The Center’s Perspective on So-Called “Fair Housing” Legislation


RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse offers the Center’s view on legislation that would limit landlords’ right to decide whether the way potential tenants’ will pay their rent should be a factor in deciding whether to rent to them, including a mandate to accept Section 8 vouchers:

Based on conversations with landlords I know, there is a major, legitimate, and non-racial reason why some business prefer not to accept clients subsidized by public money and all the red-tape they would have to go through. In this case, once a landlord accepts a federally subsidized Section-8 tenant, that business is now subject to a whole new array of mandates, red tape, and risks that otherwise, it would not have to worry about.

Under this legislative mandate, landlords would be subject to unfair rules by HUD, which we know from the RhodeMap RI debate years ago, does not care about private property rights. HUD has corrupted its mission of putting low-income people into appropriate housing to the point where it routinely tramples on the rights of other private property owners.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I guess I am mistaken, I thought there was already a federal mandate requiring the acceptance of Section 8. It is in fact burdensome for small landlords. I know larger owners who only have Section 8 property. They prepare for it. They buy cheap property in less desirable areas (usually they build it), design it to accept abuse, rely on their own security teams rather than the police, and accept the HUD mandates. It seems to me, although I could be mistaken, Section 8 permits rents up to 20% higher than “market rates”; that may be the old days”.

    • Christopher C. Reed

      Don’t recall a 20% premium, but it was enough to make it worthwhile. You had to negotiate a bit, and it was in Providence (see above). But we included utilities for S8 tenants. Yeah we got killed on heat, but we never got stiffed on last month’s rent.

  • Christopher C. Reed

    “…once a landlord accepts a federally subsidized Section-8 tenant, that business is now subject to a whole new array of mandates, red tape, and risks that otherwise, it would not have to worry about.”
    Not sure what this refers to as it’s been a few years since I rented to Section 8 tenants, so maybe things have changed. But the ‘red tape’ entailed in nailing down the Section 8 lease was pretty much limited to the trip to the housing agency to sign the lease with PHA, and getting the property inspected and passed. This last was probably the biggest impediment to doing business with S8 tenants. PHA will not inspect if the apartment is not vacant, so…turnover is a problem.
    Say I have two applicants, one S8, one not. They’re both qualified, but one can move in the first of the month, the other, the fifteenth. Maybe. If the gears don’t sync, move-in may be delayed to the first of the next month. We found it to our advantage to swallow the loss, as S8 tenants turned out be less risky than others. Most kept their noses clean as they did not want to be booted off the program. And the check was always good.
    We found the S8 fair market rental amount was competitive in, but not outside of, Providence County.
    You’re subject to the lead laws, fire prevention code, and draconian post-Station fire safety alarm codes anyway.
    I haven’t read the bill, as I am out of that end of the market, but does it really force people to take the gov’t check?

    • Christopher C. Reed

      One more thing; when I was in the game, you negotiated the rent with PHA. They had a number in mind. You could take it, leave it, or counter. So failure to reach an agreement as to what constitutes acceptable rent will be a crime? S8 is not viable in South County, for example, precisely because it’s FMV rent determination, last I heard, is out of whack. Not that I’m suggesting HUD should be in the business of subsidizing luxury housing. But maybe I’m wrong, and we need to put some poor people in Bonnet Shores.