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Section 8 Additional Payments

Over the years, several Section 8 tenants have tried to make an additional payment agreement with us in an effort to convince us to accept their vouchers. We refused.

What are Section 8 co-payments?

Suppose the rent asked for a unit is $2,500. The Housing Authority has authorized a maximum amount per unit of $2,300. The landlord and tenant agree that the tenant will pay the additional $200 out of agreement with the Housing Authority. This is considered a Section 8 Side Pay. It is illegal.

By making a side agreement, the tenant could risk losing their voucher. However, the Housing Authority has come up with a very creative way for the tenant to report the additional payment while remaining anonymous. The result could be quite lucrative for the lessee and extremely expensive for the participating homeowner.

In May 2014, the Santa Clara County Housing Authority sent a letter to tenants with Section 8 vouchers titled “Confidential Rent “Extra Payment” Survey.” The letter encourages the tenant to take a survey provided by Project Sentinel to ensure their responses are kept confidential and the status of their housing voucher 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 last 6 years, have you (or anyone in your household) paid rent that was more than the “tenant’s rent” amount listed on your most recent rent portion letter from the Housing Authority?

2. Are you (or anyone in your household) currently paying more rent than the “tenant’s rent” amount listed on your most recent rent portion letter from the Housing Authority?

3. At any time in the past, has the landlord requested or collected rental payments greater than the “tenant’s rent” amount listed on your most recent rent portion 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 receive a refund of the full amount of the secondary payments made to the landlord. In addition, the tenant could receive between $1,650 and $3,300 for each month an additional payment was made to the owner, regardless of the amount of the additional payment. Repayment payments can go back up to six years.

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