Resident Breached Lease by Failing to Pay Rent
Facts: A resident of a HUD-assisted site received a rent subsidy that reduced her monthly portion of the rent to $139 of the total rent of $532. The owner sent the resident a “Notice of Termination of Lease” informing her that her lease would be terminated effective Dec. 31, 2016. The notice cited violations of the lease as the grounds for termination, including smoking in prohibited areas, harassing site employees, disturbing other residents, and failing housekeeping inspections by filling vents and electrical outlets with “white powder” and having excessive clutter near “windows and doors, as well as the hot water heater and . . . stove.”
The owner continued to accept payment of rent for the months of November and December 2016. The resident didn’t vacate the unit after her lease expired, so the owner commenced an eviction lawsuit on Jan. 5, 2017. On Jan. 10, 2017, the owner gave the resident a “Ten-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” addressing her nonpayment of rent for the month of January. The court entered judgment for ejection on Feb. 7, 2017, and the resident appealed to district court.
The district court concluded that by accepting rents for November and December 2016, the owner waived any right to evict the resident based on any lease violations occurring prior to that time. As a result of this waiver, the owner’s claims for breach of lease other than nonpayment of rent should be dismissed. But the resident’s failure to pay rents for January 2017 and the first portion of February 2017 constituted a breach of lease that entitled the owner to possession of the unit. The trial court ruled for the owner, and the resident appealed.
Ruling: The North Carolina appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.
Reasoning: The court found that the lower court’s findings of fact supported its conclusion that the resident’s failure to pay rents during January and the first portion of February constituted a breach of lease that entitled the owner to possession of the premises.
Assuming, for the sake of argument, the resident’s contention that her HUD subsidy was improperly terminated and that her portion of rent should have remained at $139 per month, the court pointed out that she paid no rent during January 2017 and the first portion of February 2017. She didn’t even try to pay the $139. Accordingly, her failure to pay rent for January 2017 and the first portion of February 2017 constituted a breach of lease entitling the owner to possession of the unit.
- Winston Affordable Hous., LLC v. Roberts, June 2019