City of Phoenix Changes to SOI
Attention City of Tucson and City of Phoenix Managers and Landlords! As many of you may have heard on
the news, the City of Phoenix has followed Tucson’s lead and has passed new guidance regarding its Source
of Income Ordinance (SOI) rules and the Attorney General’s office has reversed their previous opinion that
these ordinances violate existing laws. While these laws will likely be challenged in the court system, they
are in effect unless and until they are found to be in violation of the existing laws.
What does this mean for Landlords in the City of Phoenix or Tucson? These new ordinances prohibit a
landlord from refusing to rent to an applicant solely because the applicant has a rent voucher from Section 8
or other similar housing choice voucher program. In other words, when a tenant’s rental application would
otherwise be approved, the prospective tenant’s application cannot be denied simply because their source
of income is a Section 8 or public housing voucher. However, management and Landlords can continue to
apply their existing credit, background and rental history requests and set their own rental rates.
Do you have to accept a voucher recipient that doesn’t meet your rental criteria? Landlords are not
required to change their rental criteria. They simply can not refuse to accept an applicant solely because
they have a housing choice voucher. You will need to review your rental criteria and make sure that
everyone enforces those policies consistently. Many landlords have rental criteria that calls for the
rejection of an application if 1) an applicant does not have a sufficient credit history; 2) has a criminal record
that violates your criminal history policies; 3) has a poor rental history; 4) owes a previous landlord money,
5) has been evicted or received breach notices from a previous landlord, 6) has filed bankruptcy, 7) has a
credit score lower than your acceptable level; or does not have a sufficient employment history or income.
This being said, Tucson has determined that if a landlord has a rental criteria that requires an applicant to
prove income of a certain rate (frequently three times the rental rate), a housing voucher applicant only has
to be able to prove that they have income to cover their portion of the rent.
Enforcement. These new ordinances will be enforced by the Cities’ Offices of Equal Opportunity Programs.
Complainants have 180 days to file a complaint after the alleged violation. A violation of the new ordinance
could result in fines ranging from $300 to $2,500. Multiple violations carry higher penalties but the
maximum penalty per violation is $2,500.
Please call on us with your questions about landlord/tenant issues statewide! We are grateful for your business and
for the opportunity to partner with your communities. –
Answers to Common Questions.
1. Are there any special rules for housing choice voucher leases? Yes there are some special rules
and we encourage all landlords to attend a class offered by that agency so that you understand
your obligations and your rights. Generally, a tenant can’t sign a lease and move in until the
HAP agency has inspected the unit and given their approval. The amount of rent has to be
approved by that same agency. The length of the lease usually must be one year. Generally speaking,
some properties will not be approved for vouchers (mobile homes, recreational vehicles, homes owned
by a family member, converted garages and other spaces).
2. Do I have to accept a housing choice voucher applicant who shows an income of $400 a month when
their portion of rent is $500 a month? No but if they show an income of $400 a month when their
portion of the rent is $50 a month, you would have to approve them, if they otherwise qualify and your
policy is that the applicant must prove income of a certain ratio to the monthly rent.
3. Do I have to accept a housing choice voucher applicant who has been evicted or filed bankruptcy?
No as long as that same criteria applies to all applicants.
4. Do I have to waive any of my rental criteria? No.
5. Do I have to agree to take less than the current market rent if the housing choice voucher is for less
than that market rent? No.
6. Can I charge a higher rent for housing choice voucher applicants? No.
7. Can I agree to the rental amount on the voucher but then make a separate agreement with the
applicant to pay additional rent like pet fees, storage fees, parking fees, etc.? No.
8. Do I have to sign any special documents other than the lease? Yes. The provider of the voucher will
have a separate HAP contract that you must execute. You will also be required to agree to how those
payments will be made directly to you.
9. Can I still evict a housing choice voucher tenant if they don’t pay their portion of the rent even though I
have accepted the HAP payment for that month? Yes.
10. Do I have to change my lease terms to fit that voucher program? No but if you issue a breach notice, you
must send a copy to that HAP provider.
11. Do I have to issue any special breach notices for voucher recipients? No, but if you issue a breach notice,
you must send a copy to that HAP provider.
12. Can I non-renew the lease? Yes, as long as you use the same criteria you would apply to all residents.
13. Do I have to hold that unit off the market while the HAP provider conducts an inspection?
This question has not been answered yet. If you have a unit available for occupancy on a certain date and
the housing choice voucher applicant can’t take occupancy because the unit won’t be inspected for a
lengthy period of time and another applicant is able to take occupancy, it is our opinion that you can
accept the application for the person who is ready, willing and able to move in under your time
constraints. However, if you are multifamily community and have other units coming open, you should
still consider that applicant for a unit that can be inspected and occupied within a reasonable time frame.
You can find more information here : https://www.phoenix.gov/eodsite/Documents/chapter18amendments032813.pdf