roofMy blog last week on “Housing Wanted, Craigslist Addition” has inspired some topics that I hadn’t much thought about like my recent blog on letting tenants grow medical marijuana, or not. Today I’m going to discuss the need for housing for people who don’t meet property management or most landlords screening criteria. I came across two primary ways that the folks posting on Craigslist did not meet screening criteria; the first was that they did not make enough money to afford renting the property and wanted to provide labor in lieu of rent, the second were people who did not meet the criteria because they had really bad credit, foreclosure, and a criminal record.

 1. Labor in Lieu of Rent

There were a number of people posting in the housing wanted section of Craigslist who were hoping to provide labor to work off at least a portion of the rent. Services provided included; cooking, cleaning, child care, yard maintenance and handy man work, and construction work in one case. In some of the scenarios people were wanting to rent a room in a house and other scenarios they were wanting to rent a home and work off part of the rent with labor.
This scenario could potentially work out but it requires a significant amount of guidance and managing that is above and beyond the regular tenant/landlord relationship. I would personally be very reluctant in getting myself into that situation again. In my blog “Are you ready to be a landlord, I wasn’t” I describe a situation that I was in, in which I decided to reduce the rent to allow the renters to make improvements to the property, let me just say, it didn’t end well. If this is a route that someone chooses to go I would advise that a written agreement be made and signed by each party that outlines what is expected and allows for a quick termination if the work is not being completed. As always check with a lawyer to make sure you are not breaking any tenant/landlord laws.
2. Bad Track Record
Several people posted that they were unable to get into a home because of their poor credit or criminal history.  I can understand how a few poor decisions or unfortunate circumstances can haunt an otherwise good and responsible person for quite some time. I think that in any landlords screening criteria there should be a time frame where some things are just left in the persons past and not considered in the screening process. It’s very important to take a hard look at a prospective tenants credit report and criminal record and maybe get a brief explanation as to what was happening at that time and how their situation is different now.  I know that most property managers, landlords and even lenders are looking past a foreclosure because they were so common the last few years. Many people were simply choosing to walk away from their mortgage responsibilities which isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially for the banks, but it may not impact a prospects ability to pay rent on time which is really what we are wanting from our tenants in the end.
December 3rd is National Roof Over Your Head Day. I know that December 3rd has come and went but it’s important to be thankful everyday. It’s easy to take for granted the fact that we have shelter, and that we can choose to be indoors under a roof in a climate controlled home to avoid wet, cold, hot or otherwise unpleasant conditions. Roof Over Your Head Day brings attention to those who are not as blessed, and reminds us to be appreciative for all of the little luxuries we enjoy and show some compassion for those in need.