Feb 5, 2014

No Gay Chile Left In The Cold (Tips On Successful Renting and Roommating)

As the need for adequate housing grows, the ability for people to take advantage of those needing safe, sanitary, and affordable housing grows as well. Being a housing professional Myself (specifically HUD project based, and Section 8 New Construction), it pains me to see or hear about our LGBT  folks in bad or worsening housing situations due to lack of knowledge. So, I’ve decided to put together just a short and hopefully informative crash course in renting a space (for your housing needs, mind you. nothing commercial).
When you’re interested in spreading your wings, establishing your very own den of fabulosity, or that ever popular man cave, there are several things to consider. 

Is this a cohabitational situation?  Today there are so many ways to meet prospective roommates. There should definitely be an intense question and answer session had between both the original renter and the new or prospective roommate. Chief among them from the prospective roommate to the original renter has to be “How long has the space been vacant?” and obtaining a history of past roommates and why they no longer occupy the space.  Any type of community space rules should also be discussed at the time. Different folks have very different housekeeping standards. A word to the wise, do not set yourself up to end up living with Mommy Dearest. “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the dirt”. “Now scrub”. Be prepared to provide accurate information about yourself, your lifestyle (do you entertain often, have frequent sleepovers, etc). Be as truthful. as you can about who you are, your income, and what you expect from the living situation.  Most importantly, draft a lease between yourself and the other roommate(s). The lease protects you and guarantees you have a legal document that will lay forth what will happen with your security deposit and any advance rent paid. If you are in a cohabitational situation it is also always the best rule of thumb to provide a 30 notice of intent to vacate (unless your lease states otherwise).  

If you are planning to be the primary leaseholder,

check out the place once or twice. Take someone with you who is versed in renting and housing (if possible). That way any defect to the unit can be discussed right away and questions asked and plans set up to address any deficiencies you may find. An informed renter is the best type of tenant and any landlord with his/her salt will be impressed by your knowledge and diligence.  Ask for a copy of the lease. This is important. ASK FOR A COPY OF THE LEASE.  You should never, ever, ever, rent something without a lease. Even if you are subletting. Nine times out of ten, the only time someone will sublet and not provide you a lease is when the original lease forbids subletting the unit. A situation like this puts you in jeopardy of eviction.  If the lease does not spell out what is to happen with your security deposit and any additional monies paid, inquire and ask if that information will be added. When paying rent always ask for a receipt or use a check or transfer. That way you have  running proof of what you’ve paid. Always address any maintenance concerns immediately. Do not allow items to stack up. It lessens the chance that someone will indicate there is negligence on your part

Finally, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. If you are getting a subsidy for your unit, know that you can always contact HUD to address any issues or concerns and answer any questions.  Every state has a Landlord/Tenant code which you can obtain by looking it up online and adding your state to the search.  Also don’t forget about the Fair Housing Act, it prevent discrimination in leasing and housing and new protected classes have been added. Among those include sexual orientation and gender identity. Just look up Fair Housing and it will outline what classes are covered for your state. 

Below are some very helpful links, and GOOD LUCK! Now sashay and shontay to your new fab pad. 

HUD Fair Housing Page
Fair Housing Act
HUD (for subsidized housing issues)

You can also utilize 311 for your area and always make sure to address any concerns to your landlord IN WRITING. 

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