Court Allowed to Review Hearing Officer's Decision
Facts: A Section 8 resident was issued a voucher by the local PHA. After an annual inspection, the PHA determined that resident’s unit didn’t meet the Housing Quality Standards required under federal regulations, and it gave notice to the resident that the vouchers to her landlord would be terminated. The resident then sought approval from the PHA to move to a new residence. Pursuant to the PHA’s administrative plan, before she could be issued new vouchers for a new residence, the PHA required the submission of a “zero balance letter” from the current landlord stating that the resident didn’t owe the landlord any money for rent or damages. The landlord refused to issue the letter.
The PHA then terminated the resident's participation in the Section 8 program for her failure to comply with the PHA family obligations and submit the required documents. The PHA informed the resident of her right to contest the decision under the PHA’s administrative plan. She requested an informal hearing and was represented by counsel. The hearing officer upheld the PHA’s decision to terminate her participation in the Section 8 program.
The resident asked the court to review the hearing officer’s decision to terminate her rental assistance. The PHA argued that the decision was administrative and not subject to review. Following a hearing, the court granted the PHA’s motion to dismiss, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to review the decision. The resident appealed.
Ruling: A Georgia appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision.
Reasoning: The court found that the hearing officer’s decision was subject to review because his decision was the result of quasi-judicial action. The resident had the right to proper notice and a fair hearing, she was afforded the opportunity to present evidence under judicial forms of procedure, and the hearing officer made his decision after determining the facts under a preponderance of the evidence standard and applying the appropriate law. Thus, because the hearing officer exercised authority under federal law, conducted a hearing in accordance with judicial procedure, and his decision was binding, his decision was quasi-judicial and able to be reviewed by a court.
- Gould v. Housing Authority of the City of Augusta, November 2017