HUD Supports Residents' Right to Remain in Their Homes with Enhanced Vouchers
HUD filed an amicus brief through the U.S. Department of Justice to the Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit supporting a tenant’s position that the enhanced voucher (EV) statute requires owners to have good cause to not renew a lease. EVs are provided to tenants living in properties with private, project-based assistance when a “conversion action” takes place, such as when a project-based Section 8 contract expires and the owner decides to “opt out” and not renew the contract.
HUD has interpreted the EV statute to provide tenants with the right to remain in their homes at the end of a lease term. However, a trial court had ruled that good cause is not required, and the Third Circuit upheld that decision two to one. In response to the dissenting judge, however, the Third Circuit granted a rehearing.
The dissenting judge explained that the “may elect to remain” clause by its plain text provides an assisted household with the right to remain, and that language necessarily limits a landlord’s ability to evict tenants at will at the end of a lease. The judge added that the majority’s interpretation of the statute as only obligating HUD to provide EVs rendered Congress’s addition of the “may elect to remain” language meaningless if the owner retained unfettered authority to decline to renew a tenant’s lease. The judge added that the majority’s interpretation was at odds with a Ninth Circuit decision and with the decisions of every district court that had previously considered the question. As a result, the Third Circuit granted a rehearing and invited HUD to file an amicus brief.