Residential Property Management/Problems with Public Housing Authority (Sec 8 Voucher Payments)
I am having problems with a public housing authority and want to know what steps to take IF the housing authority will not remedy them internally. A little basics, I am 99% a real estate agent but offered to manage a 2 properties I sold to a foreign investor which are section 8 HCVP participants. One property is the source of the problem.
The tenant has been in place for a little over a year, leased up with HUD's section 8 program. The housing authority pays the majority of the rent, but the tenant pays a decent chunk. Every year the housing authority conducts an annual inspection, if the property does not pass their policy is you do not recieve any rent until it does pass and they do not just withhold the rent for the time being, their policy is not to pay at all, ever, for the time it is out of compliance.
It started by me not being notified of the inspection. The inspection happened without my knowledge and did not pass.The tenant had not called me to let me know of any problems in the unit prior to the inspection nor did she call after it failed to let me know. I had not heard from her for quite some time. I had recently requested a rent increase and thought that the reason I had not received the rent was because they had approved it and were backlogged in accounting, whatnot. This happened when I originally leased the unit it took me about 2.5 months to get paid.
Well I emailed the lady who I had sent the rent increase request to and she never responded. Then I started calling in and could never get anyone on the phone and voicemails go unreturned. Eventually I get someone helpful on the phone and she says I hadn't received rent because it failed inspection. I said "What?" I was never notified it failed inspection. I called the tenant immediately, asked her about it and she told me she had the repair list. I asked her to email or fax it to me, which she said she would, but did not. I called her again a couple days later she did not respond again. I call the housing authority, and they would not email it to me saying it had been over 30 days and they could not email it if it was over 30 days, that I would have to come in on Landlord day. They only see landlords 1 day of the week, so I went in that day and met with the inspection manager.
They looked up the file and found they sent the notice of inspection to an address I had not given them, and it was an address meant for the owner, not the agent. They said this was their policy, but in any event the document was returned and they had the returned mail scanned into their system, so they knew that nobody received it yet made no attempt to correct the matter. They gave me a copy of the inspection report and I had the repairs completed. After that I scheduled a reinspection and asked to know when it would be. It took them about 2 days to let me know and then it was for 5 days later, they said I could call in the morning of the inspection to find out the inspector and their number so I could call them to find out when it would be. I called in, got the inspector's number, who did not answer his phone and inspected the property without me being present and once again failed the unit. The reason they failed it is a hole was cited in the yard on the original inspection. A hole in the yard had been filled, the originial inspection had not cited the location of the hole or if there were more than one, the one that was filled was the largest, most obvious, one presumably cited by the inspector. The inspector at the 2nd inspection found another hole and failed it again.
Am I wrong to feel like I have the right to be notified of the upcoming inspection or at the very least of a failed inspection? That I have the right to be present for the inspection? Etc?
I have never had too many problems with the housing authority in my first year except for a payment being delayed and emails not being returned and when I met with the inspection manager he seemed very nice and like he realized the housing authority was at fault and wanted to make it right, however, I have lost faith this was more than an appearance and feel like I am being jerked around by the tenant and the housing authority. There are a lot of horror stories out there about the housing authorities and tenants playing the system and I'm afraid this may be happening.
If they do not rectify the situation, what is the most reasonable action?
--- Hello Craig,
I must say that I am not Licensed to do business in DC and I am not an Attorney, nor can I give legal advice.
That being said, HUD Section-8 is a HUGE BEAST. More red tape than anyone knows about and many of their employees are just punching a time clock..., putting in their 40 hours a week on a job they do not like. They have NO incentive to help anyone, but mostly they go by the book. I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to sue them for similar issues...but you cannot sue Uncle Sam and expect to get fair treatment. Also, they have the law on their side.
I know how you feel, I also have felt as you do but I found that over time it is best to just be friendly with these people. Go out of your way to meet the case worker and be nice. Understand that they have a tough job too and they will respond to kindness more than harsh criticism.
Do you have a Power of Attorney from the owner of the property to act on their behalf? This is to be able to sign, seal and acknowledge documents etc. Mine is part of my owner contract and is signed by every owner who does business with us.
As harsh as it may seem, they do what they do regardless of what we think is fair. If it were me I would work with the system, because if we can't beat it we may as well try to make it work for us. I hope that helps a bit. I have been down that long cold hard road.
Don Sr. / Broker