Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did You Know a Section 8 or Plan Ocho
Voucher is Portable?

While interviewing April Johnson from Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency MDPHA I heard the term "Portability" being used in our conversation. I was familiar with transferring vouchers but I never heard the term portability being used. I decided to ask her what exactly did this term mean.

April mentioned that any tenant that had a Section 8 Voucher in good standing, could live in the jurisdiction of a housing authority anywhere in the United States that is administering a tenant-based (Section 8 Voucher) program including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

But there are certain guidelines and facts that you must be aware of:

  • Don't take for granted that the rules are the same for each housing authority. Each PHA has its own rules, regulations and deadlines that you must follow.
  • Fair Market Rent limits or payment standards may be different for each Public Housing Office PHA. Remember they are calculated by Zip codes.
  • The utility allowance may be different and may affect the rent amount you pay. Florida utility bills are much higher than Puerto Rico. I know because I lived in both places.
  • Rental subsidy standards may be different. I can recall the differences in subsidy payments from Miami-Dade to Homestead Offices. These offices are in the same county.
  • The new housing authority will issue you a different voucher, which may change the size (number of bedrooms) that you maybe eligible for. I can't tell you how many times this issue would come up while discussing voucher transfers.
  • If you decided to transfer you have to re-verify your income and do a background check. One of my tenants was kick out of the program because her son, not her, was caught dealing drugs. You may open a can of worms for yourself.
  • If you are new to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you may have a waiting period before you can transfer to another jurisdiction of a housing authority.
  • If you decide to use the portability option of your voucher, make sure you contact your home office to start the paper work. This may take a while so give yourself some time.
  • Oh yeah, you better have an idea of where you want to go! Your home office can't do much if you can't tell them where you are going. You may want to visit the new housing offices so you can get an idea what will be involved and GET contact information to present to your current HOME jurisdiction.
  • By moving you are going to incur changes in your cash flows; security deposit, rental down payment, different tax structure, cost of living changes, insurances, education, transportation...on and on and on.

What does "Portability" have to do with real estate investing you ask? Miami-Dade Florida is a popular destination for voucher transfers and can be another channel in your marketing efforts to get tenants into your rental properties.

Do you have any experience with Section 8 voucher transfers? If so, tell us about it in the comments area below!

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Written by +Bob Burns.
 
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Telephone #: 305-586-5280
email: rkburns@investmentpropertiesmiamiflorida.com
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