Whether you’re a landlord who owns property in a low-income neighborhood or your tenant works in one, it’s practically guaranteed that at some point you’ll need to interact with someone from a lower socioeconomic class. That can be scary for anyone, but as the landlord, some special considerations come into play if you find yourself renting to tenants of lesser means.
Being fiscally cautious is always important when dealing with tenants who have less cash on hand and fewer assets than others might. Here are some tips for effectively managing properties in low-income neighborhoods so that your investment thrives as much as possible.
Educate Yourself About The Neighborhood You’re Investing In
If you’re going to be a landlord in a low-income neighborhood, you have to understand what that entails. You have to understand the economic and social climate of the area you’re investing in. This will help you avoid some common pitfalls of investing in distressed communities.
For example, you’ll want to be aware of any neighborhood improvement efforts and whether you’ll be considered a part of the solution or part of the problem. The level of education in the neighborhood is also a factor.
Studies have shown that tenants with a lower level of education are more likely to be delinquent on their rent. When possible, look for tenants who show that they can maintain a consistent income.
Make A Collaboration With Public Facilities For Free
Free public facilities are great strategies to make a deal with your tenants. Because free things will attract tenants with low incomes. One of them is by providing free phone service.
There are many people out there that need a phone to be able to remain in contact with their family and friends. However, if you are on a low income, it can be very difficult to afford a phone on your own.
There are programs out there that will help people on low incomes get free phone service. These types of programs can be found in your local community or through government agencies. If you’re in Georgia, you can refer them to the Georgia lifeline program, where they can get a free phone so you can always reach them if needed.
If you qualify for one of these programs, tenants can get free phone service without having to pay a monthly fee or any other fees at all.
Avoid Lease Agreements That Ask For Last Month’s Rent Up Front
Any landlord who has ever taken a walk through a low-income neighborhood has probably seen the “$500 deposit for the apartment!” signs in the windows of the low-income housing complexes. It’s tempting to just hook a tenant up with a lease and collect that deposit, but it’s not a good idea.
OPAs (Office of the PAs solicitor General) have found that low-income tenants are far more likely to have trouble paying their rent as soon as they do middle- and upper-class tenants. This means that you could be stuck dealing with a lot of eviction proceedings if you request a deposit of last month’s rent upfront.
Be Wary Of Tenants Who Want To Pay In Cash Only
This is a red flag for landlords who want to rent to low-income tenants. Tenants who want to pay the full amount of their rent in cash are probably trying to get away with paying as little as possible.
If you suspect that a tenant is underreporting their income, you might ask to see their pay stubs. If they have no reliable source of income, you might decide that they aren’t a good fit for your rental property.
Instead, try to find tenants who are at least able to get a legitimate job. You might even ask to see their pay stubs.
Don’t Be Afraid To Check On Your Properties Regularly
If you’re renting to low-income tenants, you often won’t be able to avoid the fact that you’ll need to pay a few unannounced visits to your rental property. Most middle- and upper-class tenants understand that it’s part of being a landlord.
Low-income tenants are much more likely to feel like their privacy is being breached, though. You’ll want to keep that in mind when you’re conducting tenant inspections.
To avoid surprising tenants, you can always schedule inspections for off hours. You can also try to be as polite as possible when you’re checking things out.
Don’t Be Afraid To Throw Out Bad Tenants And Evict
If there’s one thing you’ll learn as a landlord, it’s that bad tenants exist. You might be able to avoid this issue by avoiding low-income tenants, but even the wealthiest of tenants have their problems. If you find that a tenant is chronically late on rent, you might have to evict them.
The laws around eviction vary from state to state. You’ll want to make sure that you’re following the laws where you live and follow them properly. You might have a bad tenant who only pays their rent on the first of the month and never the day it’s due.
In some cases, you can evict them on the grounds of “failure to pay rent,” but you’ll have to wait until the rental due date has passed without payment before taking legal action.
All in all, if you are a landlord who is dealing with tenants from a lower socioeconomic class, you need to be extra careful to avoid any problematic situations. The best thing you can do is be vigilant, make sure you are following all the laws, and keep an eye out for red flags.
If you are a tenant who is dealing with a landlord from a different socioeconomic class, the main thing you need to remember is to be patient. They may not be as quick to help you as someone closer to your income would be, but you need to remember that they are just as invested in the situation as you are.