Creative Ways To Qualify And Find The Best Section 8 Tenants
We manage about 146 Section 8 rentals as a Tampa property management company. I've learned as over the years a few tricks that have a dramatic impact on the quality of tenants selected. A big key to success is just avoiding the poorly behaved and disgusting housekeepers on the Section 8 program. They do the most significant amount of damage because they have no respect for any cleanliness standard. How do we identify these people and weed them out? Glad you asked.
First off, as a Tampa property manager, you do not accept anyone who is brand new to the program. They have no track record of behaving responsibly and caring for a home. People who get their first Section 8 vouchers the first time have not idea the real value of
this assistance. A decent percentage of them will get kicked off the program for not taking care of their home. People who've been on the program awhile do understand and behave better. Therefore, stay away from first-timers on the Section 8 program.
And As long as you are consistent in the application of this rule and the others I'm going to tell you about; you will not be violating the Fair Housing Standards according to my understanding (although I'm not a lawyer and am in no way offering legal advice).
Second, do not accept any Section 8 tenant without inspecting where they live now. Require in writing that they must let you into the home within 24 hours to inspect the home for cleanliness. You might ask, "Well doesn't that give time for people to clean up? "Yes, it does, but I'm not inspecting for cleanliness.I'm checking for roaches.
Over the years, I've noticed that the worst damages caused by Section tenants were ones that were so filthy that they were infested with roaches. So, when we arrive to inspect the home, we look under the kitchen sink and bathroom vanity. If we see roaches scurrying when we open the cabinet door, we know there are hundreds more at night, and the tenant is instantly denied. We've literally seen roaches falling from the front door when the tenant opens the door to let us in.
Of course, if we notice a disgusting living environment or tons of damages or drug activity while walking through the home, we will deny them as well. This denial is not done at their house. We don't want to get into a verbal argument with someone in their home, obviously.
If we deny them because of a negative inspection, we usually refund their application fee. I do this because they did qualify to rent on other standards like rental history, income, and so forth. Therefore, I don't feel right about keeping their application fee especially when I'm dealing with a low-income applicant who as far as I can tell didn't lie to me in any way. They are just horrible housekeepers.
By the way, I'm not trying to imply that most Section 8 tenants are filthy or make bad tenants. They are not. The majority of them are decent, good, or even great residents. But a small percentage of them are absolutely horrible and will do a tremendous amount of damage to your home. I've rented to many Section 8 tenants over the years.
I had one Section 8 tenant who stayed in my own rental for 8 years before she passed away. The rent was never late and she kept the property up. I had minor repairs only. However, her daughter, new to the Section 8 program, took over and immediately ended up in eviction. She didn't pay her portion of the rent and was kicked off the program.I've seen a bunch of great Section 8 tenants have their kids grow up and they no longer need housing assistance. A number of these single mothers had acquired a decent job over time and did just fine.
The third rule is I don't accept Section 8 tenants moving from out of state. The reason being is I can't inspect where they live. I also won't accept Section 8 tenants who moved out of their previous home and in with family for the same reason. Does this limit your applicant pool? You bet, but it has proven a very reliable indicator of a quality Section 8 tenant, so we do it anyway.
A lousy section 8 tenant can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage. You can sue them and easily win a judgment, but you won't get the money. So, what is the point? There are quality people on the Section 8 program, but you have to search for them in a way that doesn't violate Fair Housing Standards. Having a standard like "no roaches can be found under the kitchen sink or vanity sink" is clear and not discriminatory. Apply these rules equally to everyone regardless of race, religion, familial status, etc., and you should be in good shape.