Housing Authority can Terminate Tenancy
Facts: In April 2009, a resident received a notice that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was considering terminating her lease due to repeated late rent payments. After the resident failed to respond to the notice and a subsequent notice, the manager sent a notice advising the resident that her file was being forwarded to the Tenancy Administration Department for potential termination. The notice further advised her that she would receive notice of a hearing at which she could defend against any charges made.
In December 2009, the resident received another notice that termination of her tenancy was being considered on the basis of “Breach of Rules and Regulations—Non Desirability” after NYCHA became aware of the January 2009 arrest of her son, an authorized occupant of the resident's unit. He was arrested in a neighboring unit and charged with possession of crack cocaine, weapons, and drug paraphernalia. A few weeks later, NYCHA served the resident with a notice advising her that she was being charged with non-desirability, breach of NYCHA rules and regulations, and chronic rent delinquency, and that a hearing would be held.
At the hearing, NYCHA presented the resident's lease, a copy of her income affidavit, a copy of a May 2010 rent ledger, and a Certificate of Disposition indicating that her son was convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. NYCHA then presented a copy of the rent ledger as of Dec. 3, 2010, which indicated that the resident owed $1,431. Her monthly rent was $283. The hearing officer admitted the December 2010 rent ledger into evidence over the objection of the resident's lawyer, who argued that the ledger constituted new charges without proper notice. The NYCHA board approved the decision to terminate the resident's tenancy, and the resident asked a court to review and overturn the decision.
Ruling: A New York trial court denied the resident's request and dismissed the case.
Reasoning: The court found that a public housing agency may terminate a tenancy based upon repeated violations of material terms of the lease, such as the failure to make payments due under the lease. According to NYCHA's Management Manual, chronic rent delinquency is defined as the resident's repeated failure or refusal to pay rent within the month due, at least three times during any 12-month period. Based on the record, the court ruled that NYCHA's decision was rationally based, and was thus reliable. With respect to the non-desirability charges, exclusion of her son from the unit was clearly appropriate when he pled guilty to a class B felony. His exclusion from the unit was appropriate based on applicable federal laws and regulations, and under the resident's lease.
- Coleman v. NYCHA, January 2012