I live in a relatively rural part of the country, although I do live in a small town. I am surrounded by miles of woods and farm land. Poverty is a problem here, with so many children living in poverty that every child has access to free lunches at school.
Things have certainly changed since I was a child.
As landlords, Tim and I are quite familiar with the following scenario: Someone comes to you to rent a place. The idea that tenants are 'vetted' seems to be uncommon, but we are careful to protect our current tenants, and we feel a big responsibility not to bring in shady people. Something else that we make very clear at the very first meeting is that the apartment is being rented to them and them alone, If they decide to bring in another person to live with them, that person also must pass a background check.
This makes people angry sometimes, that we are so mindful. One young man listened and then announced that he intended to bring his girlfriend in as well as another couple.
"If those people are not approved by us, prior to the move-in, it would be considered a violation of the lease as carefully outlined in the paper you are required to sign before you move in. Your lease would be void, and you would have to move out." we explain firmly.
His jaw jutted and he aggressively told us that once he paid his rent, the property was his. He also told us that we didn't understand. He had the money and was prepared to give it to us on the spot and move in immediately. "No," we said, "that's not how we work."
It amazes me the number of landlords that are so anxious to fill an apartment that they would have taken that deal. They are the ones who complain about being taken advantage of by their tenants. It doesn't make sense to us. If they were more selective about the tenants, they could avoid most of their problems. Better to have the place set empty for a month or two than to move someone in quickly and find you've got a problem.
One of the most common problems is to have a group of people who are working together. The one with a job will apply for an apartment and then all of them move in. It is never a good situation. It's noisy, and chaotic, and the property usually takes a beating. Normally what happens is that rents get behind, and you wind up with an eviction situation which takes forever to sort out legally. Meanwhile, the property is destroyed before your very eyes and you have no recourse but to sue for damages after the fact. You will win, but you will never receive a penny.
These thoughts are brought to mind because, on the drive home from the eastern side of the state, I drove through a lot of towns. I caught a glimpse of a ragged person with a big back pack standing at the front door of a church. At a red light in another town, a man crossed in front of my car, bundled against the cold holding a hot cup of coffee, his head down, a back pack on his back. A group of people stood out of the wind against a building in yet another place.
We don't see that much where I live and it is a bit eye opening to me. We had a homeless woman for a while, but she moved on. We have a homeless man who lives in a place I will not name, and the local business owners seem to make sure of his wellbeing.
It has been so very cold and I worry about the people who have no place to go.
I think of the people that we have turned down, and I feel like a hypocrite.