PHA Can Evict Resident for Stealing Resident Participation Funds
Facts: A resident was convicted of second-degree theft. The resident’s crime involved misappropriating “Resident Participation Funds,” which were to be used “to generate programs for the residents within the community to gain either employment or anything to make them become self-sufficient, or to provide anything that would be a benefit to the residents within the community.”
The local PHA issued a notice of violation of rental agreement to the resident and proceeded to terminate his lease. The eviction board concluded that the member failed to comply with the rental agreement—specifically, the clause that prohibited him from engaging in criminal activities that threatened the health, safety, and right to peaceful enjoyment of the other residents of the site.
The lower court agreed with the PHA’s interpretation that the tenant association rules are binding obligations under the rental agreement. The court also agreed with the eviction board’s decision. The resident appealed on the basis that his crime wasn’t the type that threatened the health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of other residents and, thus, doesn’t justify eviction.
Ruling: The Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii agreed with the lower court’s decision.
Reasoning: Under the terms of the lease, a resident’s non-drug-related criminal activity may serve as a basis for a breach of the rental agreement if it threatens other residents’ health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of the premises. The resident’s theft in this case involved the appropriation and personal use of funds that were designated for activities generally meant to improve living conditions and satisfaction among residents.
In this case, the resident’s criminal theft misappropriated funds that were already allocated and were now unavailable for purposes that included the benefit of the health, safety, and peaceful enjoyment of the residents. Therefore, the court concluded the theft constituted the kind of criminal activity that posed a “threat” within the meaning of the lease and provided sufficient grounds for eviction.
- Kolio v. Hawaii Public Housing Authority, May 2014