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Section 8 Teaches Some Valuable Lessons - Part II

Linda and Tony Checchia

May 16, 2002

What lessons have we learned from all that we recently went through evicting our Section 8 tenant?

  1. While the ordeal we underwent could have easily taken place with a tenant who was not involved with Section 8, the fact of the matter is that our experience was with a Section 8 tenant. Ms. Eight's behavior reflects poorly on the whole system and one "bad apple can certainly ruin the barrel." Rather than a role model, Ms. Eight is a model example of what can go terrible wrong. Ironically, the day we were proceeding with the eviction, an innocent, newly-sanctioned Section 8 voucher holder approached and asked if the house would soon be available for rent. Our only response was to wish the gentlemen good luck and to thank Ms. Eight for giving the program a bad reputation.

    Here's to squandering the "opportunity" she sought and giving the whole system a black eye!

    What happened with Ms. Eight will make any other landlord in the City of Frederick, rightfully so, weary and reluctant to take on such tenants. Any expansion of the Section 8 system will need to take into account the need to overcome entrenched prejudices and misgivings about the system.

  2. Because of Ms. Eight's lack of personal accountability and responsibility, the financial and time burden to process eviction notices, hire laborers and clean out a townhouse fell on us. We are still in shock at the audacity of a person to actually continue living in a rented townhouse - knowing full well that they had not paid the rent for over a year and had been served an eviction notice!

    Are other landlords prepared to take this financial risk?

    While the law allows for the tenant to ultimately be responsible for the expenses the landlord has incurred, this too will require more legal action and expense with no guarantee of ever recovering any damages and/or losses.

  3. While the lease was between Ms. Eight and us, the Housing Authority was to make annual monitoring visits and bears, in our perspective, a huge responsibility in ensuring the quality of the living situation as well as the overall condition of the rental unit. After all, it was the Housing Authority that was paying the largest percentage of the bill! An addendum to the lease absolves the Housing Authority and the Section 8 program from any liability - "a landlord beware provision."

    The filth and squalor found in our townhouse as a result of our Section 8 tenant do not exhibit "quality" living conditions. It is an utter disgrace that federal taxpayer dollars went to pay the rent of a tenant who choose to live in totally unacceptable conditions.

    This is not maintaining a fiduciary responsibility whatsoever to the public trust and public funding. Rather, this perpetuates an entitlement mentality, counter to the underlying goals of an ideal Section 8 program.

    The Housing Authority needs to take its responsibility more seriously.

  4. Our Section 8 tenant received housing subsidization for over seven years in the townhouse we own. The success of the Section 8 program must be measured by how many people it manages to get off assistance and not how long it keeps people on it.

    There should be preset timeframes as to how long a tenant can count on Section 8 assistance and such assistance should gradually diminish as a tenant works closer and closer toward self sufficiency and mainstream living without the dependency of a Section 8 voucher.

There is no doubt that we have a sour taste in our mouths regarding renting to a Section 8 tenant. Though this may be an isolated case, it has system-wide ramifications. If the Section 8 program is to continue, it needs to be massively overhauled and reworked so that other willing landlords will not experience what we went through. Addressing points 1-4 above is a good place to start and should be considered in any discussion about the future of subsidized housing in the City of Frederick.

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