Q: I am a landlord of an apartment complex. I have several tenants that receive government assistance through Section 8 housing. All of my Section 8 contracts state the landlord is responsible for paying the water bill. However, I have one tenant that always has a really high water bill. He agreed to a rent increase of $20.00 to cover the cost. Can I charge him the additional $20.00 per month?

A: No, you cannot implement a rent increase without receiving approval from Section 8.  If your tenant is on a month to month agreement, then you may increase the rent. However, you must give proper notice before the rent increase is effective.  The proper way to increase a Section 8 tenant’s rent is to serve the tenant with a notice to increase the rent and submit the notice to Section 8 for approval.  Additionally, it is important to read your Section 8 contract and contact your tenant’s Section 8 representative to make sure you are complying with Section 8’s rental increase process.

Q: I am a landlord of an apartment complex with a few Section 8 tenants. I always have my Section 8 tenants sign the Section 8 contract and a contract that I prefer to use. My contract states the rent is $100 more than the Section 8 contract. The tenant agreed to pay the extra $100 at the beginning of the tenancy and has paid it for the past year.  Recently, the tenant stopped paying the extra $100 because he says that he cannot afford it.  Can I serve him with a 3 day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit for the additional $100?

A: No, you are not entitled to collect rent above the amount approved by Section 8.  The Section 8 contract takes precedent over any other contract signed between landlord and tenant.  According to the Section 8 contract, your tenant has overpaid the rent for the past year by $100 per month. Thus, you will need to reimburse your tenant $1,200 for the overpaid rent or provide a rent credit.

Q: I have a Section 8 tenant who has not paid rent in 4 months. I want this tenant out of my unit. What type of notice do I need to serve?

A: If your Section 8 tenant has not paid their rent portion, you may serve the tenant with a 3 day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.  The notice may only demand the tenant’s portion of the rent. This notice must be served by personal, substitute, or posting and mailing.  Additionally, a copy of the notice must be served on Section 8 on the same day it is served on the tenants. Failure to serve the tenant’s Section 8 representative may cause the landlord to lose an unlawful detainer.

Q: I have a Section 8 tenant who is on a month-to-month agreement after his lease expired. I want to terminate his tenancy. What type of notice should I serve?

A: In order to terminate the tenancy, you must serve a 90 Day Notice to Quit with Cause. You should always review your Section 8 Contract carefully to ensure that you have a valid cause for termination.  Potential causes are found in the Tenancy Addendum of your Section 8 contract.  You must clearly state the cause for termination in your notice so that the tenant is aware of the reason for termination.  Remember to serve both the tenant and Section 8 representative with the notice.

Q: I have a tenant who recently lost her Section 8 housing assistance because she no longer qualifies for the assistance.  However, she claims that she cannot afford to pay the full amount of rent.  Do I have to contact Section 8 to receive payment again?

A: No. If the tenant’s Section 8 was cancelled, then tenant is responsible for the full amount of rent. You may serve a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit to the tenant for the full amount of rent.

Q: My tenant is no longer on Section 8 and I need my property back. My property is not in a rent control area. Do I still have to give them a 90 Day Notice to Quit with Cause?

A: No, you are not required to give a 90 Day Notice to Quit with Cause to a tenant that is no longer on Section 8. You will need to terminate the tenancy by serving one of the following: a 30 Day Notice to Quit, a 60 Day Notice to Quit, or a 60 Day Notice to Quit with Cause. If the tenant has lived in the unit for less than one year you may serve the tenant with a 30 Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant has been in the property for more than one year but less than two years you may serve the tenant with a 60 Day Notice to Quit. In the City of San Diego, if your tenant has rented the property for more than two years, you may serve the tenant with a 60 Day Notice to Quit with Cause, which states a permissible cause under the Tenants Right to Know Ordinance (San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 9, §98.0730). Check your local City ordinances to determine if your property resides in a “for cause” eviction jurisdiction.