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This landlord would choose guy with job over homeless veteran

OK, I’m about to step in it here, but let’s give this a try.

There’s an article in The Seattle Times today called Washington signals to landlords: Denying homeless veterans housing is illegal. The basic summary is, “The state Legislature is considering a law that would bar a landlord from refusing to rent property to someone based on the source of their income, including voucher, welfare or disability payments.”

Wow, this is a tough one.

Who doesn’t want to support veterans? Especially vets that became disabled while serving. Don and I have been unwavering supporters of active duty and veterans for going on 20 years. I feel like I need to put this disclaimer in here because of what I’m about to say.

I’ve been a landlord multiple times in my life. And while there’s part of me that feels guilty about saying this, it’s true. If I had two applications for a rental property and one was a person with a stable job and solid references and the other was a homeless veteran who would pay with vouchers, I would most likely choose the person with the stable job.

Does that make me some kind of criminal? I would hope not.

Here would be my logic. Owning a rental property is not easy. It’s a huge risk, financially, and choosing the right tenant is 95 percent of the game. As a landlord, I always went out of my way to make my rental stand out. I wouldn’t hesitate to install upgrades and work with tenants on things like paint or pets.

The thing you need as a landlord is stability. Stability in a job and stability in references. One bad renter can completely destroy your property and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

It’s all about risk management as a property owner. It’s a business, not a charity.

While I certainly do not want to see any veteran struggle with housing, I also think it’s a overstep for the state to force me to do something with my very expensive property when I have more stable options available to me.

I would love to hear from veterans out there and landlords that have worked with this voucher program. Maybe my gut reaction is wrong and I’m overreacting, but I think that most property owners think like me.

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