Finding a rental that will take section 8 vouchers… it’s not easy.
First….Let me answer some questions: YES, I work with rentals. But, do I work with tenants with Section 8 Vouchers? Not usually. To be honest I don’t think it’s in the tenant’s best interest, but I do have some advice….
First: SECTION 8 LIST
Tommy Smith, a housing finance expert, professes that most housing offices maintain a list of landlords that have agreed to rent to people with vouchers. Ask for that list and call those landlords.
Second: RENTAL COMMUNITIES
Rental communities have a larger number of available homes and therefore, their policies are more flexible compared to private landlords. They often accept households with vouchers. In fact, any community with an “affordable housing” component likely has the requirement to permit persons with vouchers. These communities usually have much lower deposits than a private landlord (something Section 8 does not pay). And, if the tenant happens to also have some credit blemishes, that criteria is often more forgiving as well. Sometimes, the tenant may not find a “match”. Very often it is because of the rental rate and/or that rental communities have mostly smaller units – no larger than a 3 bedroom typically and sometimes not larger than a 2 bedroom.
Next Stop: PERSONAL SPHERE
It’s true, there are people out there that simply don’t want someone with a voucher. Overcoming that stigma is easiest if you have a personal connection. Talk to people at your office, your church, your clubs… maybe they have a rental or know of someone and can connect you personally.
Fourth: PRIVATE ADS
Before going to a REALTOR, I would look on Craigs List (watch for scams), and read local papers and bulletin boards. The reason is because hopefully you’ll have less competition…. hopefully these landlords won’t have 2 or 3 or more applicants to choose from. When there are less choices, your application looks more attractive to them (this is true no matter who you are).
Fifth: LISTING AGENTS
You might want to comb the internet – sites like REALTOR.com or in our area HomesDataBase.com will have MLS listings from REALTORS – you can call each one individually and ask if the owner will accept a voucher. There’s nothing convenient about this process, but honestly, you’ll probably be more diligent about doing this than most Tenant Agents will… and so you’ll do a better job. Plus, the listing agent makes a few more bucks when they rent the place directly, so they are most likely to encourage the landlord to consider your application seriously.
Last Resort: HIRE A TENANT’S AGENT
Why should this be a last resort. Here is the primary reason… Once you sign a Tenant Agency Agreement, you are promising to pay the agent when you find a place. So what if you hire that person, and agree that they will be paid, say, $500 for their help… and then your friend calls and says his brother’s place just opened up and they’d be glad to have you rent that house? Now, either the brother has to pay the agent or you do – from your pocket. What if you decide to settle for that apartment? If they don’t pay tenants agents, you have to.