Assessing Whether Tenant Actions Are Deliberate to Avoid Paying Rent
Q I have a resident who has been getting family support of $400 per month. She’s now eligible for a Section 8 apartment and the family has informed us they will no longer provide the family support. Can this be considered an attempt to reduce rent by deliberately reducing income?
A There is information in the HUD Handbook that addresses changes in income if the decrease is a deliberate attempt to avoid paying rent, but it pertains to interim recertification and it’s very difficult to prove, says Mark Chrzanowski, a HUD compliance expert at Gene B. Glick Company.
According to the Handbook, owners may refuse to process an interim recertification when the tenant reports a decrease in income if the decrease was caused by a deliberate action of the tenant to avoid paying rent—for example, the owner receives documented evidence that a tenant quit a job in order to qualify for a lower rent [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 7-11(D)(1)].
Here, for the applicant waiting for a Section 8 unit, it’s quite likely that the money from family was to maintain the applicant while waiting for the Section 8 unit so she wouldn’t be homeless, says Chrzanowski. He recommends that unless there is irrefutable documentation that it’s an attempt to avoid paying rent, he would instruct his managers not to pursue a claim of deliberately reducing income.