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jca2's avatar

Can a Section 8 landlord require tenants to shovel snow and mow grass?

Asked by jca2 (14551points) 6 days ago

I’m not moving. I’m not a Section 8 recipient. I am just curious because I saw a post on FB, for a house and they said they are willing to accept Section 8, and one of the requirements for prospective tenants is they have to shovel snow and mow grass.

I know that regular rentals (non Section 8) can require tenants to do these things, but Section 8 recipients can be disabled and therefore, I’m not sure how that would work (requiring them to mow grass and shovel snow).

I used to work for Section 8 a long time ago, so I know a bit about it but this is not something that I recall ever coming up.

I am not commenting on the FB post about it, and as I said I’m not looking to move, I am just curious about whether or not they can require it.

It’s funny because when I look at the post about the rental, typical Facebook, commenters are discussing how awful it is that they are going to allow Section 8, and how illegals and undesirables receive Section 8, and the high rent and “there goes the neighborhood,” but yet nobody is asking this interesting question, about whether it’s legal for the landlord to require tenants to shovel snow and mow grass.

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21 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll be interested to hear the answers. My first thought was I don’t see how any landlord can require any tenant to take care of the lawn or snow, or that they would trust a tenant to do those things. Then I thought about it more, and maybe the lease is saying the tenant shouldn’t expect snow removal services from the landlord. The thing is snow removal is a safety issue on walkways and could make the landlord vulnerable to lawsuits if not cleared well.

kritiper's avatar

Yes. Here it is a city ordinance to shovel sidewalks before 9 AM. Mowing lawns is probably also a city ordinance. So a landlord would be bound by law to do it or be fined. It is his property, so best to do it. And it makes the renter look better in the eyes of his/her neighbors. A good will thing.

jca2's avatar

@kritiper My question is not for a regular renter, it’s for a Section 8 renter, which is differenrt, as it’s not about the local ordinances (which ultimately are the landlord’s issue) but for recipientes of Section 8.

kritiper's avatar

I’ll go with my original post.

Cupcake's avatar

It’s against the HOA rules in our neighborhood to require tenants to pay for lawn care. Our landlord requires us to pay for lawn care. When I brought it up, I was told I could either do it myself or my rent will be raised.

I’m under the impression that landlords, to some frequency, don’t follow laws. I imagine that frequency to be quite high.

If your tenants are low-income and/or disabled, requiring them to mow and shovel can be an unreasonable request. Is the landlord providing the required materials (mower, shovel)?

Cupcake's avatar

I found this: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-24/subtitle-B/chapter-IX/part-982?toc=1 but can’t find any reference to yard, maintenance, shoveling, etc.

Entropy's avatar

I don’t know the answer to your question, just sharing my minimal experience with Section 8 in that a friend of mine lived in a large townhome development with some designated section 8 rentals. These folks…basically did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. The HOA rules applied to everyone else, but those homes disregarded them and the people in the community resented them for it—- but largely were unnable to enforce any upkeep or HOA rules on them.

I’ve no idea if that’s a city/county/state/federal thing or an HOA thing or a specific lease thing…I just know it was a problem and they griped about it alot.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t see how. Aren’t most sec 8 renters comprised of multiple renters in a single 8 person unit? I’d call Section 8.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Never heard of that. A friend of mine used to be a landlord for section 8 and he was renting out single family homes to usually to a couple or a family, not multiple families in one home.

SnipSnip's avatar

Sure they can. Most “complexes” take care of that for all tenants. However, many many single-family homes take advantage of Section 8. I would assume most of those leave yard maintenance and snow removal to the tenants, just like it is left to non-subsidized tenants.

nightwolf5's avatar

I live in WA state and am on Section 8. I believe that Section 8 and rental laws all differ by state somewhat. I have looked up the ones here in the past. I’ve never read anything that states that a section 8 tenant is exempt from taking care of the lawn or snow. If it’s in the lease, then it’s the rules is my take. Now I doubt the landlord cares who does it, just that it gets done. The section 8 tenant could have a caregiver, family or friend do it, or pay someone to do it.
I’m in an apartment, it includes lawn care and all that stuff. Most house rentals you do have to do your lawn care unless it states otherwise. Disabled or not it would have to get done somehow by someone.
There is a law in WA too that a landlord can’t say no to rent to a tenant solely because they are on Section 8, unless they don’t meet other rental criteria.
If they have no one to help them and are disabled I would talk to the potential landlord to see if they can work something out, maybe have the tenant pay a bit more in rent within reason, and they will have a company do the yard/snow care?

RayaHope's avatar

A tenant that is renting a section 8 apartment should not be required to take care of any thing like that ever. No mowing, snow removal, repairs to the property and in most cases can’t even work on their own car in the parking lot. The landlord is responsible for all that stuff (except working on the tenants car, lol) I have a relative the works for section 8.

nightwolf5's avatar

@RayaHope for an apartment this is true, even if not on section 8. For a house not usually, unless stated that it’s included. Just like apartments usually include garbage and water, as you aren’t the only one using them. I am thinking the original poster is referring about a house rental.

RayaHope's avatar

@nightwolf5 I would have to find out but I still think the owner of the house would be responsible for that stuff. Unless it’s the homeowner section 8 where the tenant owns the house. I guess it depends on what’s in their contract.

nightwolf5's avatar

Interesting. I just know that most house rentals here. I’ve read in the descriptions, the tenants are responsible for normal yard care, unless it states that it’s included. It can depend what the owner has in the contract I do believe. An apartment is different with so many living in the same building different doors, you can’t just ask one tenant to be responsible in most cases.

jca2's avatar

@nightwolf5 Rental laws do differ by state but Section 8 is a Federal program, so therefore it should be the same nationwide. As for the landlord asking the tenant to pay extra for lawn care or snow removal, that would violate the terms of the Section 8 lease, which specifically states the tenant should not pay any more than what is in the lease, which is ⅓ of the tenant’s total household income.

@RayaHope please ask your relative. Again, it’s not an issue for me, but I am curious.

nightwolf5's avatar

@jca2

Yes, good point.
I guess the new recent law made a few years ago for WA, stating that a landlord can’t say no to rent to a tenant solely because they are on Section 8, unless they don’t meet other rental criteria, is more of a rental law, and not section 8 law.
It’s a hard one, because making a disabled section 8 tenant responsible for lawn and snow care could be a discrimination, so they may just have to make an exemption and make them not responsible for that. The lawn and snow thing might be there as a normal thing, not looking at Section 8 renters with a disability.
I’m interested in hearing how it would work later, if we get a real proving answer.

jca2's avatar

@nightwolf5 The laws about not turning down Section 8 tenants are put in place so that landlords don’t deny Section 8 renters the right to rent there. Friends who are landlords have told me they don’t like the idea of the government meddling in their landlord/tenant relationship, but on the other hand, the reality is, as long as the landlord takes decent care of the unit, the rent is pretty much guaranteed. It’s not fool proof, however, because if the tenant screws up and gets cut off of their Section 8, they may remain in the unit and then Section 8 may not pay.

As to your point about discrimination, that’s my point, too. If a tenant is disabled (which might be the reason why they receive Section 8 in the first place) and the landlord is requiring snow removal, it would definitely impact the tenant’s ability to reside there. Disability laws are supposed to level the playing field, but if the law were to say “only non disabled tenants could rent this unit” that would be discrimination. If the landlord said “the tenant would have to pay extra for snow removal and grass mowing” that would violate the terms of the Secion 8 lease, as the tenant is not supposed to pay any more than the lease states, and the landlord is not supposed to request any extra payments or make side deals. If there are side deals made, that violates the Section 8 agreement for both tenant and landlord. When I worked for Section 8, we would have tenants come in annually and we would have to read them the rules before they signed, so they couldn’t say they just signed and didn’t read what they signed, as many people do when there’s a lot to read. We would read the whole thing to them, and then we’d ask if they understood, and then they’d sign.

nightwolf5's avatar

@jca2 I understand and agree with everything you mentioned. I believe the WA law about not turning down a Section 8 renter is maybe different in each state, as before a few years ago, landlords in WA used to be able to say no to Section 8 if they wished, which made it hard for some on it to find a place to rent.

What I can say, is the place I live now, and most places here, the rental agency requires you have 3x the rent in your income to qualify for the rental unit. I was worried because I didn’t, but that requirement didn’t include me because I have section 8, so for me and others on the program. It might be the same with the lawn care and snow, that they can’t for Section 8 and disabled, making them unable to do so. It’s on there for the regular lease, but they can’t hold it against a Section 8 renter still and it isn’t a requirement of them. That would make sense. My thought anyway. Hopefully we find out.

jca2's avatar

@nightwolf5 Yeah, with S8, your rent is ⅓ of your income (combined income for the household, adults 18 and over). So if your income is 3k a month, your rent would not exceed 1k a month. Other things were calculated into the amount of the rent, I think, if I’m remembering correctly, like if heat and hot water is not included. I’m not sure about that but the program was pretty generous as far as how they calculated things.

JLeslie's avatar

Landlords like section 8, because the rent payment is guaranteed by the federal government! They can’t turn down tenants, because the “person” paying is the government and the government already vetted the tenant.

Landlords can choose not to participate in section 8 and rent to whomever they want if they just have one or two properties. Literally, they can discriminate and refuse whoever they want if they just rent out one house on their own. If they own a building with several units or multiple units of any kind, then they need to comply with equal housing laws even if they are not section 8.

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