New program lowers risk for landlords renting to subsidized tenants
Nicholas Yuva has plenty of experience knowing the needs and concerns of landlords. Recently hired as the Landlord Mitigation Program administrator for the Office of Supportive Housing in the state’s Commerce Department, Yuva has spent more than 20 years as a landlord in Oregon and Utah.
This new program, which Yuva was hired to administer in July, aims to put to rest landlords’ concerns that their property might be damaged beyond the amount of a reasonable damage deposit or that subsidized tenants might leave them in the lurch with unpaid rent. It does so by offering to reimburse landlords for damages caused by subsidized tenants not covered by their deposit. No more need to require double damage deposits – you’re covered!
“My goal is to build landlord confidence in renting to subsidized tenants,” Yuva explained, adding that he has just finished a month-long tour of the state in which he talked with landlords and service providers about the new program. In fact, we met him in person recently in an open forum for landlords and property managers at CCAP in Aberdeen.
Yuva shared this story about a recent conference he attended: “I asked the landlords how many had ever had a debt because of a subsidized tenant. And some hands went up. Then I asked how many had ever had a debt from a non-subsidized tenant and just as many hands went up. My experience as a landlord – having rented to people from subsidized tenants to people renting very high-end property – is that you have the same risk with both groups. There are bad apples in every bunch, but only about 5 percent in each group,” he said.
However, landlord confidence in renting to people with subsidized rent was becoming yet another issue that was contributing to the growing homelessness epidemic. So legislators
recently passed RCW 43.31.605 offering landlords compensation for up to $5,000 in qualifying damages caused by a tenant in the program during tenancy. In addition, it offers up to 14 days of rent loss and $1,000 to the landlord to pay for move-in upgrades needed to pass inspection.
Landlords must sign up to receive money from a subsidy provider for a subsidized tenant. In some cases the property must pass a habitability inspection before being included in the program. If they fail the inspection, the landlord can receive up to $1,000 to get the property up to par to pass inspection, after investing $500 in the property themselves. Additionally, the Landlord Mitigation Program will pay up to 14 days of lost rent caused by delaying the move-in for inspection and repairs.
One of the many contributing causes of homelessness is simply the lack of housing available to subsidized and low-income tenants. This new program, by helping alleviate any potential risk to a landlord, hopes to help mitigate a portion of that problem.
“It is just one program in the vast number of programs out there, but it’s one way to relieve the pressure a little,” Yuva said. “It provides more security for the landlords because the landlord is being made whole. Everything we can do along these lines is going to benefit the homeless population,” he said.
So far just five landlords have filed claims through the program, but of those, three of the claims were approved, Yuva said. “There’s a lot of interest in the program, but we’re not seeing as many claims as we’d like yet,” he said.
The Landlord Mitigation Program was set up as a replenishing fund that receives money from a $3 additional document fee that is collected in real estate transactions. With the addition, the fee is now $27. Of the money collected, 60 percent goes to each county to assist in their local homeless and housing programs and the remaining 40 percent goes to fund the new program.
We’re optimistic this program will make a difference in combatting the homeless epidemic from yet another angle. And, having people housed in safe and affordable housing benefits the entire community!
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PROGRAM
To learn more about the Washington State Landlord Mitigation Program:
Take a look at the excellent information provided on the website: www.commerce.wa.gov/landlordfund. .
Consider attending the Trends Northwest Trade Show at the Seattle Convention Center on Dec. 14. Yuva will speak about the program at 1:30 p.m.
Attend a webinar in which Yuva explains the program. They are hosted at 11 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the webinar or to ask questions about this new program.