“Is It A Good Idea To Rent To Tenants on Section 8 in Cincinnati (CMHA)?” written by Mike Marko.
This is not a typical blog post for either Bren or myself… we have pretty much kept our blog posts to be about the law of attraction, motivation, and tools and techniques used to build an online business.
As part of our wealth building strategy though, we own several rental properties located in both Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. We started with a few single-family homes in Dayton, and It wasn’t until the past two years that we expanded to owning rental properties in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This blog post is inspired by our experience renting single-family homes in Cincinnati, in hopes that it would give other landlords a heads up as to our experiences and possibly spare someone from some of the issues we’ve had.
So, without further adieu, here is our very first negative review…
Is It A Good Idea To Rent To Tenants on Section 8 in Cincinnati?
Bren and I have come to this conclusion after having experiences with Section 8 in Cincinnati (CMHA) with two of our properties over the past year.
I’ve never had a problem, previous to this, with Section 8 in Dayton, Ohio (DMHA), but unfortunately, I quickly discovered that Section 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio (CMHA) does not operate the same way.
The Tenant Experience with Section 8 in Cincinnati
First of all, expect your tenants to have a very difficult time navigating the system that is Section 8 in Cincinnati. With long lines and wait times they will have a difficult time getting the attention of the officials unless they are extremely proactive and contact (i.e. harass) Section 8 several times a day. The squeaky wheel…
I also had to help prod Section 8 in Cincinnati along on my tenants behalf i.e. make phone calls to get the proper paperwork in place. Expect a confusing convoluted phone system with full voice mail and an inability to reach the staff except by email. This was new to me because this is not the case with DMHA in Dayton.
Once you go through the long wait time and get the paperwork started then you get the first inspection.
Our Rental Property Inspection with Section 8 in Cincinnati
Our very first Section 8 in Cincinnati inspection for a new property went extremely well. We were proud of all the repairs we had completed over the past few weeks at our rental property after the previous tenants left. We were also pleasantly surprised when it passed with only a cracked window which had been sealed with caulk by the previous owners (this would have passed previously… but no problem). They wrote up the window with a seasonal extension because the inspection was done in the winter… and who wants to have their window replaced in the winter (especially it was a super cold winter).
Then Section 8 Cincinnati, unexpectedly, came out for the re-inspection of the window repair four months later. They didn’t let us know they were coming for reinspection even though I called four times to try and schedule it.
With the re-inspection they passed the repaired window, but they suddenly found two dozen items that need to be addressed that were existing items from the first inspection 4 months prior and gave us only 10 days to complete them (including concrete work).
With a very vague repair list of repairs, we had to try and figure out exactly what they wanted us to repair. The inspector later admitted he was vague on purpose because it would take longer for him to write it in a clear, concise manner??
Included in the list were things like:
Replace and paint side exterior entry door. Replace and paint??
Repair uneven sections of walkway and all tripping hazards?? The sidewalk was even, but had a few cracks.
Plug and seal all holes in foundation??
We tried to get information from the tenant on what was needed (because the inspector refused to give a clear answer on the phone or we were just not able to reach him)… but that didn’t seem to help. And every time we repaired something and they came to reinspect, they added several new things to the list.
We asked for an extension to the 10 days because the first letter read…
“it is possible that CMHA may grant one extension. To receive an extension, you must request an extension in writing no later than July 01, 2014″
We had every intention of completing all the repairs, including the damage done by the tenants over the past four months, but needed more time than 10 days to complete everything.
Section 8 Cincinnati replied that we had to put the request in writing. So we sent a fax requesting the extension, and we got a letter back saying that we had an extension as long as we could show we made some progress with the repairs.
Perfect, we thought. It will be easy to show some progress with the repairs.
So we called our handyman and started addressing the outside issues and made arrangements with the tenant to help us with some of the inside items… the tenants were very busy and they offered to help instead of trying to schedule appointments with our handyman. I thought that since we were going to show significant progress with the repairs on the outside outside that even if the tenants dropped the ball we would get the extension.
But when the CMHA inspector came back out to do the re-inspection he said that the extension only applied to the concrete and not to the rest of the work (which was 80% complete). He told us that was what he meant by the letter.
The letter states nothing to that effect.
They Had Stopped Payments So We Decided to Escalate
So this went on and on for a couple more inspections. We would do the repairs and the inspector would find something else to delay us getting our payments reinstated. All the while the tenant is staying in the house rent free for months. Since this could go on indefinitely, I decided to call the CMHA supervisor of the inspectors. I was hoping to come up with a plan to get everything done. The tenant wanted to stay, but we couldn’t keep them there rent free for many more months if this kept dragging on. Even the inspector decided he wanted the supervisor involved, just to get everybody be on the same page.
We all wanted to make sure that the repairs got done and resolve the situation. We just needed more time, the rent reinstated, and a clear and concise list of what needed to be repaired. Otherwise we could be chasing our tails for months.
CMHA had stopped payment… the tenants were now living there rent free. CMHA even deducted payment from another Section 8 property of ours to make sure NO RENT was being paid for the month. Unfortunately they deducted one day too much (I called four times to the accounting department and nobody returned my call to correct the error. Everyone told me they were the only ones who could help… so even to this day they still owe us for that one days rent.)
On the day of the meeting at the rental property, the CMHA supervisor came to the property with the inspector. As soon as I saw her come out of the car I KNEW there was going to be problems. She seemed like she was obviously not happy about doing this… and she was out to teach a lesson.
And boy was I right.
She added another dozen items to the list, including pouring a new concrete basement floor. (there were some uneven surfaces)
It is easy to be nit-picky on a hundred year old house, especially when the tenants had young kids who were causing damage to it ( broken lattice and doors off hinges)
And at this point we had not received rent for months because of the runaround from the initial inspector.
We Had Enough
So when the CMHA supervisor of inspectors added the additional items (and she was just 10 minutes into the inspection) we said we’d had enough. We had already given a 30 day notice as instructed by our lawyer for eviction because the repairs were not going to be done in time and there was no way we could have a tenant living there rent free, abusing the property, and racking up a water bill we ended up paying.
So when we told the CMHA Supervisor of Inspectors, she turned to the tenant and started giving her legal advice. She told her how to hold things up in court so she could stay in the rental property rent-free for as long as is necessary.
Someone who is supposed to be neutral giving legal advice.
We had more than enough… and quickly found an investor working for a hedge fund company with a lot of money backing them, and ties within CMHA (to help make things happen in their favor) and ended up selling the rental property. We were losing too much money fast.
And to top things off…
One final thing.. CMHA just recently started adding lead paint testing as part of the requirements for Section 8 inspections in Cincinnati. Now if you live in the main part of Cincinnati, you realize that most of the homes are at least 100 years old and probably 95% or more of homes older than 1960 have lead paint in Cincinnati. And since I have already witnessed that lead inspection in Cincinnati uses a type of laser that penetrates several layers of paint to see if there is any lead on any layer of paint, I knew that would be trouble. Lead mitigation can cost around $7, 000 (this figure from a local investor I know who has been hit several times).
To Wrap It Up
I have talked to big investors in the area (some of which previously owned 100+ properties) and they have all had similar experiences. They believe, but can’t prove, that Section 8 in Cincinnati does this type of thing to help reduce their costs because they have a very tight budget. I don’t know if this is a fact… this is pure speculation, but it does make you think.
So our experience wasn’t isolated. Others have experienced the same thing from Section 8 in Cincinnati.
My recommendation is don’t rent to any tenants on Section 8 in Cincinnati, especially if you only have a small number of rental properties in your portfolio. By small number I mean under 50. You don’t have the clout to deal with an agency like this.
Good luck and please leave a comment below.
Did This Help You? If so, I would greatly appreciate if you commented below and shared on Facebook.
1. Should the Tenant or the Landlord Pay For Utilities in Your Rental Properties?
2. How Do I Know If There Are Bed Bugs In My Rental Properties?
3. Should I Have Wood Flooring or Carpet in a Rental Property?