Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant ... - Posted by Carl

Posted by Kristine-CA on November 12, 2009 at 19:35:35:

Source of income is specific to CA law. It’s an attempt to prevent
discrimination based on soc. sec.,welfare and other public aid. You can
verify it, of course, but the problem comes when a potential tenant
thinks that their source of income is the variable that gets them

Kind of like when you verify number of children. You can’t discriminate
against renters with children. But the disgruntled applicant will run
with the idea that the children were the issue. So a landlord has to be
very careful how they gather information, and make sure they do it the
same for everyone.

Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by Carl

Posted by Carl on November 10, 2009 at 17:07:19:

why she is on Section 8?

Or is this none of my business?

I just met a woman who wants to rent my place. She is all by herself with no children and on section 8.

Am I allowed to legally ask her why she gets section 8? Isn’t this usually for single mothers, etc?

I am in PA.



US Gov pamphlet - Posted by John Merchant

Posted by John Merchant on November 26, 2009 at 12:36:42:

FHA or Sec 8 offices here in WA have a little US Gov printed pamphlet that clearly tells what a S 8 LL can ask and cannot ask.

The directions therein given, being Fed Law ought to apply equally in all states.

So give your local S8 office a call.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by David

Posted by David on November 12, 2009 at 20:51:31:

It is kind of a dumb question. The Section 8 program subsidizes housing for low-income families and individuals. Program eligibility is income based.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by BeachBum

Posted by BeachBum on November 11, 2009 at 21:53:23:

There is no good reason to ask the question, and it could very well lead to a Fair Housing issue…which you DO NOT WANT!

The questions you need answered to approve/disapprove a rental applicant are:

1)What is your total household income? A proper answer will need to include documentation of the source of that income- Section 8 may be a source. Cash under the table is undocumented, and should not be considered.
2)How stable is the source? (How long have they been employed? How big is the Trust Fund? ETC.
Section 8 is generally very stable, BUT keep in mind that your new tenant will STILL be your tenant if they get kicked off the program. Section 8 has no obligation to physically remove them-that is your problem, and will necessitate a standard legal eviction process it the tenant doesn’t feel like moving. This also applies even if YOU complain to Section 8 about YOUR tenant breaking rules, dealing drugs, tearing up the house, etc.
3)What is their debt ratio, and are you comfortable with that? (What else are they paying out, and to whom? What about groceries, cable and cigarettes? This all comes before rent!)You should have clear guidelines that you apply to ALL applicants.
4)What is their historical financial behavior? What changes have happened or may be imminent, that will improve or degrade prior practices?
5)There is more, but this is a good start. I have, in the past, collected as much as $60,000 per month in Section 8 rents, but today have only two inherited tenants on it, and refuse to accept any new applicants that are subsidized by any type of program. Some areas of the country there is no choice, but I would try anything else first. FYI, I have turned around more than one property in a “bad” neighborhood simply by being hardnosed about the rules and the quality of new applicants.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by DJ-nyc

Posted by DJ-nyc on November 11, 2009 at 15:13:09:

Of course its ‘your business’ if you rent to her, but like Kristine-CA said you definitely need to educate yourself with the program. In nyc, tons of single people have the program based on ‘emergency’ situations but overall they are given to ‘low income’ individuals and families. You still have to screen based on the ‘character’ of the applicant in my opinion. The Sec8 program only facilitates your rent payment; if you start having problems with the tenant; you have to go through normal eviction proceedings. In closing;be careful asking potential candidates questions like that, it can be viewed as discriminatory. DJ-nyc

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by Kristine-CA

Posted by Kristine-CA on November 10, 2009 at 21:39:42:

Carl: your question is a good one and best answered by other
landlords and legal counsel in your area. Section 8 is not a “protected
class.” However, in CA, one cannot discriminate based on “source of
income.” So in CA you are treading into a gray area if you mix
questions about “why section 8” and what “source of income.”

Section 8 has always been for anyone who qualifies with their local HA,
not just “single mothers.” So, you’re already off to a bad start IMO if
you are questioning the potential tenant’s status based on your lack of
knowledge/understanding of the program.

Your county housing authority may have a good website that answers
FAQ for potential landlords. I suggest starting there. Tread carefully.
There are potential tenants out there that would love to eat you for
lunch if you say no to them based on their inclusion in any of the
protected classes.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by -Steve-

Posted by -Steve- on November 10, 2009 at 21:16:54:

Ask away Carl. Nothing wrong with asking. If she doesn’t give a straight answer then I would have an issue with that.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by Giovanni

Posted by Giovanni on November 12, 2009 at 18:56:15:

I now that in nyc, some landlords will clearly state that “no programs” will be accepted for a rental. Even in advertising. I know that one cannot discriminate on color, race , age etc, but to say that one cannot discriminate on source of income is something I would SERIOUSLY QUESTION and even verify. “Source” is very broad and can be an illegal source.

Re: Am I allowed to ask a potential tennant … - Posted by Dave T

Posted by Dave T on November 12, 2009 at 20:44:33:

“Protected class” is a term used in United States anti-discrimination law. The term describes groups of people who are protected from discrimination and harassment.

Housing discrimination according to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act) is the â??refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of his race, color, religion or national origin.â?? Later on the disabled and families with children were added to this list. These groups are protected classes by federal law.

Some local jurisdictions have even added sexual orientation and/or source of income to the list.

If your property location has a local ordinace that makes refusing a rental application based upon source of income (Section 8, for example) a discriminatory practice, then source of income is a protected class in that jurisdiction.

You need to check your local fair housing ordinances to confirm that source of income is not a protected class for your property. If not, then you can freely and overtly refuse to rent to Section 8 applicants.