Many people think that getting approved for federal housing assistance guarantees them a home. Big mistake.
If you're approved for federal assistance, you still have landlords to deal with. And many landlords screen potential tenants before renting to them. If you're looking for Section 8 housing, here's how you can pass the tests that landlords often conduct without your knowledge.
A landlord's main concern is his property and his ability to collect rent through that property. The Section 8 program benefits landlords in that it offers them guaranteed rental payments, but it doesn't guarantee their unit will be taken care of. Because of this, landlords have been known to 'drop in' at the current residence of potential tenants. What appears to be a follow-up on your application is actually a tactic to see how you care for you current property.
If you're looking for a new place to rent, take a day to clean up your home and yard. That way, should your new potential landlord drop by, you can smile and relax, knowing you passed a clever test.
It's easy to get frustrated when having to jump through a bunch of administrative hoops when looking for housing assistance, but don't let this spoil your attitude. If you treat a landlord unkindly, he can deny your application without any explanation.
Although there are laws to prevent discrimination against tenants, rudeness isn't under protection. And if you're rejected on those grounds, how are you going to prove it anyway? For some people, guaranteed money isn't worth dealing with an asshole. So be cool.
Check Your Background Record
Of all the tests landlords perform, the background check is most common. You may not have a perfect record, but you should know what's on it before your landlord does. If he questions you about it, and you come up looking like a liar—application denied!
The key is to be honest. Own up to your past—but not unless you're questioned about it. Not every mistake you'll have made is public record, so it's best to know what your landlord might see before he sees it.
One way to do this is to use a public background checker. In a matter of minutes you can check your own background and be alerted of any record changes.
Also, you may want to use the service to check out your potential new neighbors. If you have children, grandchildren, or valuables in the home, it's good to know who you'll be living next to.
Finally, even if you have never been convicted of a crime, you should still check your background, as state and government agencies often have errors in their databases.