Minnesota Owners Can Terminate Section 8 Participation
Facts: Owners in Minnesota stopped accepting new Section 8 residents for their property, using a two-phase plan to not renew the leases of existing residents. In 2005 and 2006, they did not renew Section 8 leases for one- and two-bedroom units; in 2006 and 2007, they did not renew Section 8 leases for three-bedroom townhouses.
One resident who wanted to remain in his unit asked the owners to reasonably accommodate his disability by renewing his Section 8 lease. They declined to do so. So the resident moved out at the end of the lease term and sued the owners, alleging disability discrimination in public accommodations. The court ruled for the owners, and the resident appealed.
Ruling: The appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling.
Reasoning: A property owner can decide to end participation in a Section 8 housing choice voucher program and, consequently, to stop leasing to a Section 8 resident, without violating disability rights, the court concluded.
Minnesota law does not require property owners to participate in the Section 8 program, the court noted. And, the court explained, all that's required on the part of property owners to terminate participation in project-based rental housing is a one-year notice of their intent to exercise their option to terminate or not renew a federal Section 8 contract and mortgage or to terminate a housing subsidy program.
The court, therefore, concluded that, consistent with federal regulations, Minnesota law does not require property owners in Minnesota to participate in Section 8 programs, and that refusal to participate in a voluntary program for a legitimate business reason does not constitute discrimination under state law.
- Edwards v. Hopkins Plaza Limited Partnership, June 2010