PHA Didn’t Prove Resident's Violent Tendencies
Facts: A PHA filed an eviction lawsuit against a resident based on drug-related criminal activity and an altercation with a neighbor that disturbed other neighbors.
The resident was arrested for driving under the influence of psychotropic medication in August 2011. A year earlier, in September 2010, the resident had an altercation with her neighbor that led to the neighbor calling the police. The PHA alleged that the resident assaulted the neighbor.
In her affidavit, the resident denied ever assaulting the neighbor. Rather, the resident claimed that she confronted the neighbor because she believed the neighbor was trying to sell drugs to her daughter.
The PHA didn’t submit any affidavit supporting its version of events; it wanted the court to decide that even if the resident's claim that she didn’t assault the neighbor were true, her version of the incident demonstrates that she acted in a manner that disturbed the neighbors, which is in violation of the lease, which states: “Tenant shall not act or allow household members or guests to act in a manner that will disturb the rights or comfort of neighbors.”
Ruling: A New York trial court ruled against the PHA and dismissed the case.
Reasoning: The court concluded that to allow the resident to be evicted for confronting a neighbor who she believed attempted to sell her daughter drugs would be ill advised. Also, the court ruled that the resident's nonviolent driving under the influence of prescription medicine didn’t violate the lease.
The court wouldn’t set a precedent in which a resident is penalized for protecting the health and safety of her child. Further, the incident occurred almost two years ago. The resident hasn’t had any other altercations in the duration of her 25-year residence at the site with other residents either before or after the incident in September 2010. While only one incident is sufficient to constitute "good cause" for termination of a lease, the PHA reaffirmed the resident's tenancy numerous times since the incident, demonstrating that the incident wasn’t a major concern to the PHA. To terminate a 25-year tenancy due to this altercation would be inappropriate. Therefore, the court said, the PHA provided no valid legal basis for eviction.
- Town of Oyster Bay Housing Authority v. Wilicki, July 2012