Property Management Blog

Source of Income as a Protected Class & What It Means for Columbus Property Managers

Mitch Deminski - Friday, April 8, 2022

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The City of Columbus has been talking about source of income and how it may be considered a protected class when renting out a property. This is widely applied to Section 8 tenants and people who have housing vouchers when they cannot afford rent on their own. However, it’s not only Section 8. When you think about someone who earns social security income, that’s also going to be protected. Ultimately, it means that landlords would not be able to reject a potential tenant simply because their income comes from government programs instead of a salaried job. 

This is creating some concerns for those of us in Columbus property management. It has nothing to do with low-income housing; we want people with Section 8 vouchers and fixed incomes to have access to safe and quality housing. However, the problems arise when it comes to meeting the strict and generally irresponsible requirements of the program.

Working Within the Section 8 Program

In Columbus, all homes that are available to Section 8 tenants must be inspected. That’s understandable, but it often takes 30 to 45 days to get an inspection from the housing program. If you are a rental property owner and you have to endure four different inspections that take 40 to 65 days before any Section 8 funds are authorized - your cash flow is going to be detrimentally impacted. It’s a long time to wait when you’re trying to get your property rented. 

There’s also been different criteria proposed for people with Section 8 vouchers. We cannot change our lease agreements for some tenants but not all tenants. Security deposits have also been difficult to navigate. Many low-income tenants get assistance with their monthly rental payments, but how do they come up with the security deposit? We don’t want to put those tenants in a bad position or set them up for failure. 

Landlords Leaving Section 8

affordable housingAt Solutions for Real Estate, we’ve been renting to tenants with housing vouchers since 2008, and since then, we have seen many Columbus rental property owners abandoning the affordable housing program because of the red tape that’s involved. If Columbus is moving towards the idea that source of income cannot be used when screening tenants and all landlords will have to rent to Section 8 tenants, they’re going to have to clean up the program. 

Affordable housing is in the best interests of the entire community. It’s going to be difficult to provide that housing, however, if rental property owners decide to avoid leasing their homes altogether because of the suffocating requirements of the housing program. 

We are working closely with the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and the city council on what this means both locally and nationally. We want to be part of the solution. 

If you have any questions about what this means for you, please contact us at Solutions for Real Estate.