I 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.
I 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.
She 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?