Provide Legal Protections for Domestic Violence Victims in Section 8 Programs
Owners and managers administering a multifamily housing project-based Section 8 program may not evict or terminate the assistance of individuals if the asserted grounds for such action involve instances of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
These individuals are protected under the Violence Against Women Act and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, commonly referred to as VAWA. On Oct. 1, 2009, HUD issued guidance (Notice H 09-15) on implementing VAWA in the following project-based Section 8 programs:
State Agency Financed;
Loan Management Set-Aside (LMSA);
Property Disposition Set-Aside (PDSA);
Section 202 Projects With Section 8 Assistance (Section 202/8); and
Rural Housing Section 515 Projects With Section 8 Assistance (RHS Section 515/8).
The VAWA protections apply to families applying for or receiving rental assistance payments under the above-named project-based Section 8 programs. The law protects victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, as well as their immediate family members generally, from being evicted or being denied housing assistance if an incident of violence is reported and confirmed.
Under VAWA, an incident of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking does not qualify as a serious or repeated violation of the lease, nor does it constitute good cause for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of the victim. Additionally, criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking is not grounds for terminating the victim's tenancy. However, the law does allow you to “bifurcate” a lease in order to evict, remove, or terminate the assistance of the offender while, at the same time, permitting the victim who is a resident or lawful occupant to remain in the unit.
Adopt New HUD Forms
HUD is providing a form—HUD-91066, Certification of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence or Stalking—as required by Section 606 of VAWA. VAWA says that you may ask a resident to certify that he or she is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, and that the incidence(s) of threatened or actual abuse are bona fide. You can use this information to determine whether the protections afforded under VAWA are available to the resident.
HUD also approved a lease addendum—Form HUD-91067—for use with the applicable HUD model lease for the covered project-based Section 8 program. This addendum revises the lease to reflect the statutory requirements of VAWA that are related to the Section 8 assistance programs.
Both forms can be downloaded from HUD's Web site at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/forms/hud9.cfm.
Understand the Seven Protections
The law offers these specific protections against eviction or denial of housing based on domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, and indicates what you can and cannot do as a site owner or manager:
1. If an applicant or program participant otherwise qualifies for admission or assistance, you can not use the individual's status as a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking as a basis to deny admission or rental assistance.
2. You may not classify an incident or incidents of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking as serious or repeated violations of the lease, or judge such incidents to be other “good cause” for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of a victim of abuse.
3. You may not terminate the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking based on criminal activity directly related to the incident or incidents. This applies whether the criminal activity was committed by a member of a resident's household or by any guest or other person under the resident's control.
4. You may take action to remove an offending household member from the home. Specifically, you may terminate assistance or bifurcate—legally divide—the lease to remove that household member. Whether or not the individual is a signatory to the lease and lawful resident, if he or she engages in a criminal act of physical violence against family members or others, you have the right to evict or remove him or her, or terminate his or her occupancy rights. This action is taken while allowing the victim who is a resident or a lawful occupant to remain.
5. The VAWA protection provisions may not be construed to limit you, when notified, from honoring various court orders issued to either protect the victim or address the distribution of property in case a family breaks up.
6. You have the right to evict a resident who may be a victim under the VAWA guidelines and who also commits an unrelated crime. Furthermore, if you can show an actual and imminent threat to other tenants or those employed at or providing service to the property if an unlawful resident's residency is not terminated, then evicting a victim is an option. Ultimately though, you may not subject victims to more demanding standards than other residents.
7. The VAWA protections shall not supersede any provision of any federal, state, or local law that provides greater protection for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
Enforcement Should Be a Partnership
HUD has outlined rights and responsibilities for owners and managers as well as residents to carry out effective enforcement of the VAWA provisions. Here's an overview of each:
Owners and managers:
Should update their tenant selection plans and/or house rules, as applicable, to incorporate the VAWA policies and protections. This will help to ensure uniformity in spreading awareness of VAWA and avoid improper evictions.
Should establish policies that support or assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, and that will protect victims, as well as members of their family, from losing their HUD-assisted housing as a consequence of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
Must give residents the option to complete the Form HUD-91066. This certification form may be made available to all eligible families at the time of admission, or in the event of a termination or start of an eviction for cause proceeding, it may be enclosed with the appropriate notice, directing the family to complete, sign, and return the form within 14 business days.
Must attach the HUD-approved lease addendum, Form HUD-91067, which includes the VAWA provisions, to each existing or new lease.
Must submit to you, if requested, a completed Form HUD-91066 or other supporting documentation within 14 business days of your request. If the certification or other supporting documentation is not provided within the specified time frame, you have the right to begin eviction proceedings.
May seek assistance in addressing domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking from a federal, state, tribal, or territorial jurisdiction; local police; or court. If such action has been taken, the resident may submit written proof of this outreach.
May be evicted if they engage in separate criminal activity, even if they are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. Furthermore, if a victim poses “an actual and imminent threat to other tenants or those employed at or providing service to the property,” they could be evicted, despite VAWA. Of paramount consideration within VAWA is that you may not hold the victim to a more demanding standard than other residents.
Additional information about protecting victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking under VAWA and use of the related HUD forms can be found online at http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/whatsnew.
- Violence Against Women Act and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005: P.L. 109-162, 119 Stat. 2960 (2005); available at http://thomas.loc.gov.
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