What Is Subsidized Housing

what is subsidized housing

15 Nov 2019

A subsidized home is a concept introduced by the governments in some developed countries as an act of philanthropy with the help of housing corporations/associations, aiming to serve the poor. The biggest such policy can be found in the US, where initially the governments responded to the plea where the projects were owned and operated by public authorities and subsidized housing.

Such systems involve cheap federally underwritten mortgages and rents – that was paid to the private landlords, but the expense of such policy implementation grew as the housing markets expanded. 

Governments are serving corporations that get tax benefits for offering homes on rent. Still, the poor continue to live in postage-stamp-sized rooms, and people living on a low income may find it difficult to pay even the subsidized amount of rent. 

What Does Subsidized Housing Mean? Subsidized housing is an example of what?

Social housing offers a low-cost option to live without the fear of anytime eviction that is a common phenomenon in privately rented homes. 

Subsidized housing is not owned by the landlord. The private owners operate it for which they get subsidies. It may include non-profit/ profit organizations where the people in the low–income groups can get the benefits through vouchers or multifamily subsidies. 

In the UK, affordable or social housing is offered by the councils or associations, even though the number of such homes fell significantly in the 1980s and it was less than 4m in the 2000s. A 2017 report found such homes accounted for 17% of the total. 

A small number of intermediates are also included in the figures by the government in the category. In the last year, the housing crisis grew in London, and Greater Manchester as the house rents in outer south-west London became unaffordable to the people relying on local housing allowance. 

The reports claim there has been a sharp fall in affordability over the 3 years, resulting in homelessness and neglect, as the families are cutting back essentials to make up for rent.

Types of Subsidized Housing 

People who have not bought a house may have to look for rental accommodations that they search for it in local newspapers or contact the letting agencies or websites. Property agents charge a fee for registering and giving the list of properties. 

In countries where the subsidy is not offered, people have to rent privately where the rents can be very high in many cities, and the rental rates increase each year. Also, the tenant has to pay a deposit and rent in advance to the landlord. Most privately rented homes have a shorthold tenancy, and the owner can anytime end the tenancy after 6 months. 

How does Subsidized Housing Work? Is section 8 Subsidized Housing?

Subsidized housing is provided by the government of the US with the help of state and local agencies who give rental assistance to the low-income households where the government may pay for the rent where most of the subsidies are offered as per section 8 subsidized housing and Public housing schemes.

Public housing involves apartment complexes where the eligible low-income group, disabled and elderly people are offered houses through local agencies. If the request for such accommodation is accepted, the agency offer provides the home or posts with the request on the waitlist.

Such a facility can be obtained as per section 8 where tenant-based section 8 offers a voucher to the renter who can look for the home themselves and offer the voucher to the landlord. Some who are facing a job loss or are evicted may get subsidies, where they may not have to pay even the minimum rent.

In the UK, the NPPF defines the meaning of affordable housing, which includes social rented, intermediate or affordable homes that are provided to eligible households. The eligibility is determined by the local house price and income. The housing includes provisions where one can remain at affordable prices for a subsidy that is recycled for the alternative affordable housing provision.

There can be many types of such provisions - 

Social rented: Eligible people are those who can demonstrate they are British citizens or those who have the right to stay in such houses. 

Affordable rented: Affordable type refers to property that requires no more than 80% of the local market rents where the market return may vary from one place to another. People who live in homes with four bedrooms or bigger are not covered under such a scheme, and they may have to pay higher than affordable.

Intermediate tenures: Intermediate housing refers to where one pays more than social rents, but the rent can be below the market levels.

Shared: The occupier may own a share in the house bought from the housing association, and rent is paid only for the part not owned. This applies to households that earn less than £60,000 a year. 

Buying through Help to Buy

Homebuyers can invest in real estate by getting equity loans through the scheme where 20% of the cost of a new home is covered, and houses worth below £600,000 are eligible for such schemes. This scheme offers an equity loan interest-free for the initial 5 years, and in the sixth year, one has to pay 1.75%, which will increase 1% every year. This is the fee, and one has to repay the loan separately. 

Share equity and shared ownership are two different types of ownership where the shared equity refers to the condition when one buyer owns all the property, and they are the legal owners of the property, where the deposits comprise of the large part of the mortgage or the cost.

In shared ownership, there is a need to clear the equity loan in 5 to 10 years. It is something that is provided by housebuilders.

Subsidized Housing Application 

To fill the application, one should be eligible to get such an advantage. The eligibility criteria include the income that should be below a certain income, and one must meet the qualifications to apply to the housing authority of the city where they would like to live. They can apply under section 8 subsidized housing vouchers, where one has to apply to the housing authority that runs the program. One can even apply to multi-family subsidized housing.

What are my responsibilities if I live in subsidized housing? 

  • As per section 8 subsidized housing, the tenant has many responsibilities and obligations to which the voucher is given. They must live in the house using the voucher, and they should not give it to others to use. 

  • The section 8 voucher does not include the security deposit where the tenant is responsible for giving the deposit to the landlord. In such conditions, they can ask the state to pay their deposits.

  • The facility provides a larger portion of the rent, but it may not cover the entire amount. The tenant should ensure the payment is made to the landlord as per the initial agreement. 

  • They should follow the agreement conditions to prevent an eviction where the conditions like keeping the unit clean, not damaging the property, or the building care may be included. 

  • The tenant should avoid indulging in criminal or illegal activity in the building, and they should try to maintain safety and health conditions. 

  • There can be certain conditions where the agreement changes during the phase of the tenancy. If the child or somebody in the family gets a job, it should be informed to the authorities; however, the rents may not be adjusted in case the minor is a full-time student. 

  • The house can be occupied by a family of American or non – American citizens – which means the assistance can be received only by those members who are eligible. 

  • There are many other ways the amount received by the tenant changes. If the tenant has lost a job because she is pregnant, she may get more, but it is necessary to inform the circumstances to continue getting the benefits; otherwise, one may completely lose the voucher benefits as per section 8. 

In the UK, the government plans to implement such policies to provide a better living to the ageing population. The government has started revising the building regulations where they may introduce heavily subsidized homes for first-time buyers. 

The policy will help those above the age of 65. In the UK the number of people above 65 will increase by 40 per cent in the next two decades, and those above 70 will rise by over 70 per cent. 

The next government will be under pressure to rebuild regulations for the builder to develop projects where the higher minimum standards are accessible to all. The aim will be to make homes accessible to all groups, including disabled parents and older, who are forced to live in homes that are not suitable for their requirements. 

In the US, vouchers are offered to the tenant eligible to stay in subsidized homes, and he can’t lease out the place to others as leasing the dwelling place to others is considered a fraud. It can lead to termination of the voucher offered as section 8. 

What is a section 8 notice?

One can use the section 8 notice during tenancy, where if the notice is valid, the landlord cannot evict the tenant. The eviction can be challenged by using the notice. A landlord can ask to leave using many reasons like rent arrears, damage to the property or neighbour nuisance. He can give the section 21 and section 8 notices where he is not obliged to explain a reason for eviction. 

The notice depends on the grounds of possession, where one can get at least 14 days to notice at the initial stage. You can challenge it and go to court before leaving the house. 

  • The notice should include the name, address, and ground for possession. It should mention the date when it ends. One can ask the court to order to leave before emptying the house, and while the case is put forward, they can stay back. 

  • One can even defend their possession by providing how they will pay the arrears.

  • The defence form can be used to delay the date of leaving, where the extra time can be used for finding reasons to support the case or search for a new home. 

  • One can prepare for the case hearing where the documents from the court should be carefully examined, and a copy of tenancy, the letter from GP, and other documents like the bank statements related to the rental payments should be taken along. 

  • It is advised to go to a hearing for defending the case as the court may ignore the tenant’s appeal and give a hearing in favour of the landlord if they are not provided with proper documents and proof. 

  • Even in case the court orders you to leave the house; you may be given 14 days (the time changes depending on location/state) time to shift. 

  • If the landlord is given the eviction warrant by the court, they may use the service of enforcement officers or bailiffs for eviction.

In most conditions, the court can either dismiss the case or adjourn the case or order an eviction or suspend possession. Suspended order allows the tenant to stay back on certain terms. 

How to defend section 8 eviction?

There can be circumstances when the notice is invalid and the landlord fails to prove that the renter owes any arrears. The bank statements showing the money transfer details and the job offer letter can help the renter show that you are eligible and can pay the arrears and real estate investment. 

Even when the ground for eviction is proved, the court may take time to decide if it is a no-nonsense case. 

Some of the mandatory grounds where the court may decide in favour of the landlord are conditions when the landlord wants to move back in the property, and they have already informed the tenant about their decisions, or when the tenant has been convicted of a serious crime or have antisocial behaviour. 

Some other reasons for the court making decision in favour of the homeowner are – if the tenant regularly pays the rent late and has breached the tenancy agreement. 

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