SUGGESTED PRACTICES

This is an evolving list!

Have ideas? We welcome your input, whether by email, over tea, or an upcoming meet-up.

Processes

  • Take a Fair-Housing training.
  • Review/approve applications in the order they are received [now part of Portland City ordinances].
  • Don’t assume online background checks are accurate; give prospective tenants the chance to explain an item on a background check.
  • Don’t charge application fees. [Fees for unscreened applications are required to be returned anyway in Oregon, so in a first-come-first-served system, not many would be screened. Some 3rd party application services charge the applicants a single fee.]
  • Don’t screen based on credit score (credit scores are not a proven indicator, and they are inequitable); instead, take the time to contact references and verify the factualness of the application.
  • Be non-discriminatory around criminal backgrounds; use a case-by-case evaluation instead of a flat no.
  • Be flexible in types of ID required, to allow undocumented community members to rent.
  • Have as few rental rules as possible.
  • Structure leases so that tenants can end them easily without heavy penalty, such as being able to end a year lease with 30 days’ notice and no fee if tenants have significant life change such as in employment, health, family. Could also allow a trial/inspection period before entering a long-term lease.
  • Work with a placement agency that gives support to their clients, or find another way to be able to accept tenants who need to build a solid rental history.
  • Build an agreed upon, modest, scheduled annual rental increase into your rental agreement (transparency and predictability for tenants, which they can budget/plan for)

Housing Features

  • Increase accessibility, even when there isn’t an obvious need: ramps, handrails, lever door handles… [Temporary or long-term injuries happen, and tenants might also have visitors who would benefit from universal design features.]
  • Allow pets if possible (pets can be beneficial to well-being).
  • Healthy living: trees, vegetable beds for tenants, composting, solar panels, not using/allowing toxics, CSA delivery point...
  • Improve shared spaces & add beauty: Lighting, picnic area, pleasant colors...
  • Free storage
  • Internet service
  • Noise prevention: Insulation, staggered entryways, plantings, etc. to absorb sound
  • Build/remodel to suit families, including multi-generational/extended families.

Communications/Relationships (building community and trust)

  • Meet prospective tenant at a cafe, and pick up the tab, when you go through the rental agreement together.
  • Check in periodically to see how they are doing, and if they can think of any repairs that are needed.
  • If duplex/multiplex, host a picnic so that tenants can get to know each other.
  • Skills bank
  • Gift cards to tenants