Owner Can Evict Resident for Chronic Late Rent Payments
Facts: A resident of a Delaware assisted site paid her monthly rent late three times in one year. Claiming that chronic late payment was a lease violation, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) sought to evict her. A judicial panel ruled for the resident, stating that the lease provision giving DSHA authority to terminate her rental assistance was not enforceable because it violated state law.
Decision: The Delaware Superior Court ruled that the DSHA was entitled to evict the resident because of her chronic late payments.
Reasoning: The issue was whether federal law “preempts” state law in the subsidized housing context. According to the court, preemption occurs only when federal and state laws are in direct conflict. Although federal law preempts state law regarding termination for late rent payments, federal law does not preempt the lease provision, which mirrors federal regulations, the court said. Regarding the specific question of whether three late payments in a year amount to a lease violation, the court ruled that HUD regulations support terminating a lease for repeated late rent payments.
- Delaware State Housing Authority v. Justice of the Peace Court, August 2008