Owner Wasn’t Denied Due Process
Facts: An owner has participated in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program since 2005. He entered into a housing assistance payment (HAP) contract with the local housing authority for each of his units. Pursuant to the contracts, the housing authority has paid a portion of the monthly rent on behalf of the residents, and the owner has been subjected to about 20 inspections per year by the housing authority.
In 2008, the owner began to voice opposition to the housing authority’s system of inspecting HCV units, challenging the inspectors’ accuracy and competency. Between January and May 2009, he complained to officers and agents of the housing authority about the inspections. In July 2009, he received a letter from the housing authority’s senior vice president apologizing for the inconsistency of the inspections. This resulted in a temporary remedy for the owner’s complaints.
During inspections of the owner’s sites conducted between January and August 2011, the housing authority failed him for deficiencies that the owner claims didn’t exist, weren’t grounds for failure under the appropriate guidelines, and/or weren’t his responsibility. He incurred expenses for repairs. Many of the inspections were reevaluated by the housing authority, but it didn’t always update its system to reflect corrections.
After he received a notice of intent to terminate the subsidy for failed repairs, the owner contacted a housing authority official. The official asked the owner to provide written documentation that failed items had been corrected and to allow the housing authority to reinspect the failed items. The owner objected to a reinspection because the site had already passed inspection, but relented based on the official’s assurances that only the items in dispute would be inspected.
Instead, a complete inspection of the site was conducted in August 2011, and many violations were cited. The owner sued the housing authority for allegedly violating his due process rights by failing to provide proper notice, citing him for unnecessary repairs, abating his subsidy payments, and terminating him from the HCV program.
Ruling: An Illinois district court dismissed the owner’s complaint.
Reasoning: The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids a state from depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The owner claims that the housing authority violated his due process rights by failing to provide proper notice before allowing residents to vacate his properties, citing him for unnecessary repairs, abating his subsidy payments, and terminating his HAP contracts. The court stated that these are all claims that the housing authority violated his HAP contracts. And the court noted that the owner didn’t try any of the state’s post-deprivation remedies to enforce the contract or claim that these remedies were inadequate to protect his rights. Therefore, the court ruled that he wasn’t denied due process and his claims were dismissed.
- Schlessinger v. Chicago Housing Authority, November 2012