Landlord Partnership84 Is Essential
- In scattered site supportive housing, landlords are often key in providing an adequate supply of affordable housing.85 Landlords choose whether to participate in government subsidized programs, such as the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Landlords may hesitate to participate particularly when the tenant is a formerly homeless individual with significant challenges related to MH, SUD or chronic conditions.
- Although there can be financial risk to landlords if tenants are unable to pay their share of the rent, there are also benefits to renting to this population. Frequent case worker visits, for example, can quickly resolve any issues a landlord may face, and the subsidy portion of the rent is guaranteed.
- Some localities run centralized landlord engagement programs designed to find and retain landlords who own affordable rental units and are willing to accept subsidies and serve this population. Program features can include:
- A centralized phone number for landlords to call if a unit is vacant or a tenant needs help;
- Dedicated staff to conduct outreach and build relationships with landlords;
- A neutral party to aid in disputes between tenants and landlords;
- Funds for tenants to cover the incidentals of move-in or briefly pay rent if the tenant is unable; and
- Education for landlords and tenants on rights and responsibilities.
- Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are experienced and well versed in landlord engagement because it is critical to getting Housing Choice Voucher Program recipients leased up quickly and efficiently.
- In supportive housing, the service providers, such as case workers and treatment facilities, are also experienced in working with landlords on behalf of tenants.
They may have access to a "bank" of landlords who accept homeless tenants.
Risk Mitigation Fund86
- State and local housing agencies or state housing finance agencies (HFAs) can share financial risk with landlords to encourage their participation. Government agencies may place funds in a reserve or risk mitigation fund to reimburse landlords for any damage to their units and ensure timely rent payment if tenants are unable to pay their share.
- The fund may be tapped for reimbursement for excessive damage to the unit, lost rent or legal fees beyond the security deposit, up to a predetermined limit.
- This is a powerful landlord engagement tool because it creates assurances and financial guarantees that participating landlords will not incur significant losses. In exchange for those assurances, landlords may be more willing to rent to formerly homeless individuals who have extremely limited income, poor credit, poor rental history or other barriers.
Louisiana HFA's Risk Mitigation Strategy:
Louisiana's HFA requires its local lead agencies to set aside a portion of each tenant's rent subsidy. Those funds are to be used in the event that a landlord's unit is held vacant for a month or as short-term or emergency rental assistance if the tenant is unable to pay his or her portion of the rent.