How to vet prospects with several foster kids -

4 Replies

Got a call from a prospect with a full time job & several foster kids for whom he has guardianship. 

Without the (substantial) payments he receives for each child, he wouldn't qualify under our income criteria.  However, the amount he receives should more than cover the children's expenses. 

I would guess they might be long-term tenants given that it's hard to find suitable SF housing.

Would you consider this prospect?  What else to consider?

According to the Fair Housing Act: FAMILIAL STATUS AS A PROTECTED CLASS Federal and state laws forbid discrimination in housing transactions because of "familial status." ... "Familial status" means having a child under age 18 in the household, whether living with a parent, a legal custodian, or their designee.

I'm not sure if you have to abide by the FHA (it depends on several factors including the number of rentals you have). But in general I would be wary of ruling out a potential renter due to something related to the presence of children in the home. I understand you are talking about the income requirement but just be aware that this can cross over into the Fair Housing Act arena.

Another data point,  a foster parent in order to become licensed has to fill out paperwork showing that they can budget/afford their household without relying on the foster payments to afford basic shelter/food for their household.  Also, the agency has to inspect and approve the foster housing.  The license is given for a particular adult(s) and residence.  There may be a foster payment gap due to the move.

I'd look at their current living residence.  I have adopted 2 kids from US foster care, each 10 years old and have had several foster kids from a variety of states.  Some are very hard on houses.  So, you may want to see how well they behave, or expect holes in the walls and doors hanging off cupboards and door frames.  

And this is NOT to discriminate against kids, its to see if the parenting is adequate to protect your asset!  Some of the kids I had could destroy anything, but as the parent, it was my job to intervene before the kids got angry, and to do repairs when needed for the destruction.

I also think it is reasonable to determine the security of the income.  Just like if someone wanted to rent and was the first week on a new job, I may ask if the job is permanent, full time, seasonal, etc. to determine if the reported income is likely to continue.  

I would want to determine if the subsidy for the children is expected to continue.  Is the guardianship permanent?  If it is not permanent, how long is it expected to last for each kid?  e.g. until 18 years old, until mom gets out of rehab and gets a house, until dad gets out of prison, until grandma gets out of the hospital?  You don't want to get into their business, but that is the type of information you may be looking at.  And if the kids may be leaving soon, your tenant may be like someone with a seasonal income, broke until the next batch of kids come.

The other thing to look at with subsidies for kids is did the agency (generally a county) provide a break down for that money.  Some Counties have a pretty detailed breakdown on how the money is to be used such as $4.98 each day for clothing, $5.67 for food, $3.89 for housing, etc.  Others just pass on money without a breakdown.  IF they have a high subsidy, much of it may be directed towards child care and medical expenses.  Personally I would exclude any amount that is directed to non-housing expenses.

Lastly, they likely have 'safety' requirements that may result in changes to your home.  Soaps need to be locked up in most states.  Do you want keyed access to any kitchen cupboards?  Do you want baby locks drilled into your cupboards?  Safety locks on all outlets, etc.  Discuss what the requirements are and who will pay for them.

Lynnette E. Thank you.  You provided some useful tips.

Should I ask for the paperwork from the county agency that shows the breakdown of payments?

I was told the guardianship is permanent, and there is a person from the county that does respite care also.