Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed a bill that will 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.
In a signing letter, Ducey recognized Arizona’s affordable housing crisis.
“Arizona’s current supply of affordable housing can only meet about one-third of the population needs,” Ducey said.
“This bill encourages landlords to offer affordable housing and to participate in public housing assistance programs,” Ducey said. “Importantly, it does not disrupt the rent assistance provided by faith-based organizations, community action agency programs, and non-profit agencies to many Arizona citizens.”
Toma said the bill was 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.
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 Ducey signed 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.
Around 107,000 people in 51,000 Arizona households currently use federal rental assistance such as Section 8, 70 percent of which are seniors, children or people with disabilities, according to data gathered by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
On average, an apartment in Arizona, including utilities, is $1,020 a month, a 13 percent increase since 2001, according to the most recent data.