Although the Section 8 program offers some great advantages, including guaranteed rent payments from the government and free advertising, many landlords have good reason to be cautious about tenants applying under this provision. Because Section 8 housing is designed for people who can't otherwise pay full rent, many landlords think these low income tenants can also bring unwanted behavior, like drug use and other criminal activity, into their rental communities. While some Section 8 renters may have addiction or other social problems, most are hardworking individuals or families, many with children to feed, who only want a safe home. Here are some tips to help you find quality Section 8 tenants that may turn out to be the best renters you have ever had.
A nationwide search engine that allows those with Section 8 vouchers to search and find properties, GoSection8.com is also a powerful tool for landlords who want to make sure their tenants are the highest quality possible. While the website does have a free listing service that allows you to publicly list your available properties and get calls from potential renters, the premium version of the service also allows you to pre-screen applicants by viewing personal information about them in their online profile. Much like a dating service, GoSection8.com uses an internal compatibility matching service to connect landlords with tenants who have appropriate qualities. This allows you to really cherry-pick future clients, and even set different criteria for different properties to ensure the right match.
Advertise in Neighborhood Community Centers
Although the HUD Housing Authority will list your properties free of charge as soon as you inform them you have a Section 8 vacancy, you can also advertise on your own. If you're renting in a major metropolitan area, one of the best ways you can hand pick your Section 8 tenants is to post the vacancy only in your neighborhood or adjacent sections. This makes sure that the renters are already in the area and are not going to be moving from across town. People with existing connections in the community are usually much better renters than those who are brand new and don't know anyone.
Post your advertisements in community centers, neighborhood cafes, and cultural centers like dance studios, art galleries, barber shops, and bookstores. Those that frequent local community businesses are the kinds of tenants that already know the area and are likely to have friends, family, or other roots in the area. If you find a tenant by advertising through community centers, especially if it's a center or organization where you participate, you will have something in common and potentially forge a bond with the prospective renter.
Because high-quality tenants tend to have higher retention rates, you should check out our blog post on how to find and keep good renters. Remember, the true key to having a good tenant-landlord relationship is to screen well and then be a good property owner, so there's a mutual level of respect at all times. For more information about Section 8 housing — and how it can actually be the best way to get high occupancy rates and quality renters — read our article on the pros and cons of Section 8.
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