Posted by Tony Colella on June 08, 2010 at 08:39:47:
I don’t know that I can “spell out the horizontal apartment operators manual” for you in a single post. I have written probably tens of thousands of posts that describe one aspect or another of how and why I own and rent the mobile homes in my parks.
Our land/home book breaks down the basics of this approach. We spent days teaching these topics in person in Asheville by going to the parks and showing people what we tried that worked and what did not work.
My homes are not “spartan.” In most cases they are far above the norm. Even the older homes look nicer than the other homes our tenant prospects are seeing. We use the landlord friendly repairs such as pex plumbing, laminate floors, ceramic tile (although less and less of this), solid 6 panel steel stick built house doors for entry doors etc.
Our rental homes have a stove and fridge but we do not provide dishwashers, washing machines or dryers. Most of our properties are on septic systems for which dishwashers are not a good match. We also find that they break down too often, cost too much to repair/replace and offer little or no increase in rent or demand in our market. Your market may vary. Clothes washing machines and dryers are common for tenants to provide for themselves in our area and several used appliance stores offer them in our area.
We did not provide air conditioning primarily because Asheville has a rather mild climate. The few heat pumps we put in doublewides did well but garnered very little if any more rent for us and several were stolen which meant $2,000 or more in loss that is not covered by insurance (ask me how I found that out).
Controlling the tenancy was the primary reason I became a landlord. If I rent the homes I can get bad and non-paying tenants out quickly. If they own the home it can take forever and cost me a great deal, not to mention I have to move their home to a bonded storage lot (see what I mean).
I would encourage you do your own homework regarding section 8 and how it is administered in your area. Much of the success of the program will be based upon the fairness of the local administrator. In Asheville I have found them to be fair… neither pro-tenant nor pro-landlord. You still have hoops to jump through but once you learn them it is no big deal.
There are always horror stories regarding such programs but nearly every time I look into these accounts I find that the landlord failed to be a professional landlord. They let the tenants go too long without correction or documentation. For some reason landlords fall into a false sense of security and fail to do their jobs and soon the tenants are trying to run the show.
The two biggest problems a landlord faces is collecting rent and property damage. The section 8 program pays a portion of the rent if not all so problem number one is greatly controlled. In our area the section 8 waiting list is over 3 years long I am told. This means that these tenants had to wait a very long time to get this benefit and they do not want to lose it. The housing inspector comes our annually (if not sooner) to re-inspect the home. Recently they became even more fair by providing a repair list that specifies what the tenant must fix and what the landlord must fix. This is huge. If the tenant does not fix what is on the list then they will lose their benefits.
In order for the section 8 tenant to move they must have a ?letter of good standing? from the landlord stating that the home is in good condition and that the rent is current. Where else do you get this kind of control as a landlord? Very, very few of my section 8 properties have been damaged over the years. I can only think of a couple compared to dozens of my traditional tenant rentals.
I am also a big fan of social security and disability recipients as tenants. I find that they budget better and pay their rent on time. Their income is not dependent upon a job or the weather. They get paid regardless of what is going on in the local economy.
Does all this mean that this system is easy or foolproof? Nope but I find that it gives me greater control over the property and the tenancy and greatly reduces my 2 primary concerns (rent collection and property damage). This also means I still have to do my part and be an active landlord. Trust me, I get slack sometimes too and have paid the price for it from time to time but by knowing the system I was always able to remedy the situation quickly and with greater affect than if it were a traditional tenancy.
Lastly you must still screen your section 8 tenants. I have had a few bad apples get through but the risk is still less than I was exposed to with traditional tenants. If you just take ever tenant who has section 8 you will find that your park suffers from the same problems as public housing does (which to my knowledge has never worked).
Professional landlording requires effort, action and documentation. Whenever I get burned I can find the root of my exposure in one of those three areas. Again, the number of times burned is greatly reduced and the amount I am burned for is so much less than it was with traditional tenants that I am still better off, even when I do slack (though I don’t recommend slacking).