Owner Can Evict Resident for Guests' Criminal Behavior
Facts: When a police officer was dispatched to a resident's unit to investigate a noise complaint, the officer detected the odor of recently burnt marijuana emanating from the unit and observed smoke lingering in the air. Two of the resident's guests told the officer that they had smoked marijuana in the unit.
After receiving notice of the incident, the owner initiated the eviction process. In accepting housing assistance from HUD, the resident had agreed to a number of terms in her lease, including that she, members of her household, and her guests wouldn’t engage in criminal activity in her unit. The resident was notified that she was being evicted for unlawful acts that occurred in her unit, specifically drug use. The resident requested and received a review hearing, after which she was notified that the eviction determination was upheld.
The owner then started eviction proceedings in a small claims court, which upheld the eviction determination. The resident appealed, alleging that her due process rights had been violated. The resident argued that she was denied a sufficient opportunity to present a defense to the eviction claim because the owner didn’t provide her with a copy of the incident report filed by the officer.
Ruling: The Indiana appeals court upheld the lower court's decision.
Reasoning: The court stated that even assuming that the owner was required to provide the resident with a copy of the incident report, the resident failed to show how she was prejudiced by the owner's failure to do so. The record showed that the resident was well aware of the basis for her eviction. The owner sent a letter to the resident notifying her that she had violated her lease agreement by allowing criminal drug activity in her unit and, as a result, her lease was being terminated. In her response letter, the resident indicated that she was aware of the noise violation, that the officer had detected the odor of recently burnt marijuana and observed lingering smoke emanating from her unit, and that at least one of her guests had admitted to the officer that he had smoked marijuana in her unit. In addition, the resident was given the opportunity to review and contest the information included in the incident report during her requested review meeting. Thus, the resident was given a full opportunity to present a defense, and she failed to show how her defense would’ve been different had she received a copy of the incident report before the review hearing.
- Crump v. Claystone at the Crossing, January 2014