A Letter To Tenant Requesting Information For Emotional Support Animal Section 8 Side Payments

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Section 8 Side Payments

Over the years we have had several Section 8 tenants try to make a side payment agreement with us in an attempt to entice us to accept their vouchers. We refused.

What are Section 8 side payments?

Let’s assume that the asking rent for a unit is $2,500. The Housing Authority has authorized a maximum amount per unit of $2,300. The landlord and tenant make an agreement that the tenant will pay an additional $200 outside of the agreement with the Housing Authority. This is considered a Section 8 side payments. It is illegal.

By making a side deal, the tenant may risk losing their voucher. However, the Housing Authority has found a very creative way for the tenant to report the surcharge while remaining anonymous. The result can be quite profitable for the tenant, while extremely costly for the participating landlord.

In May 2014, the Santa Clara County Housing Authority sent a letter to Section 8 voucher tenants titled “Confidential “Side Payment” Rent Survey.” The letter encourages the tenant to take a survey provided by Project Sentinel to ensure that the responses theirs are kept confidential and their housing voucher status is protected.

The letter is posted on the Project Sentinel website at http://housing.org/. Project Sentinel does not share survey information with the Housing Authority.

The survey consists of three questions:

1. In the past 6 years, have you (or anyone in your household) paid rent that was higher than the “tenant’s rent” amount listed on your most recent Housing Authority rent share letter?

2. Are you (or someone in your household) currently paying rent that is higher than the “tenant’s rent” amount listed on your most recent Housing Authority rent share letter?

3. At any time in the past, has the landlord demanded or collected rent payments that were higher than the “tenant rent” amount listed on your most recent rent installment letter from the Housing Authority?

If you are a landlord whose tenant can answer “yes” to any of these three questions, you should be concerned.

According to Project Sentinel, a tenant can be given a refund of the total of the side payments made to the landlord. In addition, tenants can be awarded $1,650 to $3,300 for each month they make a side payment to the landlord, regardless of the amount of the side payment. Refund payments can be returned up to six years.

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