Ducey to decide fate of bill making Section 8 not count as rent in eviction cases

By: - May 29, 2019 3:51 pm

Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Late last week, in the waning days of the legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that would give landlords the ability to evict tenants who pay their rents with assistance from the federal government’s Section 8 housing voucher program.

Rep. Ben Toma, R-Peoria, said previously that he introduced House Bill 2358 at the request of the Arizona Multihousing Association, a trade group for large rental properties.

Toma said the bill is a response to a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling from last year.

The crux of the ruling was that, if a landlord accepts a rental housing voucher payment that counts as partial payment, a tenant is protected under Arizona law from eviction.

Proponents of the measure said that, under the current law, landlords cannot evict someone for violence or domestic violence if they accept a rental assistance payment. However, the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence is neutral on the bill.


Additionally, it also states that if a rental agreement is terminated, a landlord can take up a claim for possession and rent and a separate claim for damages from a tenant, something that many landlords already do.

Under Toma’s proposal, a landlord could say that rental assistance does not constitute a rent payment, and then evict the tenant – even as it keeps the money.

The original bill also included assistance from churches and community based organizations, but the version that was sent to Gov. Doug Ducey exempts faith-based organizations and community action agencies.

Payments from government agencies, public housing authorities and from third parties on behalf of a government agency are not exempt.

The bill passed the House on a 35-25 vote and passed the Senate 19-7.

According to data collected by Arizona’s 211 system, 162 of Toma’s constituents called 211 for help with housing assistance last year.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.