The jury is still out, on Mayor De Blasio's new housing program (LINC) to tackle homelessness, but landlords are now realizing they need to review all the facts and not only rely on the agency or housing counselors to deliver a good tenant.
A previous rental assistance program known as "Advantage" or "Work Advantage", came to a messy ending in 2011, leaving many landlords stuck with several months of unpaid rent when the city terminated the program. Understandably, landlords are concerned about renting to any program, especially if its promoted under a new administration. To encourage landlords to accept his program the Mayor's office is also offering a $1,000 bonus to landlords, as well as advance rent. These incentives are great, but landlords should not lower their demands for tenants with credit scores above 620, savings and a 1 on 1 interview with all occupants, before making a final decision. Many landlords are now voicing complaints about LINC renters, and seeking options to terminate their lease because they made a bad decision to rent mainly on the housing specialist recommendation.
If you have an apartment to rent to LINC we strongly recommend you consider the following before making a decision. These recommendations are good not only for LINC but any tenant. We have compiled this list based upon our own experiences with LINC renters and interactions with landlords.
1. BE WARY OF PUSHY LINC HOUSING SPECIALIST & HOUSING COUNSELORS.
A housing specialist primary concern is to place their clients. They will often not be there after the lease is signed, even though they will swear differently. If the rent is not being paid or the tenant is not in compliance, they will tell you they cannot force the tenant to do anything. In one instance, a LINC housing specialist emphasized she lived in the area and would be checking on the tenant daily if a lease was issued. The next month, the tenant moved her boyfriend into the apartment and did not pay her portion of the rent. When contacted, the housing specialist made it very clear, they could not force the tenant to pay rent. Almost 2 months later, the housing specialist has not been out to visit the client, and the rent is in arrears.
2. DO NOT FALL FOR THE TAGLINE, "THE CITY WILL PAY THE RENT DO NOT WORRY".
Timely rent payment is expected, but is not the only factor important for good tenancy. For example, a LINC tenant rented an apartment in the Brooklyn area. Almost immediately upon moving in, the tenant began smoking inside the apartment. Many complaints later, the smoking has not ceased. The landlord is now slowly counting down the date for the lease to end.
3. CHECK EVERYONE'S CREDIT
In almost all cases, the tenant has to pay a portion of the rent. The government will not pay everything. The LINC Housing Specialist will try to suggest, the tenant's portion of the rent is very small and will be paid, therefore you should not be worried. Nothing could be further from the truth. In one case, it was already the 15th of the month and the landlord did not receive the tenant's portion of the rent. When the housing specialist was alerted, she responded, "the tenant has until the end of the month to pay the rent why are you hounding her?". We explained, the rent is due by the 1st and late by the 6th. The housing specialist could not understand why the landlord needed the rent paid by the 1st of the month. It is recommended that you check a tenants credit score before making a decision to rent. If the credit shows a failure to pay bills on time, this is an indication the rent may also be late.
4. LINC RENTERS SHOULD HAVE SAVINGS
To qualify for LINC, everyone has to have some type of income and presently reside in the shelter. This is a perfect opportunity for these tenants to save because they have minimal expenses. If they fail to save while they are in the shelter they will not save when they move out and have 4x the expenses. Tenants who do not save will always be living in crisis mode. Any emergency will delay their rent payment and they will not take any responsibility for their actions. If your LINC tenant has no savings or a credit score above 620 with no collections.........reject the application.
All LINC tenants are not bad. We have found some wonderful people in the program who pay their rents on time and are model tenants. We have found that selecting the right tenant starts 1st with the Housing Specialist who equally cares about the landlord, the agency who demands the highest standard and tenants who are value centered. Do not feel like you have to be rushed to rent to a LINC tenant. If you are a landlord with questions about LINC please call or TEXT us at: 914-299-0420. We have LINC renters that have been screened and will take care of your apartment and pay rent on time. Our experience in working with LINC will benefit you greatly in selecting the right tenant.