At Falkenberg/Gilliam & Associates, Inc. (FGA), we understand the unique challenges that come with being an affordable housing property management firm. One of the most common challenges faced by property managers, especially in the realm of Section 8 housing, is interacting with difficult residents.
There are several strategies and best practices that can help in navigating challenging tenant situations effectively, with all efforts to avoid eviction.
Understand the Common Issues
Before diving into solutions, it’s essential to recognize the various situations or interactions that landlords go through when renting to Section 8 tenants:
Frequent Yearly Inspections: HUD requires annual property inspections to ensure compliance with health and safety standards.
Rental Price Limitations: The Section 8 program has set limits on what you can charge your tenants, often based on the Fair Market Rent.
Potential Payment Delays: Sometimes, there might be administrative delays in receiving the first rental payment from the housing authority.
Potential for Difficult Tenants: Some Section 8 tenants might have challenges meeting property maintenance standards or paying their subsidized rent.
Longer Eviction Process: Evicting a Section 8 tenant can be more time-consuming due to additional documentation and potential requirements from the housing authority.
Increased Wear & Tear: Some properties might experience more wear and tear, although this isn’t unique to Section 8 tenants.
Open and regular communication can prevent conflicts between affordable housing property managers and tenants. Ensure that you clearly communicate all property rules and expectations from the start. Regular check-ins can also help identify and address potential problems early on.
Clarity from the Start: Ensure all lease terms, property rules, and expectations are clearly outlined and understood by the tenant.
Open Door Policy: Encourage tenants to approach you with concerns or questions, fostering a transparent landlord-tenant relationship.
Thorough Tenant Screening
While it’s essential to adhere to fair housing laws, a comprehensive screening process can help identify potential red flags. This includes checking references, rental history, and ensuring they meet the requirements for Section 8 housing.
Due Diligence: Beyond basic checks, delve into potential tenants’ rental histories and speak to previous landlords when possible.
Fairness is Paramount: Always adhere to fair housing laws, ensuring that your screening process is consistent and non-discriminatory.
Promptly Address Concerns
If a tenant is violating the lease or causing other issues, address it immediately. Quick intervention can prevent minor problems from escalating.
Active Monitoring: Regular property inspections can help identify issues before they escalate.
Constructive Feedback: When addressing concerns, provide feedback that’s solution-oriented, helping tenants understand how to rectify the situation.
Offer Support and Resources
Sometimes, tenants might be facing personal or financial challenges. By providing resources or connecting them with local support services, you can help them navigate these challenges more effectively.
Empathy in Action: Recognize that some tenants might be facing challenges outside of their control and approach such situations with understanding.
Local Partnerships: Collaborate with local agencies or nonprofits that offer support services, making it easier to refer tenants when needed.
If conflicts arise, consider mediation as a way to resolve issues. A neutral third party can help facilitate a conversation and find a solution that works for both parties.
Neutral Ground: A mediator can provide an unbiased perspective, helping both parties see the situation more clearly.
Conflict Resolution: Mediation focuses on finding a mutually agreeable solution, often preventing the need for legal action.
Know the Eviction Process
While eviction should be a last resort, it’s essential to understand the process, especially for Section 8 tenants. This includes sending copies of documentation to the local housing authority and potentially seeking their permission before filing an eviction lawsuit.
Documentation is Crucial: Always keep detailed records of any tenant violations or issues, as these will be essential if eviction becomes necessary.
Legal Counsel: Consider consulting with a legal expert familiar with Section 8 housing to ensure you’re following the correct eviction procedures.
Navigate the Landscape of Affordable Housing with FGA
Being an affordable housing property management firm comes with its set of challenges, but with the right strategies and a proactive approach, many issues can come to a positive outcome effectively. At Falkenberg/Gilliam & Associates, Inc. (FGA), we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of the nuances of Section 8 housing and our commitment to providing a safe and comfortable living environment for all residents. Partner with us, and leverage our expertise to navigate the complexities of affordable housing property management.