Providence Village HOA restricts Section 8
By Abigail Allen
Rental restrictions approved through a vote of the Providence Homeowners Association created a stir in the town, including by residents who use the Housing Choice Voucher Program often called Section 8.
Neighbors on both sides have had a war of words back and forth over social media, and area media outlets picked up the story of the animosity.
“The Providence Homeowners Association has been the subject of newspaper articles and news reports regarding the Amendment to implement Rental Restrictions,” reads a letter issued to PHOA homeowners Wednesday. “We wanted to clarify any misinformation that has been circulating.”
The vote about whether to change the rules regarding rental agreements—both short-term and long-term—passed with 52.8% of PHOA homeowners supporting it.
“We are excited to see increased homeownership and less rental price gouging in the months ahead,” the HOA board said in the letter.
At first, the new regulations would have required all rental agreements to be available in full to the HOA.
In June 2021, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1588, which restricts the access property owners’ associations have to lease agreements. That law was effective as of Sept. 1.
It allows them to collect “contact information, including the name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address of each person who will reside at a property in the subdivision under a lease; and the commencement date and term of the lease,” according to the text of the bill.
“A change was made to the initial document that had not yet been filed due to incorrect wording regarding leases,” the PHOA letter said. “The HOA will not require a completed full lease, as initially written in the rules.”
The board met Tuesday to bring the amendment into line with the 2021 law, and the new date of record estimated for the rental restrictions to be filed with the county is June 20, according to the letter.
That starts the clock on when the new restrictions can be enforced.
“In regards to the Section 8 Housing Restriction, no fines have been sent to any landlords at this time,” the letter says. “The HOA is not displacing any families immediately as has been reported by the media.”
A 90-day clock starts after the final version is filed by the county.
“The Board has implemented this rule and will begin enforcement with a standard TROPA violation to include the fines of $300 per week to the owner,” according to the letter.
If landlords are still renting to Section 8 tenants “[o]nce the enforcement begins, a violation notice is sent and the homeowner has 30 days to comply before fines begin,” the letter says.
The Denton Housing Authority serves the city of Denton and the area surrounding it, and it issued a press release Wednesday regarding the PHOA decision and its potential impact on 81 families.
“Families have been instructed not to move and their rights under the lease agreement with the property owner, not the HOA,” it reads. “Families have been informed of their rights under Fair Housing, and they may file a complaint with the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.”
In addition, DHA is willing to provide a relocation voucher, the release says, “if any family wishes to move due to harassment, threats or intimidation from other residents or the HOA in Providence Village.”
Of those 81 families, according to the statistics provided by DHA, 91% are Black and 4% are Hispanic. Seventy-six out of 81 have a female head of household, and 24 of 81 heads of household are disabled.
There is a total of 213 children in those homes, two elderly people and one veteran.
Those properties are held by 63 property owners, 15 of whom own multiple properties being rented by Section 8 residents.
People in need of assistance from the Denton Housing Authority can contact the agency at 940-383-1504.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs provides a description of the voucher program, accessible at tdhca.state.tx.us.
“The Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance payments on behalf of low income individuals and families, including the elderly and persons with disabilities,” according to the website. “The program provides financial assistance for decent, safe and sanitary housing to eligible households whose annual gross income does not exceed 50% of HUD’s median income guidelines.”
Landlords can deny the vouchers, and in September 2017, the Dallas Morning News published an article about 26 cities in which landlords would not rent to Section 8 residents, citing a study by the Inclusive Communities Project.
That study can be accessed at bit.ly/3mX2BeQ.
“Section 8 is not available in all areas of the state,” according to the TDHCA website. “Review HUD’s list of Texas Public Housing Agencies (www.hud.gov) or the Texas Housing Association’s directory [at txtha.org/index.php/directory] for contact information for Texas PHAs. You may also call 211 for information on your local PHA.”