Renting Our House to Low-Income Housing Applicants

Updated on June 22, 2010
M.H. asks from Salt Lake City, UT
10 answers

This question is primarily for anyone who is/has been a landlord or rented out their home:

So we are currently trying to sell our house, and lucky us with the economy the way it is we're having a hard time finding a buyer. In the meantime we've decided that we are going to rent our house out. We just put the add up yesterday and today we received a call from someone asking if we accept Low-Income Housing applicants. From what he said the government pays 75% and he pays 25% of the rent. Theoretically it sounds fine - as long as we get the rent money every month we don't really care who's paying it - but my concern is that since everyone doesn't accept it, what is the downside or the reason as to why someone wouldn't accept these applicants? Also, if the tenant does not pay their portion of the rent, does this complicate evicting them or draw the process out longer? I really wouldn't mind helping people out that are using this program, but I don't want to get burned for it but doing so, so I guess I'm really just looking for pros and cons so that we can make an educated decision on whether or not to accept this type of program.

Thanks in advance!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Orlando on

Like others said, anyone who rents can trash the house. But, I used to work with someone who rented houses for the low income thing....He said they never took care of the house. When they moved out, he always had to put money into fixing it up again before renting it out.

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answers from Chicago on

In my area, you have to have the house inspected and a whole bunch of other stuff before the gov't will approve you for the program. We rent the second floor of our building and we have turned away people that asked about it. I have friends that tried to go with the program but the requirements are so stringnet and worse than town compliance. While some people could not care less what they do to your property, others care even if they are subsidized. We have had some horrible tenants that decided paying rent was optional. Another decided that he could nail a carpet in to a newly refinished floor, and then did not pay rent for months. It is a royal pain to evict someone, subsidized or not. Make sure you use a lease and get a deposit. Make sure the lease states that the deposit will not be used for the last month's rent. You should be able to get a lease from a realtor near you or from a real estate attorney for a couple of bucks and then you can modify to fit your situation. As long as you don't go overboard with your requirements, you can change things to meet the needs of the home and stay in the law.
OH, and you can refuse to rent to someone as long as it is not based on race, sex, religion, etc. So if someone makes you feel creeped out or asks about the programs and you do not accept it, or if they have pets and you don't want someone with pets, or even if someone comes with 9 people and there are not enough bedrooms, you can say no. Also, I found out that I could refuse to rent to a wheelchair bound person if allowing the person to rent would cause extreme difficulty and require major modifications. (A person in a wheelchair would not be able to get up the stairs and I would not be reuired to put in a ramp unless they were already renting when they became chari bound) But you have to allow them to make their case and not jsut say no because you see the chair.
If anything, have the town ordinances on hand to back up in case you get a jerk looking to make some money. A neighbor decided to rent out his house and a guy that came, planned to have 9 people living there in a 3 bedroom which is against the ordinances, tried to sue him for discrimination. It was thrown out when the ordinances were shown. Never got to court.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

We were landlords of some rental property years ago. You can have bad renters on government assistance or not. The government has lots of requirements. We did rent to some of those on government assistance. Think long and hard about wanting to rent out your house. It can get expensive if you have to go to the point of evicting someone. Check references business and personal. Check previous rental history and not just on the place they lived in before wanting to rent from you. We had a strict "NO ANIMALS" policy. We insisted on first and last months rent and a pretty good sized security deposit. You never know how people are going to treat your property and if you have to fix things and replace things once they move out that can get expensive as well. I would also suggest if you do decide to rent it out, only start out with a short lease time, maybe only 6 months. If you have good renters extend it, if not tell them you aren't going to lease the property anymore and they have to move out because you are going to put it on the makret to sell. This is not against the law as long as you really do "attempt" to sell it. We also charged an application fee per each person that was going to live at the house and did a background check with SS # thru OSBI (OK State Bureau of Investigations). All states have something similar to this. Any citizen can do a background check on anyone else with their name, dob and SS#, at the time it cost about $15 for each background check. It is also harder to evict people with children - I can't remember exactly why and what the exact reasoning was with that, and it may be differ today.

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answers from New York on

the government usually is late with payments.. they will also check your house... and you'll have to update it with things they say. They will also be uninsured usually.. so no renters insurance. Most times they will not take care of your home.. maybe some damage too.... i wouldn't rent to them.. just tell them you might already have a cousin interested... so you don't get in trouble for saying no.. good luck... someone will rent. put an ad in the church or nearby diner.. tell others you are looking to rent your house..


answers from Dallas on

My grandparents rent one of their houses to a lady and she does take care of their house, she's an older lady. My grandma says she's a bit of a pack rat but the house is clean and care for. They also get their money from the government and her on time. I think you have to do a bit of investigation, did they take care of their last place, make sure you do talk to their previous landlords. You can still do a background check on them. There are some bad tenants out there that could destroy your home but there are some really nice people that do care for their house. My aunt was on government assistance and she took great care of the house she lived in. It wasn't up to code and the landlord wasn't going to do the things the housing authority wanted them to do so she had to move. Just because it's low income doesn't mean they won't take care of it. Just be careful who you rent it too...



answers from Denver on

I haven't personally been a landlord, but I'm on the board of our HOA and there are a few homeowners in our complex that rent their townhouses to Section 8 applicants.

I also questioned this the first time someone said they were working with Section 8 for their rental, and what I was told is that it's actually a good way to rent your home because you're guaranteed the portion of the rent the government is paying (as well as the HOA dues), and that there are very strict guidelines the renters have to follow. The downside is that there are also strict guidelines the homeowner has to follow as far as allowing inspections, having safety features in the home, etc. I would imagine if the renter was violating a part of the lease agreement that justified eviction, you would get support from the Section 8 department because they wouldn't want to be paying rent for someone who isn't holding up their end of the legal agreement.

One of my next door neighbors is a Section 8 renter, and she's one of the best renters that's lived there - always courteous, friendly, keeps her unit clean, etc. And she's lived there for a few years now, so I would assume she pays her portion of the rent on time.



answers from Denver on

I can't answer specifics for you, but good friends of ours own tons of rentals, as well as manage other rentals. I know they stay away from any kind of government subsidizing, which makes it hard where they are, but they would rather have empty places.

My mom has some neighbors that are renting under those conditions. It took about 2 weeks for the house to look completely trashed. The neighbors are pretty sure that the house could never be sold without major repairs after these people move out. That is, in fact, what happened to another neighbor's house. They reported huge holes in walls and floors,etc., type of problems. I'm not saying all families would be like that, but of the 2 I have seen, that is how it was.

I hope you can rent soon, if not sell.



answers from Salt Lake City on

We rented, for 2 years, to someone whose rent was paid by the Housing Authority and recently decided to not continue the lease. For the 1st 18 months it was good after that the housekeeping went to pot and her "friends" started coming around at all hours of the day and night. We lost an excellant renter because of this.

It is nice to get the rent but the aftermath that we are dealing with now, as far as the mess left upon move out, is not worth it. I would be very careful to whom you rent to, especially if you are wanting to sale the house eventually.



answers from Denver on

I am a landlord myself and I can tell you that the Pros are that you get the rent guaranteed from the govt. Con: It is not a guarantee that you get that other portion from your tenant. There is a reason that this person is on low-income subsidy. Not making a judgment here, just stating a fact. Sometimes it means that there is no steady income. Also, for some reason, some low-income people think that b/c they are low-income, they also have to trash your place, leave dog and cat feces in your place, etc.. I don't get it myself--I have been low-income before, but never once thought of trashing someone's rental. But I can only warn you and say that this is an insidious problem that I've dealt with, and my parents have with their rentals. I have learned to screen the applicants very well, check their credit through an online service, and call all of their past landlords and referenes. It's time-consuming, but you don't get burned in the end.



answers from San Antonio on

In order to accept low income subsidized housing payments, the landlord must be a registered provider of low-income housing. It is not the case (at least not in my state) that anyone can just accept payments from the gov't. The tenant has to fill out paperwork on your end, too, stating that their income is x amount and you are fulfilling your obligations to not take gov't money on behalf of a tenant who could actually afford it.

If you would like to see if you qualify for applying for accepting low income housing, you'd have to check with your state.

Good luck.

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