I’m kicking one of my tenants out of my house at the end of the month, but that’s a whole different story. I’ve already listed the house for rent to get the ball moving. After listing the house, I have received emails, texts, and phone calls from just about everyone in the ZIP code as well as a few of their distant cousins the next town over. I mean a lot of people.
One person sticks out more than others. She called as I was busy making the usual 3 hour drive into Pennsylvania. She loved, loved, loved the photos of the house and thought that it would be perfect for her and her daughter…but was I accepting Section 8 tenants? Reluctant to rent to Section 8 participants (send me hate mail after reading), I told her that the house was not child proof as the windows did not have safety bars on the second floor. Not to worry, she said. Her daughter was 21. Crap! What excuse to use next?
My second line of defense was to tell her that I planned on having the home rented for the beginning of August, so I could not wait for Section 8 approval. No problem, she said. Since she had been receiving benefits FOR 20 YEARS she was already approved.
I looked over at my brother in the passenger seat and mouthed “Twenty years?” He nodded. With no excuses left I told her that I would call her when I set a date for an open house.
After hanging up with her my brother and I began a discussion on government programs. Here I am, working my assets off at a job that gives me reflux, working my knuckles to the bone fixing up homes to have additional income, religiously paying my taxes and there she was, collecting benefits since the year I started working at age 14.
Frankly, that woman pissed me off. I felt as if every penny in taxes that I had ever paid went right to her rent. My brother’s perspective was that the government essentially paid for at least two houses in the time that they had been covering her rent.
I have nothing against people getting government assistance, but having seen a number of individuals wanting to rent my home getting some form of assistance who are just scamming the system, I am changing my mind about some of these programs. If the government can and will pay your rent for decades, what incentive do you have to actually change your circumstances? Why should you get up, get out and get a job if you can sit home for 20 years and have your rent paid?
I have to be fair here because there are plenty of people in need of assistance, but I feel that it should be temporary, and not decades long unless there are mitigating circumstances such as individuals with severe disabilities who cannot care for themselves. I also find it very hard to say that we should take things like SNAP (food stamp) assistance away from people because we have seen people resorting to stealing food just to feed their families, and frankly, I can’t blame them. One potential tenant worked at Taco Bell just so he would have enough food to eat. No vacancy for him.
I have a bit of the same problem with unemployment benefits now lasting a full two years. The economy is in the toilet. I know that. But, if you can get unemployment for years, why search for a job? Those of us making more than the maximum unemployment benefit might miss the income and go looking, but what if the amount that you receive from unemployment is exactly the same as you would have received while working? I’ve seen this with potential tenants who are “working off the books” while collecting unemployment, or doing so to avoid paying child support. I’ve wanted to kick people out of my house for spouting such non-sense. No vacancy for them either.
I wish there was an easy way to tell when people were scamming the system or getting benefits to which they are not entitled. Whether you like it or not, each of us pays in some way when someone does this. My way of fighting back is to say, “Sorry, there is another applicant who is a better fit.”