Housing Authority Legally Evicted Resident for Criminal Activity
Facts: After getting a report that a resident who received Section 8 housing assistance had committed an assault and robbery, the Omaha Housing Authority terminated the resident's lease. When the resident didn't vacate the premises as requested, the housing authority sued to evict him. The housing authority also terminated his housing assistance benefits.
The court said that Nebraska housing laws allowed the agency to terminate assistance if a recipient was involved in a criminal activity, which could include assault. The court stated that the evidence showed that the resident knocked down another person, reached into the person's jacket, and took his wallet. Even though the resident wasn't charged with a crime, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to support his eviction for criminal activity. The resident appealed.
Decision: The Supreme Court of Nebraska sided with the housing authority and upheld the resident's eviction.
Reasoning: The court pointed out that, under Nebraska law, a housing agency may, after three days' written notice of lease termination and without an administrative hearing, sue any resident for recovery of possession of the premises if the resident engages in any drug-related or violent criminal activity on the premises, or engages in any activity that threatens the health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of other residents or housing agency employees. Such activity includes physical assault or the threat of physical assault. Thus, under Nebraska law, the court concluded, the Omaha Housing Authority had the proper authority to sue to evict the resident because he was accused of committing an assault and robbery.
In addition, the court ruled that the resident's Section 8 housing benefits had been properly terminated. The court concluded that federal regulations allow a housing authority to terminate assistance to any household member who's engaged in or has engaged in violent criminal activity or other criminal activity that may threaten the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents or persons residing in the immediate vicinity. Under these regulations, the court noted, the resident's housing benefits could have been terminated solely based on the alleged assault, even though he wasn't charged with any crime, because the housing authority's decision was supported by the evidence.
- Banks v. Housing Authority of the City of Omaha, January 2011