I'm getting ready to rent a duplex to a Section 8 tenant and I have 2 prospective tenants. They both have vouchers and I wanted to ask them what portion of the rent they are responsible for.
The rent is $1,800 and in the past my tenants have been responsible for anywhere from $450/month to zero. I want to pick the tenant who has the highest amount paid for by the government. Is it legal to ask them how much of the monthly rent they pay on their own?
Thanks for any insight!
I'm not sure if it's legal or not to ask the tenant how much the tenant covers. However, wouldn't that be up to the Section 8 program? Typically they don't allow the tenant to pay more than 1/3 of their income to the rent. So if you're looking for 100% government subsidy, then it would make sense to pick someone who has no "real" job.
Thanks for the good idea on picking the tenant with the lowest income to maximize the portion of rent from Sec. 8. Both of them have vouchers in hand and I will probably refrain from asking them what their current portion of rent is for their current apartment.
On a separate note, has anyone ever run a credit check on a tenant and had the report come back as unavailable because file was too thin? I used mysmartmove to run the credit check and on one of the applicants it said it was unavailable because the file was too thin. The prospective renter is in her late 50s so I wasn't quite sure what to make of it other than maybe she's never had a bank account or credit card.
@William Price I actually just had such an occurrence with one of my HUD-VASH clients. He has lived on his Social Security income for the last 20+ years and has avoided credit entirely over that time, not wanting to accumulate debt he couldn't cover on a low income. Unfortunately, the responsible actions of careful budgeting and of only spending what you have is biting him now as many property managers won't rent to him. Ironic, huh? Now, not everyone that has no credit has the skills to be a good financial manager for themselves, they may have had no income for most/all of their life, but I see it much more often as a plus rather than a minus.
As for rent portion, @Dawn A. is spot on. I always tell people that explicitly stating you are going to chose someone based on a higher subsidy is playing with (discriminatory) fire. Unless their income is VERY low, estimating that they'll be responsible for paying you about 33% of their income is a good rough estimate. Depending on the size of the unit and local utility rates, $100-$200/mo of tenant income is usually the cutoff point for having a tenant portion of rent or not.
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