Why I asked My Section 8 Tenant to Leave

Section 8 renterI asked my Section 8 tenant to leave recently.  In reality, I did not ask her, I demanded she leave by 7/31/2014.  This was a tenant that has been with me since 2007, over seven years.  Well before I started getting into my 4-plexes and adding a significant amount of rental property to my portfolio.  The reasons were many…

Getting rid of a renter is not easy.  I do not like to remove renters that are paying in full every month.  I do not like to do a complete remodel on a unit that a tenant was willing to pay for as is.  I do not like to suffer a few months of vacancy, quite a few hours of work, and working non-stop for another several weeks just to get a place ready to get a situation that I already have.

This property was one of my duplexes.  My renter moved in after living in a shelter for a few months.  Most of her rent was paid by the Government; the total rent for the three bedroom unit was over $1200, which included utilities.  She was glad to get out of the shelter, and had a social worker for the first five years she lived in my apartment.  After the five years was up, she stayed and her rent was paid by a different government agency.

Her portion of the rent was 30% of the money she made from all other sources.  Since she did not work, I assume some of her income was child support, or basic welfare money.  Perhaps it was disability payments to her children.  I am not sure.  Wherever it came from, her portion was almost always on time, every month, automatically deposited to my account from the County.  There was a time or two that it may have been late due to some mix-up with the County, but it was rare.

When she first moved in, I had a lot of trouble with her smoking in the apartment.  Since I have a shared heating system, it is imperative that no one smokes in the unit.  Even after seven years, she still smoked in there.  I sent letters to the Section 8 office and to her to stop the indoor smoking.  While she may have slowed down on the indoor smoking, it was still a common occurrence.

Section 8 cabinetI saw her kids grow up and graduate from high school.  When she first moved in, she had an older daughter that lived in another part if the State.  Two daughters and a son that lived with her, and an infant that was also there.  Soon her older daughters graduated from high school, and moved out on their own.  I remember when my renter told me her daughters finally got their own Section 8 vouchers.  She seemed to think that they had finally made it.

When her daughters move out, and her son was getting close to being 18, she had another baby.  That would be six kids total.  It’s hard to tell what her reasoning was.  I suspect it was so that she did not lose her three bedroom voucher.  With only one child living at home, you only need a two bedroom voucher.  With two kids, you need a three bedroom voucher.

I saw her son go from a nice kid at 12 years old, to going to Jail for robbery at 18.  I saw her black eye that her son gave her on Christmas Eve in 2012 when they got into an argument.  We eventually took her son off the lease, and filed a ‘No Trespassing” order with the local police.  I believe this was mostly for her to show the Section 8 office he was not living there.  Her Section 8 was going to be cut because he was truant from school too often.  It was not long that she took him back in, and I was not pleased.

I was originally going to terminate her lease in July 2013.  I had just heard from a renter in the upper part of my duplex that she saw the son selling some sort of white powder.  He was still a juvenile at the time, and I notified the local police.  I was hoping that they could do something to scare him straight.  I even went so far as to tell him that the Dakota County Drug Task force has inquired about him, and asked him what was happening.  He said he wasn’t sure.

After I got new renters, I asked them to keep watch over the building and let me know if there was anything suspicious.  They did not see anything, and did not want to make a fuss, so I let my renter stay another year.

The supply of Section 8 housing in the area is very slim.  Most landlords do not take it.  It is only the very inexperienced landlords that do, or landlords that just have never had a good tenant.  Some landlords think that renter horror stories are the norm, which is not the case.  In reality, most renters are very good.  And it should only be very experienced landlords that take Section 8 participants, as they are such high risk tenants.  There is nothing wrong with the program, and many Section 8 tenants are great, but the risk for a bad tenant is exponentially higher with Section 8.

After I gave my tenant notice in the middle of May 2014 to move out by 7/31/2014, I received a “Notice of Inspection” from the Section 8 office.  Normally they do not inspect the unit if the tenant is moving out.  I passed last year’s inspection without any write-ups, and this year I passed too.  It would have been real easy to keep her at that point, just sign another lease.  I am not sure why I passed the inspection, as I saw a few minor items that should have failed.  I suspect it was either a new inspector, or they did not want to cause any landlords to get out of the program unless the issue was very serious.

Over the years, there were several other things that made my Section 8 tenant difficult than a market priced tenant.  Here are a few, in addition to the smoking and Son issues…

It was always difficult to contact her.  Her phone would be on for a while, then off.  Sometimes she could only take a text, sometimes nothing.  He number changes several times during her tenancy.

I had a picture window break from the outside, and no one knew what happened.   The cost was over $500 to replace.  It may have been a kid’s ball, or someone throwing a rock at the house her son lived in,   I am not sure, and it may not have been her fault at all.  Either way, windows generally do not break on their own.

Section 8 Lazy SusanShe always seemed to have extra people living there.  I do not think they were there all year, but sometimes I think for a few months at a time she would have people staying over.  One time, her eldest daughter moved in for a few months and my tenant lost her Section 8 for a while.  I was a month late and got a check from the County for “Emergency Assistance” until it was straightened out.

She had another tenant there for a few months, and the Section 8 office made her pay ~$300 to get the assistance re-instated.  Since she did not have the money, and I would be out a lot more in rent than $300, I loaned her the money.  It eventually got paid back, but it was another headache for me.

She, or her guests, would steal from my other tenants.  Once, one of my tenants went to the grocery store and left a case of water in her car, which was in the garage.  The water went missing after my tenant went upstairs and did not return to bring the water back up for a couple of hours.  In a duplex, it’s easy to know who takes what.

Another time, my other tenant caught my section 8 tenants’ guest using their bag of charcoal.  Why buy your own charcoal if you can just use someone else’s for free.  It is a small nuisance, but an issue nonetheless.

I did not want her kid, or any friends, hanging around with the saggy pants.  Call it what you want, but I view it as a disrespect of my property.  If you are going to do that, please move.  I am not telling you what to wear, I am only telling you what not to wear if you live in my apartment.

I had two or three disturbance calls over the years, as her daughter(s) could not keep the proper boyfriends.  If you want to date an abuser, that’s your call.  I don’t care if he beats the crap out of you, and you do not seem to mind either, just do not do it in my apartment.

There was always extra ‘stuff’ there.  It seemed like when her friends got evicted, or put in jail, their stuff would up in my place being used for storage.   Once I had an entire household’s worth of stuff from one of her friends.  The husband went to jail for twelve years and the wife went into treatment for some mental issues.  I had to throw out all sorts of stuff.  Clothes, wedding pictures, dishes etc.  I could have donated them, but they were put outside and got rained on.

I got a letter from the City for her putting items outside and not disposing them.  When a tenant has no money, they expect someone else to pay to get rid of her stuff.  Over the years, I have removed mattresses, furniture, and all sorts of other items for her that was no longer wanted.

Light bulbs in the common area basement were always missing or burned out.  I think she used to use the common light bulbs as a place to get bulbs rather than buy them.

And over the course of the years, there were many additional instances of the same sort of drama.  And she was not nearly the worst Section 8 tenant that I had.

In the end, my tenant stayed an additional eight days, and did not move out until late on 8/8/2014.  The place was a mess, and I had a lot of items to get rid of.  It will require a total remodel to get it ready for a great tenant.  That was my last Section 8 tenant.

What are your stories about Section 8?  Or bad renting stories?

118 Replies to “Why I asked My Section 8 Tenant to Leave”

    1. LOL.

      Once you ave become a landlord, and have seen all sort of people, you understand why people are in the situation that they are. Far too many people are just living life for themselves, without any care in the world. Not even jail.

  1. That seems like a lot of headache, but it also seems like a section 8 tenant could work out in your favor, if they were better renters. So far, I have been fortunate with my renters, with one exception. When my current renters moved in, it was a married couple and the father’s son. The man left her and now she is by herself, renting a huge house from me. I adjusted the rent to help her until her leases runs out, but I am still profiting. It’s not a horror story since she is a great renter, but it’s less than ideal.

      1. You never checked to verify her income? You state you had no idea where she got her portion of the rent in your article.

        She could have been getting it by drug dealing, human trafficking, or prostitution for all you know.

        If I were you Id ask your applicants to verify their source or sources of income. Reverse trace any numbers they give. If hypothetically they list the manager of Papa Johns or Little Caesar’s as a reference try calling the actual place of business during open hours to verify one of her friends isnt lying and pretending to be her boss or former boss.

        Verifiable income for the last few years should do it. …and check out any info she gives to see if she is lying.

        If you had done this that horrible problem tennent would never have passed your screening process in a million years.

        1. Often, the tenants portion is $0, or something like $50. They can get that from Child Support, welfare or other subsidies.

          Checking income is not really valid for a Section 8 renter. you will be paid. Section 8 knows what the tenant makes, verifies it 1000%, makes them pay 30% of that verifies amount, and pays the rest.

          1. A tenant pays 30% of their income. Some Section 8 participants pay $0, some $50. Some like yourself, pay close to $600.

            Based on my experience, most pay a small amount as they do not have any real job.

      2. I have pretty decent credit (600s-low 700s), and I’ve lived in a low income public housing apartment for over four years. I’ve been on time rent-wise 48/49 months I’ve been here. I pay my rent a month in advance after the PO delivered my rent late. And I do not smoke. I’m just poor, and a powerchair user, although I can walk inside, and my using different mobility aids does make for scratches and damages that would be unlawful to kick me out.

        The tenant in this article smoking inside is a clear lease violation, and often many leases will have clauses for multiple violations as just cause to terminate tenancy. I can’t imagine that there would have been an issue to terminate the tenancy after multiple notices. Frankly, not doing this makes me take this so-called “no-nonsense” landlord less seriously.

        1. Thank you for reading!

          Unfortunately proving smoking to a Judge is a bit more difficult if the tenant denies it. A judge may not want to put an entire family out of a home just due to smoking. They may side with the tenant and just tell the landlord that is what a damage deposit is there for. If you lose in court, that effectively gives permission.

          You have to pick your battles, and time them as well. Just as you plan rehabs, you plan vacancies and terminate leases when it is convenient and not at he same time as other vacancies.

  2. Was it difficult to get them to leave? One of the things I’ve heard people say is that evicting section 8 tenants can be difficult. But I don’t know if thats reality or just anecdotal info or horror stories talking.

    WE’d considered section 8 tenants ourselves but never did it. It just didn’t seem worth the hassle. Unfortunately we’re now required to accept applications from section 8 due to a new local law. We’re not required to rent to them but we can’t turn them away for being section 8.

    What happens if your house fails the inspection for section 8? The house we have vacant now is very unlikely to pass their inspections.

    1. She stayed an extra 9 days, other than that it was a typical lease termination. She did not have a car, so viewing other apartments was more difficult. In the end, she put her things in storage and moved in with friends.

      If you fail the initial section 8 inspection, you do not get paid for those days it was not in compliance. Subsequent inspections give you 30 days or so to make the fixes.

      Just make sure you have solid credit score criteria, and you will be OK.

  3. You seem kinda like a tight ass. I’m reading a lot of “my apartment” statements, when someone rents an apartment isn’t it “their apartment”
    When you buy a house does the mortgage company tell you how to dress in “their house” ??

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      You are right, it is my apartment. Even if it is rented. The bank has some restrictions on me, and I have even tighter restrictions on my tenants. If they do not want as many restrictions, they can buy their own place.

      When a renter is bothering another renter, I can ask them to leave. When they want to paint, I can say no. When they want to pay on the second of the month, rather than the 1st, I can evict. But that is why I increased the tenant quality at all my rentals. Low quality tenant habits are too much drama.

      Why offer an apartment to someone, like yourself, who thinks they are entitled to something, rather than understand the proper customer relationship. Both sides need to benefit, or it is not worth it.

      1. That was good. Really excellent response to an entitled person. I am copying that for latter use. Muhuhahahaha!!!

      2. I’m with you, the landlord. Why offer an apartment to someone who thinks they are entitled to something rather than understand the proper customer relation?

    2. Mike, renting isn’t buying. Period. Landlords own the property and renters are just renting it. Banks do not own the house. They own a loan and the house is collateral. Sure if you fail to repay the loan they can foreclose but thats just not the same as renting. If renters want 100% freedom with a property then they can buy one. Sorry thats life.

        1. The saggy pants is just how some kids dress . But I sometimes wonder if they are even comfortable in those clothes , those clothes will fall off at any moment . But that is just a style some young people like to wear . I honestly don’t think someone should be evicted over how they dress . And this has nothing to do with entitlement mentality . But I do agree that the style is an ugly style .

          1. Thank you for reading!

            If the saggy pants look would help me rent the other units in my multifamily buildings, I would be all for it. Unfortunately, most people think of crime, drugs and gangs when they see it. So, I do not want it around.

    3. Right I actually understand everything this landlord is saying this tenant sound like a headache and lazy but things probably didn’t work out so well because he look at the unit as “his apartment” and walked around and dealt with things in a “my apartment” manner . Your pride will be your downfall . Yes the property is owned by you we all understand that part but it’s hard for someone to make “Your Apartment” their home . Since its your apartment u fix everything , you dump the trash , you don’t worry about who broke the window because is your apartment and the tenants are just visiting leaving them no true responsibilities because it’s all yours after all right ?

      1. Thank you for reading!

        A owner needs to have several hats. They are often a property manager, a investor and a handyman. Taking too much to heart over a relatively simple repair, when you have enough money in the deposit to cover it, is not worth it.

        Do the maintenance, get paid from the deposit. Manage the repair, get rid of the tenant. As an owner, just collect the cash.

    4. No, when someone rents an apartment, it’s NOT their apartment. Whatever gave you that silly idea? It’s their domicile for 30 days at a time, but they do NOT OWN it, the owner does, therefor the owner dictates the rules, which is why some people choose to purchase their own homes.

      1. Thank you for reading!

        You are 100% correct. The tenant is a user of the apartment, not an owner. A big difference. Having said that, as a owner/manager, you need to just make any repairs and deduct from the deposit. If the tenant is still there, you have them replenish the deposit, or move out.

  4. I’m a non-section 8 LL. I watched a high school buddy do almost 100% section 8 on his 27 units over 10 years ago. Sadly, I watched this poor guy age before my very eyes. He ended up losing everything when the RE crash occurred.

    He made the fatal error of refinancing to pull cash out too many times and maxed out his monthly payments to near negative cash flow. So no money left for repairs. So he couldn’t keep up with the section 8 tenants shredding his units. I hope he got all his investment back on all the refi’s. He never gave me the final tally. Anyway you look at it though, In my mind, he messed up. Maxed Refi, Section 8 and other errors.

    It scared me off being a LL for several years. Which fortunately for me, let me completely miss the 2000-2008 boom-bust. Finally after a lot of research, I figured out section 8 is the source of a lot of headaches and regular “working” moderate income tenants (3-3.5x rent) were generally much less headaches and are the way to go.

    Life is to short to be a ex-government housing babysitter.

    So I have been able to buy foreclosures for a decent cap rate after the crash. But I worry about my state becoming like Illinois where you can’t discriminate against section 8 income. I have read a report where fair housing in Indiana is now pushing for the same laws.

    Speaking of Fair Housing I heard some real horror stories of testers putting LL’s through the ringer on mere technicalities. Have you heard about 81 year old Helen Grawboski in Ohio? They sent a tester to respond to her “no pets” rental ad in January asking about a fictitious “sibling” who suffers from anxiety ( we all suffer from anxiety and it is a grey area as to if it is a disability) and has a companion animal. Note: no mention of service animal. Helen agreed to the animal but asked for a pet deposit because service animal was not mentioned. So around 11 months later (plenty of time for all the little details in memory to get lost) Fair Housing hauls her in on this dubious at best technicality and demands a “mediated” fine using their mediators of several thousand dollars. She baulks and now Fair Housing has raised the fine to over $100,000. So it looks like this is going to trial and may become case law. So LL’s everywhere need to watch this fight and participate in the movement against such action as it can be very harmful to our industry and more importantly discourage such Fair Housing underhanded activity. If they win this, it will be a shot in the arm for their tactics and I can assure you they will not get more gentle going forward.

    IMHO, This is a beachhead moment.

    Sorry for the lengthy post.

    I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences about the fair housing and tester tactics. Maybe write a few articles about them.

    1. I am not sure if I have ever had a tester or not. I generally give the same response to everyone (as best as my memory allows…), my minimum credit scores, income level, etc. Section 8 is not the problem. It is the high risk tenants that are on Section 8. Once you learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, via credit score and income, it’s easy. It doesn’t matter if a person is on Section 8 or not. If they mandated Section 8, I would still be able to use my credit score and income criteria. Remember, many people are on the Section 8 waiting list, they will apply too. If you do not know how to use screening criteria and screening results, you are done.

      I allow pets. I generally charge $25 per dog/cat. If someone has a companion animal, I do not charge. But when the lease is up, the rent can go up. You need the renter to be happy as you can get them, so they stay year after year.

  5. Interesting observations about Section 8 tenants. We do not have rental assistance here but my last tenant moved and left a huge utility bill which I am trying to get her to pay. It’s incredibly difficult as the deposit was already forfeited and I am now in the situation of chasing for the cash.

    I totally understand your unwillingness to rent to voucher assistance tenants again with all those additional issues. One renter bothering another makes for a very difficult situation as good tenants leave properties over this. You don’t ever want to loose a good tenant because of a bad one.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      It’s really not the programs, but the tenants. And if only a handful of the participants may be good, it’s a lot of work to sift through them. I have a hard enough time sifting through market based tenants. So, since I am allowed to avoid Section 8 participants, it saves a bunch of time by not even showing a property to them.

  6. Yes, I agree, It is wise to have pretty demanding screening criteria. 3x rent or more gross income, no evictions, no criminal,fair or better credit score. I staple a copy of mine to every app I hand out. It is that criteria that hopefully keeps the majority of the bad actors out. My buddy got pretty desperate after the refi’s and was starting to take anybody who had move in money.

    That was the beginning of the end.

    I am willing to wait for the better screened tenant to come along. Though sometimes it can take several disheartening weeks for them to finally appear.

    If you haven’t been “tester’d” then consider yourself very lucky. They are *very* active in my area. (100 mile radius) and are preying on small mom and pop LL’s. Fines are almost always in the several thousands plus you have to pay to post a sizable ad in your local newspaper naming yourself and “apologizing” for your suppose-ed discrimination. Even if it is a fictitious and/or dubious grey area. All without going to trial. Then if you baulk, they really turn the heat up on you.

    IMHO, These are government funded and ordained rentiers strong-arming small time LL’s for thousands to line their own pockets. They are supposed to be a non-profit but the staffed lawyers are fully allowed to charge the high-end of their rates for their “services” to the organization which the LL’s fund through their fines. My bet is they are in your area. Grabowski is in a more rural less populated county called Ashtabula. I guess the neighboring Lake county fair housing came over to do the test. Google a HUD fair housing agency listing for your area. Check nearby counties also. You have been fortunate to have not encountered them yet. Pray that you never do.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      I am sure I will be tested, or have been tested. Once again, despite what many people say about Section 8, it is definitely the people on the program, not the program. And it’s only the people with low income and low credit scores, not everyone on the program. I prefer email responses to my ads, then I can send a standard cut/paste response to everyone. As people ask questions, I add it to my response (dogs, availability, location, etc.). Since I literally get 25+ responses to my ads every day I run them, I cannot talk to everyone in person (and still manage my other units, do maintenance, work a full time job, etc.)

      I have taken several renters without ever meeting them, just by my criteria.

  7. Hi – nothing to add here other than to say I love your landlord stories. I am not a renter or LL but lots of good info to keep in mind if that situation changes.

      1. I’m receiving section 8 voucher and living in the same house 14 years. My three daughters graduated college with full scholarship. My husband fixed all the minor things around the house. Section8 tenants are not bad tenants, and the program is a big help for us. You could always easily find bad tenants everywhere, section8 or not. Sorry for your unfortunate experience.

        1. Thank you for the comment!

          You are absolutely correct. Section 8 is just a program, not a group of people. All people are individuals, so good, some bad. That is why I stress credit score as a major indicator of tenant quality. I still decline great people, but my risk is lower.

          The larger risk is people that cannot get on Section 8 as they have been kicked off the program, or cannot get on it in the first place as they have a bad past.

  8. Hello,
    Stories like this are why I’ve avoided Section 8 tenants. I have been a LL for a couple of properties. One of them has been rented for over 5 yrs. with no vacancies. It’s unique in that it’s close to a major college so I’ve always had college girls. I’ve never done credit score checks since most of them have very little credit experience. I’ve had parents co-sign or leased to them if they had at least a part time job. It’s a two bedroom with 4 girls so it’s affordable. When one moves out they usually find another to move in which I have to approve. And yes, I’ve turned down some.
    Had another property (before a divorce forced me to sell). Had a renter that inherited some money and wanted to pay a year in advance see he knew he wasn’t good at budgeting money. He told me that another place turned him down since they wouldn’t do it that way. He renewed the lease the next year and did the same thing.

    Would like to get another property but Southern CA is pretty inflated right now.

  9. I am not sure how you are getting all these bad section 8 tenants. Maybe it is different where you are. Here in Riverside County California the wait list for section 8 has been closed for ten years. But before that, people usually waited an average 7 to 10 years to get on. They don’t give it to people who have a criminal record. And generally priority is given to elderly and disabled. Once they get it, they don’t want to do anything to mess it up. So I am confused.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      In MN, there is about a 3-5 year wait. They also check criminal records. I believe they only look for felonies, but I am not 100% sure. If you have not had an issue, perhaps you are only renting one bedroom apartments, or other smaller units. It could also be that you have had a success or two, or not many turnovers.

      Once you get to a 3+ bedroom unit, the troubles become exponential. All you have to do is Google Section 8 Horror Stories, or similar, and the stories are limitless. It doesn’t mean that all Section 8 tenants are bad. But hey are very high risk. I would rather just avoid the risk, and the extra drama, of the Section 8 tenant.

      If you apply a credit score, stringent criminal record criteria, and use past landlord records, you may be able to get a good Section 8 tenant, but you will have to sift through so many you can better use your time on market rate tenants.

      All you have to do

      1. I work for a metro county and with the emergency assistance program. Once upon a time I was as Libby liberal libtard as a person could get before falling off the political spectrum scale altogether. This program has been a major eye opener to me. Eligibility rules are only once in a 12 month period. We have a list of repeaters who come in like clockwork at that 12 month point looking for “my emergency” and, because they must also demonstrate that it is an emergency, they don’t have the resources to handle it themselves, and that 50% of income was used on basic needs … the repeat offenders have their stories on auto dial. I hear on the daily that “I” am the reason why children will be sleeping in shelters and have been called every curse word in the book, and in multiple languages. We have a bleeding heart manager who buys every enormous half baked lie, such as clients filling out their own shelter forms that are supposed to be done by the landlord (they don’t even disguise the handwriting from their applications). They forge county guarantee letters, on the rare occasion we are allowed to deny (usually only when the applicant just gives up and goes away when told they are denied), to buy themselves a few extra months. Those in Section 8, we will all but whip the money out of our own pockets to preserve those vouchers. And the landlords, who are at least getting their 70% on time, are all too willing to wait that 12 month period when the county will pick up the tab on unpaid rent. Ditto utility companies, in certain zip codes they will allow utility bills to run up to the maximum the county will pay before disconnecting. We pay millions to XCEL. And, as for reason not a single basic need bill didn’t get paid? Always, inevitably, a funeral out of town for a dearly departed. Oh, and the crooked landlords, too …. I have been doing this too long. I’ve grown disgusted at tossing my tax dollars and yours, like candy, at people who’ve never met a bill they thought they had to pay.

        1. Thank you for reading!

          I have seen it all too. There really is no benefit to working, unless you can do it on your own terms. Too many tax dollars are wasted on people that probably should be required to work or get an education.

          1. I am not on section 8 but I do have low-income housing. It’s just my daughter and I because my ex-husband and I seperated when I was 4 months pregnant. I’ve been a renter for just about 5 years now. I’ve never met my landlord but I rent through a housing authority. Ive had some seriously screwed up neighbors. One guy that lived above me use to pound on my floors all hours of the night. Then he would call the cops on me because my two year old daughter was crying at 9 o clock at night. The people who lived below me were disgusting and smelled worse than you could possibly imagine. The couple that lived below me had two small children who always ran around in their underwear, with visitors visiting. Their visitors stayed all hours of the night, just about every night of the week.

            Ive been unemployed for several years, since I discharged from the military. Since my discharge, I’ve been a college student. Also a single mom, like I mentioned above.

            I never really ask the housing authority for anything unless I have a clogged toilet and they charge me like 60 bucks.

            Recently I called and asked to get my walls painted because I have been here for so many years. They approved me and said I could do it myself or maintence would do it for me.

            I called back to verify a few things, and now they say that I can only paint one wall in each room a color besides white and they are only giving me 6 colors to choose from.

            Honestly, I do not want to even waste my time.

            Yes, my walls need a touch up because their are stains that have accumulated throughout the years, but I was really really hoping for a change, something that would be thrilling to wake up to every morning. A green kitchen and dining room. A brown living room. A red bedroom. A purple bedroom for my daughter. An orange bathroom.

            Now that doesn’t even seem like a possibility.

            I think I have been a rather good tenant.

            What do I have to do to relieve some of this stress?

          2. Thank you for reading!

            You can move. Paint anyway, on your own dime, and possibly get penalized for it. Even white paint would make it look better, why not go with their colors? Your colors are a landlord’s nightmare….

  10. You people talk about section 8 tenants like they’re another species. I’ve got news for you. There are plenty of section 8 renters that are exceptional tenants and there are also people who are NOT on section 8 that are TERRIBLE tenants. Just because someone receives government assistance does not mean they should automatically be grouped into the “bad tenant” category. People are PEOPLE no matter how much money they make or how the rent is paid. ONE landlord’s experience with ONE section 8 tenant does not dictate how the rest will be. Pff. Ignorant people and their soapboxes.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      You are correct, all Section 8 tenants are not all bad. But the risk is way outside of most tenants. There are many other tenants that are trying to get in Section 8, or are already kicked off Section 8 that are just as bad. Credit score, income, criminal records and past landlord references will separate the higher risk ones so you can avoid them.

      That is why it is important to use other tools, like credit score and income levels to weed out the riskier tenants. A Section 8 tenant with a high credit score and decent income would likely be a great tenant.

        1. Thank you for reading!

          It really depends on what you think is an acceptable criminal record. They can have several DWIs, driving without insurance, driving without a license. Many small misdemeanors, including some older shoplifting, etc. The thing to remember is that Section 8 is just a program, you need to be able to screen people, no matter what.

    2. Can’t help but to point out that folks who need government help to pay for the basic necessity of housing may not be that good with money. Think about it.

      1. I agree. And I am not opposed to someone that is getting help from the government. I am opposed to all the drama that is produced by anyone, government assistance or not. As I have stated before, Section 8 is just a program. It doesn’t get to pick and choose the type people on it in regards to tenant quality and drama. Credit score is just an indicator too, and income is not factored into the formula.

        So, I use credit score as a leading indicator. If a tenant is responsible, they will likely have a solid credit score. The more responsible a person is, the less drama.

  11. I can’t understand why section 8 doesn’t require tenants to work. That encourages laziness. I am trying to evict my section 8 tenant who has hired a legal aid lawyer. This is a huge headache and I will never accept section 8 again.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      No one has to work in the USA. It is a volunteer work society. Your tenant got a free lawyer, and you paid for it via your taxes.

      That is another reason I am retiring early. I am sick of paying as many taxes as I do, just so others can retire at 18 years of age with 2+ kids.

      1. Or six kids…or 8…….or 13

        I know one scumbag on the dole in Iowa City who had five kids and got them permanently taken away from her for neglect because of her druggy bullcrap….then she just went and had three more.

        She literally dose not care about amy of them and just uses them to solicit pity from other people and to get money.

        You are the bad guy when you the financially responsible person who keeps it in their pants or at the very least uses a condom will not give them free food and free housing.

        And if you try helping them and their kids they will bring drama and jerry springer malarkey into your life and either try to have you arrested by making false accusations against you or try to have you jumped bt their friends…and if you defend yourself and pull a weapon on their friends while they are jumping you thrn you are the “bad guy” according to them.

        I know from experience.

    2. because they are elderly or disabled . And maybe they have worked . And some people might have to stop working if they have a stroke . I don’t judge others .You’re very lucky not to be disabled .

        1. I am disabled and on section 8 subsidy. I worked hard until I was unable to and would not be on section 8 or disability if I didnt have to be. It was difficult for me to win my case and took four years to get it. In my state they wont allow you to keep a voucher if you get a felony or cause enough trouble to be evicted. I feel for what is being said by landlords because I was one myself in my twenties. I think many who get this voucher get used to the help and may take it for granted. There are issues with voucher holders but there are plenty of tenants
          who are rotten without section 8 also.

          1. Thank you for reading!

            You are right, it is the people, not the program. Unfortunately, there are just too few good tenants on Section 8, so most landlords, including myself, avoid the program altogether.

        2. Right you are No Nonsense Landlord. While many many disability claims are legitimate many are not.

          I know a girl named Amanda in Iowa City who got hers by being “bipolar” and she can work she just dosnt want to. Had 5 kids then had them permanently taken by the government because she left them at home in a trialer with big holes in the floor and maggots all over…then she just had more kids. She is a prostitute to and earns extra tax free money on top of her monthly check. Steals stuff constantly to. Even stole her moms debit card.

          I also know a guy named Rodger in Florida who is faking a back injury. I know he is faking because he earns extra tax free money lockmithing on the sly and he rides his bike to and from the beach almost every day (30 minute ride). He also never shows signs of pain in his back.

          I also know people who have legitimate disabilities to and who worked for a living prior to becoming disabled and who need that check. Its a shame scum like Amanda and Rodger spoil it for the rest of them.

          1. I have seen many bad disability claims myself. There are many law firms that send you to a Dr. to get qualified for disability and they do not require payment upfront.

            If you do not get on disability, they do not charge.

            As a disable vet myself, sometimes I feel a bit guilty, but I actually served. And it is not a large sum of money.

      1. Actually anon nimus you do judge people and are being quite hypocritical about it. You are judging him. This is hypocrisy since you say that it is wrong to judge.

        I personally am very judgmental. For example if I had a daughter I would never let a convicted pedophile babysit her and if a church, camp, or school had a convicted rapist or pedophile on staff I would withdraw myself and my child from that place forevermore. That is judgmental.

        Sometimes it is evil not to judge. Sometimes it is wrong to judge (for example hypocritical judgment like judging people for judging)

        1. There certainly should be a requirement for any working age adult to attend education, or perform some volunteer effort a minimum of 30 hours a week if they are getting a public subsidy.

          Anyone under 65 or so. There is always some work or volunteer effort that someone can do. It helps the other unfortunate and give the working person a higher self-worth.

  12. We recently had a section 8 tenant move out of our home. She did not worked and continued to have children in order to keep a 3 bedroom voucher. She lived in the home for several years and was on a month to month lease. We gave her a 45 day notice and asked her to move by the end of the following month. She became so upset and felt it was unfair that we gave her a notice to vacate. She requested more time, but we did not budge and required her to move on the date originally requested.

    Once she moved, and we inspected the home we found extensive damage including holes in the walls, holes cut in the carpet, windows broken, damaged door, etc. We notified her that she would not be getting any of her deposit back due to the damage (itemized charges). She became irate and couldn’t believe she would not get any of her deposit back! We even told her the damages far exceeded the amount she paid in deposit and we plan to eat the rest of the charges. It just made her more upset and she filed a lawsuit against us for her deposit and punitive damages. We chose to answer her suit by filing a counter claim for the full amount of the damages.

    We had court a few days ago and needless to say, she was awarded nothing and we won our counterclaim for the full amount.

    It appeared this section 8 tenant felt entitled to everything; rent, groceries, deposit! She never worked, but expected to get everything for nothing.

    We are done with Section!

    1. Thank you for reading!

      Your experience is not unusual. Many landlords have had issues with Section 8 tenants. But it is not the program, it is the people. Unfortunately, far too many people on Section 8 have a deeply ingrained entitlement mentality. Focus on attributes of great tenants, like solid employment, great credit scores, no criminal history and solid rental history. Be sure to not rely on the past landlord checks too much.

    2. Most people think that people like you will never collect damages you won from tennents like that. Those people are wrong. Sometimes you can collect ….eventually

      The former tennent might inherit money from a relative who actually worked for a living….and maybe if that happens you can collect on it.

  13. Let me just say I just got a section 8 voucher makes you no better than me I was married for 10 years and me and my husband divorced last year I have all my children 4 to be exact and the way I look at it is I do not plan on being on section 8 forever maybe a year until I can get stable. I’m a high school graduate I’m a college graduate and I have 2 degrees I want something in life and I’m not “the worst” section 8 tenant I take great care of the property it’s very clean and I stay to myself by myself me and my children my rental place stay so clean when people come in they don’t even know I have children with all that said some section 8 tenants are not bad at all I have a job actually 2 jobs so it’s not that u want take section 8 it’s that you view people from how their appearance look.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      You are right, Section 8 is just a program. It is not people. Credit score and income are better predictors to a great tenant than any program. Unfortunately, most Section 8 renters have bad credit which makes them high risk in terms of collecting rent and behaviors. A low credit score indicates a big problem in the tenant relationship that will likely result by renting to them. It is better left to professional landlords with deep pockets, the government.

  14. Something i learn as a new landlord is no to rent section 8 tenants. I ask my tenant to move in june this is almost February and still no luck section 8 is no paying rent because i didn’t pass inspection do to them braking stuff and she is no giving me access i don’t know what to do. Can i sue section 8 for my money after she move?

    1. Thank you for reading!

      remember, Section 8 is just a program. Understand what makes a risky tenant (credit score, income, criminal history and rental history). You can get hurt plenty bad with a non-section 8 tenant. real bad tenants get kicked off section 8 and many do not even get on it.

  15. That was an entertaining and interesting article. Realistically, as a landlord I imagine you’d have to be a good judge of character in order to find the right tenants. A person’s judgment is telling about who they are. At the end of the day, a landlord chooses the tenants who will reside in his/her section 8 rental and because section 8 is scarce the landlord has many applicants to choose from. If a landlord chooses the wrong person or family then the landlord should deal with them because that’s who the landlord wanted. My sympathy goes out to the section 8 voucher holders who are looking for a home for some stability, to have a job, and to go forward in their lives.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      You are right, but you need to be a good judge of character in a non-discriminatory way. Using credit score is a terrific way to separate tenants that lie and cheat others from tenants that do not. Responsibility in a financial area correlates to personal behaviors too.

    2. Well Anonymous, unless you are psychic, that strategy to weed out a good tenant from the bad on their character and your intuition, won’t work. The tenant handles getting an apt. like they’re on a job interview…best clothes on, best manners shining out, most manerable children you will ever know, best foot (feet) forward and all…until you let them move in and you find out that the whole interview thing was an act that was well performed. The tenant that I am trying to get out of my unit right now (eviction) even had good credit, but the reason they have good credit is because they pay there bills with the money they should have been paying their rent with. They had excuses every month for being later and later with the rent until it went into the next month. And by the time you’ve put them on notice and went through the eviction process, they are three month’s behind paying you and have literally taken your rent money owed to you (the Landlord) and paid off all their bills with money to spare for recreation and enough deposit to move into someone else’s unit and start the cycle all over again.

  16. Wow after reading everyone’s post, I am thankful my section 8 tenant has been good for 4 years so far. I sometimes come by to check around the house and notice the place is clean and well taken care of. Wish I could say the same for my friend who has rented to countless bad section 8 tenants. One of those tenants managed to break in a neighbors house and steal an hdtv, computers, and some dishware. The guy was finally caught 3 months later hiding out in a friends house.

    But yes it is important to check a persons credit to see if they got in trouble with the law before. That tenant tore up my friends house, broke out some windows, wall was plastered with all sorts of stuff, and wooden floor had scratch marks all over. He told me he believes more people must have lived there while that bad tenant was there with her two kids. Anyways like you said not all people are bad, just a few bad apples that like to ruin it for everyone else.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      It’s great you have a good tenant. What was your method of getting a good one?

      Often people label all Section 8 tenants as bad, as they do not know how to screen tenants. It is hard to get a good Section 8 tenant, but there are good ones.

        1. Congratulations!

          It is important to make sure the rest of your financial life mimics other good tenants. Solid credit score and no criminal background. Keep out the uninvited extra tenants, even for a day.

  17. I think most landlord put all sec 8 people in one catorgory . This is not fair . My rent is payed ontime and i always keep m place very nice . Just because some peiple get sec 8 doesnt make them all scum bags . What would it be if everyone thought all landlord are slum lords . Thete are alot of those too. I tgink dont go sec 8 because their hiding something or their unit wouldnt pass and skip tax on their rentals and lie about what they collect

    1. Thank you for reading!

      many people do put Section 8 categories in one group. Most section 8 tenants are low caliber people, not just low caliber tenants. There are some diamonds in the rough though. When you are trying to be efficient, it is easier to just exclude Section 8 tenants.

      I believe that Section 8 tenants can be good, assuming they have a good credit score. If not, I lump them in with the rest of the liars and cheaters of the world.

      1. After living in public housing for the past 3 years, I recently received a section 8 voucher. I was happier than a kid on Christmas when I got the call to come in for my voucher; I’d finally be able to move my daughter and I out of the ghetto, and get my child into a better school. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for reality to set in. The reality was that finding a landlord in a low poverty area that would accept my voucher was much harder than I had inticipated. For all of you that are furious with the way landlords look at section 8 tenants you need to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that “MOST” (not all) section 8 tenants have an entitlement mentality, and most could care less about taking care of their/your (landlords) property. I’ve been in public housing for 2+ years (I’m not proud of it) and 99% of the tenants in here have that mentality, and it’s the norm to see 5-7 y/o kids running around the complex day and night without supervision, bikes left in the middle of the street, etc. My daughter gets bullied by these kids at least once a week. These tenants that I want to get away from make up a majority of section 8 tenants, so it’s no wonder landlords want nothing to do with section 8. It’s not the landlords that you should be mad at, as frustrating as it may be. Personally I don’t want to be in public housing or on section 8 but at this point in time I don’t have many other options. I got hurt at work several years ago and have been unable to work since. I’ve had 3 back surgeries, rods & screws in my back, and permanent nerve damage in my lower back, and both my legs. I’m on Section 8 because of my disability, not because of some entitlement mentality. Being disabled doesn’t make it any easier to find a landlord to accept my voucher either, if anything I’d say it’s even harder for me. When I got hurt at work, and was unable to return to work, my bills not only began to pile up, but it also took a huge toll on my marriage as well (now divorced), and of course impacted my credit score as well. In the past 15 years I’ve lived in many apartments, houses, duplexes, etc. and only once was my rent ever late (I was in the hospital), never been evicted, and have received my full security deposit back from every landlord, yet I now struggle to find a landlord to accept my voucher. Yea I’m frustrated, but I honestly don’t blame the landlords that turn me away because of my voucher.

        “No Nonsense Landlord” is right…I’ve got 2 strikes against me, one being my section 8 voucher, the second being my low credit score that came about when I wasn’t able to return to work.

        Paying those bills off doesn’t magically bring your credit score back up either, it still takes time. I finally found a landlord willing to accept my voucher in a low poverty area, but it wasn’t until I stopped mentioning that I had a voucher until after I first had an opportunity to speak to the landlord 1 on 1. He was against it at first, but eventually agreed. Either I had a compelling argument that changed his mind, or maybe it was the money order that I pulled out equal to 3 months rent (landlords proposed rent x 3) that I offered as a security deposit.

        So for anyone that’s struggling to find a landlord to accept your voucher, try meeting him/her in person and convince them that you’re not like a majority of the people on section 8. If your credit is low for reasons other than just too lazy to pay your bills, print a copy of your credit report, and bring it with you when you go to meet the landlord and be able to explain not only why your score is low, but also what your doing to improve it, etc. Yea this can be a lot of work and many probably can’t be bothered to jump through so many hoops but if you can’t be bothered than don’t expect the landlord to bother or care either if they tell you “no”. Section 8 has a bad rap, and Landlords have a business to run with families to feed, so if you want them to look past that bad rap it’s up to you to prove that you’re better than the typical section 8 stereotype. Like it or hate it, it is what it is.

        Jim Day….I disagree with your thinking that just because someone “needs” government assistance with housing that they may not be that good with money. First think about “WHY” a majority of people are on section 8?…Answer? Because they have a an entitlement mentality, too lazy to get a job. So it’s not that they manage money poorly…because they don’t have any money to manage in the first place. The people that may actually NEED section 8, that need doesn’t necessarily amount to not being able to manage money. I’m on Section 8 because I’m disabled, and I manage my money just fine. In fact not only is my rent paid up one month in advance, but all my utilities have a negative balance equal to 1 months payment for that utility. So yea…just because someone receives gov’t assistance for housing that doesn’t mean that they are bad with money management.

        1. Thank you for reading!

          Great points. Section 8 is just a program. There are many great people on it, but they are hard to come by. While meeting a landlord is a great way to get accepted, landlords have to apply the same criteria to everyone. A small landlord with only one property may be able to flex the schedule once in a while, but when you have several, it’s harder to do. I have a tendency to be firm on my criteria.

          If the Section 8 program also covered 100% of tenant damages, it would be a much better program.

          1. Where’s the accountability if section 8 were to pay for all damages? I see the appeal to a landlord, but I’ve seen the kinda damage people do here in public housing and quite honestly I’d be afraid to see what type of damage people would do if they knew that they weren’t accountable for any damages. Last year the duplex directly across from me (3 bedroom duplex) got completely destroyed…7-8k dollars worth of damages. The swat team was on my back porch that night. Not my type of lifestyle that’s for sure. Section 8 here in Central Florida tells everyone they hand a voucher to, to look for housing in low poverty neighborhoods. Well…a low poverty neighborhood is all good, as long as I don’t have neighbor’s like I have now! In my search for housing, as a tenant, one of my criteria was actually a landlord that had a high security deposit, esp. if I was looking at apartment complexes because anyone can cover a 500 dollar security deposit, the county will give you up to $500 towards it if you apply for it. I’ve heard from landlords in areas where they can’t refuse a tenant solely because of section 8 and many say that a way around it is to charge a high security deposit that most section 8 tenants wouldn’t be able to come up with, 1k, 2k + dollar security deposits etc. Well only time will tell but I hope my due diligence pays off.

            Anyways…I completely understand where you’re coming from and you’re point of view, and I don’t blame you one bit. Honestly I give you a lot of credit for even considering section 8 tenants, esp. with all that I’ve seen here in public housing. All the stories I thought that “had” to be exagerated were found to be all too true, and quite frankly, its a bit scary.

          2. You are right. With no accountability, there is an issue. That is even the case of violent behaviors in society. People get arrested for very violent crimes and serve only a few months. Probation violation are dealt with as “please do not do it again”.

            There is a huge entitlement mentality here in the USA. It needs to be fixed.

          3. In theory, (well according to policy) people who cause excessive damages (including other misc serious violations) to an apartment, or house, are “supposed” to be permanently kicked out of the section 8 program. From what I’ve been reading there appears to be many housing authorities that aren’t strict, and enforcing this policy. Unfortunately most any housing authority will tell you that they are under staffed, under funded, and basically don’t care. HUD may over see individual housing authorities, but maybe someone needs to over see HUD. (That will never happen) At one point in time I heard something about drug testing section 8 applicants in which you had to pass to get in the program. A lot of people complained, but I wonder how many of the complaints were actually from drug-free individuals? What’s your opinion on having to pass a drug test to get into the section 8 program?

        2. The tenants that I’m trying to get out of my unit right now had a decent credit score but had other issues that I would ordinarily reject an application for, but this tenant explained their way out of every issue I found wrong, with great sincerity, I might add. Now while dealing with this eviction, I have found that they are habitual liars and they do and say what they have to to get what they want even if it means lying to a Judge under oath. People like that have made fellow landlords that I know, sell their properties and cut their financial and mental anguish losses because they found that dealing with tenants is not worth all the aggravation.

          1. Thank you for reading!

            You are correct, a tenant will say anything to get into a rental and out of paying rent or an eviction. Solid tenants have a solid background. There are still some circumstances where good tenants go bad, but more cases where bad tenants go bad. Keep you criteria, and do not budge.

            Even Ted Bundy was able to present a decent image, and he turned out to be a bad deal.

          1. You are right, there are definitely some great section 8 tenants, however you need to be able to screen tenants in the first place. If you do not understand landlording basics, Section 8 will generally be a bad things.

  18. This is (by far) the only article I can find on Section 8 housing that isn’t just “How to get section 8”. I’m semi-new to being a tenant to Apartments, I have previously rented houses before hand, just because I enjoy not being around so many people at once. I just want to know if it’s even worth it to be residing in a place that allows section 8, as I’ve heard plenty of horror stories and where I live more often than not, the accommodations for the apartments are way below sub-par if they so allow section 8. Would it hurt to give it a try? Or should I spend the extra money to live in a place that doesn’t accept it? Not saying money is an issue, I just like to SAVE, ya know?

    1. Thank you for reading!

      I would advise anyone who is considering living in an apartment to find a place that you barely meet the entrance hurdle. That way, you know everyone else is better than you are. Do not worry about Section 8 or not, but odds are, the entry hurdle for a section 8 apartment is very low. With a low entry hurdle, the people will have friends and family that do not meet that low hurdle and will be around.

      You can also look to the number of police calls at that apartment. Odds are, a high section 8 density will have a lot of calls. And higher maintenance, so the place might not be kept up as much.

      Of course, if you want to save money, it may be the place.

      1. As a tenant with solid credit and solid income, Section 8 is one of my top criteria for landlords…

        As in, I ask landlords if they accept Section 8 and refuse to consider those that do, because I immediately assume (rightly or wrongly) that any property that takes Section 8 is more likely to be poorly maintained, have problems with noise and crime, etc etc. Simply put, as an “A quality” tenant, I am willing to pay a little more if needed to avoid living around “C” and “D” quality tenants, which are more commonamong those who use Section 8 vouchers.

        For the same reason, I ask landlords about how many tenants have kids, about the location of the nearest playground, look for kids’ toys around, etc. Landlords may not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of children, but as someone who neither has nor likes children, I am allowed to, and i will.

          1. I find myself now looking into finding an apartment; separating from my husband after 22 years of marriage. I can’t afford the mortgage payment, so I’m looking to move. That is the FIRST question I’ve asked too. If they rent to Section 8 or any sort of means-tested, I say thanks for your time and hang up. I don’t care if it’s wrong. I have a 10-year-old son to raise, and I do pay my bills and maintain good credit and want those I share living space with to have similar values. Not to say there aren’t great “poor people” (that’s really what we’re saying, without the sugar-coating) or awful people with money. But statistically, it is the poorer tenants who are going to cause the most drama.

          2. Thank you for reading!

            That is great advice. Make sure you know the quality of your neighbors, and buy what you can afford. That is exactly what homeowners do. They only buy homes in the best neighborhoods they can afford.

          3. The concept of what we can “afford” is an interesting one to me. I’m in my late 40’s and have worked all my life, so advanced to a point where I earn a decent salary. I laugh when banks tell me what I can “afford”. Or when the property managers who are currently showing me apartments tell me that the rent is fine because it’s well under 30% of my income. Yes, it is: 30% of my GROSS income, and also before I subtract out expenses that won’t show on my credit report, like utilities and groceries, etc. I wonder sometimes if people get into trouble because they listen to the experts tell them what they can afford, rather than questioning what their own lifestyle issues may be. I like to spend money on things that others would find very foolish: A foamy, $6 latte every morning, convenient food I don’t have to prepare, etc. I agree with you that tenants should find the best they can afford. I just think we all need to be more realistic with ourselves as to what that is. Paying rent that is nearly half of my take-home pay, after I’ve subtracted out the fixed expenses, is not even close to the realm of affordability. No matter what a landlord or a banker might tell me.

          4. The problem becomes when a person thinks they can afford it, and the bank says no. In my case, I make sure the people do not pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Some landlord allow a tenant to pay 50% of their income.

            I had one single mom that was making ~8.50 an hour at McDonald’s, plus ~$500 a month in child support, trying to pay $995 in rent each month. She borrowed the deposit money from her employer, so they had it paid back each week from her paycheck. She was in way over her head. She lasted about 18 months, and was eventually moved out.

            It was a mistake on my part.

          5. This is an interesting topic to me because I find myself looking for a short-term apartment rental for the first time in over 20 years, and because I manage the program at work that provides emergency assistance to people needing help with damage deposits, past due rent, utilities. Our policy defines affordability as “income equal to or greater than rent.” We know, of course, that this is wildly unpractical … but we make our policy decisions based not on economic viability but, in part, on what costs less tax-payer dollars (preserving housing and a voucher, even at thousands of dollars in cost … is still far, far less expensive than sheltering a family in our system) and on economic reality. Most people utilizing our services do not have the kind of income that would afford them even a slumlord’s cheapest rental, not in the metro area. I find myself approving things that I know aren’t going to be even slightly affordable for the client, and I wonder, why the landlord isn’t alarmed? Why so many of them WILL rent to a tenant who has had a UD filed, or several, AND verified income of $437/mo cash assistance plus maybe a part-time job at a big box store for another $400-500/mo … and the apartment rent is $800. I am struggling with signing a lease for an apartment I really like; it’s $1100/mo and my net take home is about 4x that. But with other bills, including those related to housing (utilities, cable, WIFI, water/sewage, etc) as well as other normal bills like student loans and car payments … it truly seems completely unaffordable to me. Groceries, gas, clothes and school supplies and other items necessary for a 10-year-old child … I sincerely believe I’ll be taking on more than I can comfortably manage. Which leads me back to wondering how realistic this 30% of gross income really is for affordability.

            I do have a question: Do you ever negotiate with tenants that you feel may be good ones (i.e., good income, excellent credit)? I haven’t asked, because I’m looking for a 6-month lease and have no illusions that my tenancy would be any “favor” to a landlord, particularly such a short time. But it’s wintertime in Minnesota. Am I correct in assuming, this is the worst time for occupancy? At my job, it is the absolute slowest time of the year right now … nobody wants to move, and everyone is protected by cold weather rule (so they aren’t applying for utility help either).

          6. Will a Landlord negotiate rent? The answer is “maybe” and depends on other factors besides just being a good tenant. If the landlord believes that he or she can easily get a good tenant at the listed price, your chances of negotiating the rent will be low.

            Regarding your question about affordability and 30% of a person’s net income, 30 percent is typically just a starting point. Affordability is going to vary between tenants. Ultimately it comes down to what your personal idea of comfortable is. Some people are comfortable buying store brand food or clothes, while others are not. Some people aren’t comfortable if they can’t afford to eat out 5-6 times a week and go to the movies every weekend, while others are ok eating out only once or twice a month. 30 percent is just a guideline and its ultimately up to you to decide what kind of lifestyle your comfortable with.

            Just my 2 cents.

          7. Thank you for reading! You are 100% correct. A renter should pay NO MORE than 30% of their income in rent. I prefer a tenant to make 6x the rent, which is a standard average income for my area. Two people making minimum wage will struggle to pay rent, even though they make 3x the rent.

            Income is one thing, financial responsibility is another.

          8. Thank you for reading!

            I have negotiated rent in the past. Or pet fees, or application fees. You would need to be a solid renter, and have some benefit for me. A faster move in, or great 740+ credit score.

          9. I did look at 4 places; 2 of those companies were willing to negotiate (one offered free garage with no reduction in rent, the other offered one month free rent, but no reduction thereafter). The other 2 would not negotiate at all. I was frankly surprised that anyone negotiated at all — I know now isn’t a great time for people to be moving, but a 6 month lease isn’t going to make or break for anyone. I thought for sure the short-term tenancy would be a deal breaker in terms of negotiating. I did end up signing a lease on an apartment that is more within what I feel I can afford, and I believe I got a pretty good deal, even though this particular landlord wouldn’t negotiate at all. $895/mo for a 2 bedroom, in a very nicely kept but older building tucked into a residential neighborhood. Doesn’t rent to Section 8 tenants, and has secured entrances. I wasn’t at all choosy about size of the apartment or how updated things were, so long as it was clean and well kept; I’m only going to be there for 6 months. Thanks for the input 🙂

    2. Hi Delissa,

      I am a section 8 tenant myself. Here are a few suggestions that might help you decide which way to go. As previously mentioned, check the crime rate for a specific apartment, as well as the general surrounding area. Even if you don’t have children, go to GreatSchools.org and check the quality of the schools in the area. You’ll also be able to pull up statistics such as diversity, what percentage of children are receiving free or reduced meals, etc. This can help give you an idea about the type of neighborhood. Keep in mind that the nicer neighborhoods that do accept section 8, typically have longer waiting lists. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on your situation. You can always use your voucher wherever your already renting from if your landlord will accept section 8. It doesn’t need to be at an apartment either. Good Luck.

  19. Getting involved with Section 8 is the BIGGEST mistake a landlord can make.

    Every year HUD complicates their contracts with more and more regulations, rules and inspections, but the most important thing to know is that they can fine you BIG TIME in fact they can put a lien on your property and take it if you don’t do what they say. When you sign the contract to take part in Section 8 you sign away almost all of your rights as a private property owner, you become a kicking post for HUD, they can change the rules, amend the contract, reduce the amount they pay you at any time WITHOUT NOTICE.

    It it also almost impossible to get rid of bad tenants with Section 8 and most of them are bad. Same behaviors as the story above, no respect for the property, dirty, don’t follow rules, they have people living there that should not be, many times male relatives with criminal records. In this current rental market there is no reason to be in this program even if you have low income rental properties.

    You can rent for top dollar and not take vouchers. Utilizing word of mouth and looking for working responsible renters through church or civic organizations can save you thousands and tons of headaches. Plus if Trump wins the election, HUD is going to be de-funded to the bone so don’t let yourself be caught with a bunch of renters who can’t pay rent, when HUD stops paying you.

    1. Thank you for reading! That is a great explanation of renting to someone with a HUD lease.

      There is a LOT of risk with Section 8 tenants. The risk of a bad tenant can be controlled with a lease, but not if you have a HUD lease. Background checks, and knowing how to screen tenants goes a long way. HUD is in the business of providing housing, not helping landlords provide it or make money.

  20. Just cuz ppl have sec 8 don’t make them bad renters lol some ppl are just trashy and gross has nothing to do with who pays your rent ? seriously stop it

    1. You are correct, however from a landlord’s perspective Section 8 tenants are high risk. That is why I advocate using credit score to differentiate the low quality renters from higher quality renters. There is no reason a Section 8 renter cannot have a 800+ credit score. If they have a solid credit score, it shows that they know how to live in a civilized society. If not, pass on them, regardless if they are Section 8 or not.

  21. What about drug testing applicants? I would first do a cheap $15 spit swab test that tests for various drugs and then if they passed follow up with a hair folical test.

    I would verify income and do a backround as well.

  22. I inherited some money and was thinking of getting rental properties. I was checking into Section 8 for the guaranteed rent payment by Uncle Sam. I am aware there are crappy tenants, however, I think I would get something with no more than two bedrooms to eliminate the bratty kid factor and maybe remodel the place to be handicapped accessible in order to attract tenants with that need, going so far as to contacting the local VA for disabled veterans in need of housing.

    If not, I probably will just flip the property…

    For the record I was a single mom of two sons who qualified for rent assistance a couple of years.

  23. I don’t have a reply I m actually looking for help I have a tenant in Bridgeport Ct and I have had nothing but hell from day one from paying rent when ever she feels like it to illegally having her boyfriend live there to contacting section 8 to have the house inspected after she was told I was not renewing her lease and after I do repairs to fix a broken window lock or a shaking stair rail that has been replaced two times in one year she points out new things to the inspector that causes me to fail which means no rent payments from section 8 and she pays her 100 out of 1600 rent total I know her and her family disturb the neighbors and I have no idea on how to deal with people like this please help

    1. Thank you for reading!

      I would get rid of her at the next lease renewal. Any repairs you make that are beyond normal wear and tear, charge her and give her 10 days to pay. If not paid, use the rent to cover the damages and evict for non-payment.

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