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No Vacancy For You

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.

PAUSE. What?!

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.”

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24 thoughts on “No Vacancy For You

  • I would write my local congress and Senate representatives outlining exactly what you described. I agree in helping people, but twenty years is out of control and is gaming the system.

  • I completely agree – yeah it’s hard to find a job, but I’ve worked two jobs in retail at the same time, my bf currently works a “real” job and a retail job nights, all so that we can try to pay down debts and get ahead.
    Unless there is a disability involved, I cannot have sympathy for people who suck up my tax dollars year after year.

    For our rental unit, we required proof of employment or student status with proof of income. It worked out well and I simply didn’t respond to requests from people who were not willing/able to provide this information.

  • Wow, 20 YEARS on government assistance!

    All you have to do is…

    But that’s up to you.

    Rent to her, and it’ll be like getting free money from the gov’t! lol

    What is her credit score?

    S

    • Oh yeah, it’s not the rent that bothers me, it’s the SCAMMING! Taking a Section 8 person would be easy. I just have issues with the amount of care they take with your home since they don’t have to work to pay the bills.

  • I had some Section 8 tenants when I owned apartment buildings. They were no better nor worse than anyone else. Everything changed when I rented (3 years) out my home. When there is one tenant, I want more safeguards and I definitely was concerned about damage to the property too.

  • I agree with you that it’s ridiculous that the person has been on government assistance for 20 years.

    Regarding unemployment, I disagree with you. It is something that we pay for each paycheck as a separate line item and my understanding was that once what you have paid into it runs out, that 2 yr requirement does not work. What you receive each month is different based on how much is in your reserve.

    • Hi! Unemployment doesn’t work based on how much you’ve paid in. It’s an insurance, so if you pay unemployment insurance (or your employer does on your behalf) what’s been paid in does not match what you get out. We pay pennies on the dollar of the benefit amount. As long as you’ve worked the required period preceding your unemployment period and as long as you meet the criteria (no fault of your own, etc.) then you qualify for up to 99 weeks!

      • Thanks Sandy for the information. I never had to deal with collecting unemployment before so I wasn’t fully aware of the details.

        Even knowing the details now, I am much more accepting of unemployment than something like Section 8, partially because they do have requirements (could not be fired due to misconduct/poor performance, need to show you are actively looking for a job, etc). I am sad whenever I read articles that mention folks in their mid/late 50s unable to get a job due to their age and overqualification. I might be a minority in this stance, though.

        • Oh, I’m okay with unemployment. I just can’t rent to you because obviously, your job situation isn’t stable. I have problems with people on unemployment also “working off the books” or people “working off the books” just to avoid paying child support. I’ve seen BOTH potential tenants.

  • Yeah I’d feel the same way! 20 yrs is basicly her daughters lifetime!
    These government programs are meant to be safety nets, not free for all. You’re right there is literally no incentive to do otherwise.
    It drives those of us that work for everything we have fairly completely nuts. My sister was a grocery store check out clerk while in college and she’d tell me stories of women who come in with food stamps and be dressed very nicely with hair and nails done. Theyd whip out their coach handbag to hand her the WIC card. Their carts were full of non essentials and non staple items. Frustrating.

  • I know some people that rely on the government and I agree that they have no incentive to get off of the programs they are on. If they took a job they’d have to work for just a little bit more money and they’d have to follow a schedule and pay money for work related costs etc.

  • I agree that it would be nice to know if people actually need the money. A lot of people do scam the system. Welfare checks can buy alcohol and Playstation games as well as any other check can, and I have seen people do just that. Then I know others who find themselves in desperate circumstances and need some help for a while to get back on their feet.

  • Hmm…I know someone who was on Section 8 for a long time. She had two daughters.

    On one hand, she was a really good, hard worker. A technician for my company. And she had a part time job in retail working nights. Of course, the amount of Section 8 money she got was directly related to her income. So when she got the 2nd job, she lost part of the money. (Not all of it.) It’s sort of a disincentive, but she still did it.

    She tried for years to get into low-income purchased housing (we have that here in California). You know, builders make 30 condos and 4 of them are low income. There are income requirements (can’t make more than X), and sales requirements (there is a small limit on the increases, they must be sold through the county to another low income person, for 45 years). But there were always 500 applicants for 4 condos.

    On the flip side, we all know her boyfriend was living with her and working off the books. She eventually got a better paying job and bought a condo, but her 23 year old daughter got to “keep” her Sect 8 apartment.

  • I am going to be the Devil’s advocate here. It is POSSIBLE that there is a good reason that she has been on benefits for twenty years. I know two people in my circle of friends (one being my husband) who have been getting benefits for 20+ years. Both of them are in their early 50’s. My husband has minor brain damage from a person who hit him on the head with a lead pipe. He is unable to hold down a “normal” job because of short term memory problems. The other person I know is in a wheelchair since his back was broken when he was 12 years old by a drunk who ran his vehicle into their camper while he was asleep. He has learned woodworking skills but he is unable to afford health insurance on his own due to all of the medical problems involved with his being paralyzed.

    My point is, you don’t know why this woman has been on assistance for 20 years but if you are uncomfortable with it, you don’t have to rent to her.

    • Absolutely, she could be one of the individuals that I mention with mitigating circumstances. HER in particular that is. But, the vast majority of people who I have seen are scamming the system. They’re the people saying “My BF/Husband can’t be on the lease because I told the government that he split so that we can get benefits” and the like. That’s the majority of people that I run into. Since it’s hard for me to weed out the legitimate people in need than those gaming the system, I have to pass on all.

    • After my husband was hit by an uninsured drunk driver and nearly died but because of head injuries was left disabled. We downsized like crazy, sold property, used the savings to pay the bills this drunk created. If someone saw my husband sitting somewhere they would see a ‘normal’ person. Until they tried to talk to him and then it was akin to someone with Alzheimer’s. He had so many injuries and after 14 years as his caregiver he died.

      As a younger widow I remembering thinking it would be nice to get section 8 because his medical bills that the insurance didn’t pay were my responsibility and I was getting no help at all. My heart aches for worthy folks who thru NO fault of their own are left in tight financial straights. Thank the Lord I have been able to work hard on the bills from the past, which are almost all paid.

      Have also encountered folks who said until they had it happen to them they had NO idea how bad it could get. Including a young woman age 32 who bought a home, in 2003 then a rental property in 2005 and then got cancer in 2008, was laid off in the financial crisis in 2009 and lost everything this past year. And she was a responsible person. But being laid off having cancer with no medical coverage once laid off, and two homes to pay on, she hit a brick wall.

  • Maybe you can meet with her and see why she has been on section 8 for 20 years? Maybe she’s in a wheel chair or something like that. I don’t like people who are scamming the system either. The government need to do a better job of screening these people out and maybe make them pay some penalty.

  • Why don’t you just tell people on Section 8 that you do not accept Section 8 tenants? It’s as easy as that!

    Then, when they bitch and moan that it’s guaranteed money, tell them you are not paying them to live in your own house!

    • I do! My ad specifically says that I do not accept programs but somehow they think that the prospect of government money will change my mind.

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