PHA Can Evict Resident for Grandson’s Crimes
Facts: A local PHA sought to evict a resident because of the criminal conduct of her grandson. The trial court granted the eviction, but did so based on grounds that weren’t included in either of the two eviction notices served on her or in the complaint filed against her.
The PHA sought to evict the resident based on two separate incidents involving her grandson. The first event involved her grandson’s arrest for the July 5, 2011, burglary of a neighbor’s unit. On Jan. 24, 2012, the PHA served the resident a notice of lease termination, alleging that she had violated the terms of her lease because “a guest or other person under [her] control has engaged in criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to the peaceful enjoyment by other residents[.]”
The second incident occurred on March 26, 2012, during the first eviction action. This time the grandson was stopped by police coming out of his grandmother’s unit with marijuana in his pocket. On March 29, 2012, the PHA served a second notice of eviction, alleging that the resident had violated her lease because “a guest or other person under [her] control has engaged in drug-related criminal activity[.]”
At trial, the resident didn’t dispute her grandson’s involvement in the burglary or in the drug offense. Rather, she argued that he wasn’t a guest or a person under her control. But she testified that her grandson visited her frequently, was welcome as a guest in her home during June and July of 2011, and that it was generally known that her grandson could be found at her unit.
As evidence, the PHA presented the police report from the arrest, which listed the resident’s unit as the grandson’s address. The arresting officer also testified that he used her address on the report because that was the address provided by the grandson.
Additionally, a letter from a juvenile court employee addressed to the officer stated that the grandson resided at the resident’s address with an electronic-monitoring unit from July 3 to Oct. 3, 2011. During his trial testimony, the officer clarified that the initial starting date was incorrect, and that the grandson had actually been placed on the monitoring unit on July 13.
The site manager also testified that she confronted the resident about her grandson’s presence in her home, and the resident admitted to her that the grandson had resided with her while on the monitoring unit. The resident subsequently reached an agreement with the PHA whereby she promised that she would no longer allow the grandson to stay in her home.
At the close of the case, the PHA asked to amend its complaint to include the drug offense. The trial court granted the request. The motion to amend didn’t include the electronic-monitoring placement as a lease violation, and neither of the eviction notices listed it as grounds for lease termination.
Even though no one raised the electronic-monitoring placement as a basis for eviction at trial, the trial court ruled for the PHA on the basis that the resident violated her lease by allowing her grandson to reside with her while he was on electronic monitoring. The trial court in its entry of decision didn’t address either of the grounds set forth in the two eviction notices that were served on the resident.
The resident appealed, claiming that the trial court erred by basing its decision on grounds already settled between the parties and not specified in an eviction notice.
Ruling: An Ohio appeals court upheld the trial court’s judgment.
Reasoning: Pursuant to federal law, the PHA employs a zero-tolerance policy in an attempt to rid its communities of criminal and drug-related activity. In this case, the court decided that there was overwhelming evidence introduced at trial that the resident permitted her grandson to be at the premises, and that on two occasions the grandson engaged in criminal conduct in the immediate vicinity of her premises that constituted a violation of her lease.
Although the trial court erred in evicting the resident on grounds that weren’t mentioned in either eviction notice, there was sufficient admissible evidence that the resident breached her lease based on her grandson’s criminal activity as stated in the first eviction notice, as she admitted that her grandson was a welcome guest at her unit and that people knew to look for him there.
Although the trial court violated the resident’s due-process rights by basing its judgment of eviction on grounds not listed in the eviction notices, eviction of the resident was proper because the evidence indicated that a person under the resident’s control had engaged in criminal and drug-related conduct in violation of the resident’s lease, and because those grounds had been set forth in the eviction notices.
- Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority v. Patterson, December 2013