Resident Can't Maintain Second Subsidized Unit
Facts: The owner of a project-based Section 8 housing site started an eviction proceeding against a resident for violating a substantial obligation of his tenancy. According to the owner, the resident had another unit that was subsidized by the local housing authority and he failed to recertify and supply information pertaining to his household income, household composition, and other eligibility requirements for the years 2010 and 2011.
Before moving into his current unit, the resident and his daughter lived in a unit located in a subsidized public housing project. The resident didn't deny that he had failed to surrender his tenancy at the previous unit. Rather, he testified that after his application for his current unit was accepted, he signed “stacks of paper” but never read them, and that he wasn't aware from any of the documents he signed that he wasn't allowed to have two units.
With respect to his alleged failure to recertify, the owner offered into evidence a series of notices to the resident, which HUD requires owners to provide to residents before they may be penalized for failing to comply with recertification requirements. The resident didn't dispute the owner's claim that he failed to recertify in 2011 and didn't say whether he received the initial notice. But he denied receiving the first, second, and third reminder notices and, during his cross-examination of one of owner's witnesses, pointed out that each of those notices was addressed to him at Unit 330.3N, not 3N.
Ruling: A New York court ruled in favor of the owner in the eviction action, but postponed the judgment and gave the resident 10 days to surrender the other unit.
Reasoning: The lease clearly stated that he “must live in the unit and the unit must be [his] only place of residence.” By failing to surrender possession of his other unit, the resident violated the lease. The court looked to HUD Handbook 4350.3 to determine whether this lease violation was substantial enough to warrant an eviction. In a section dealing with program eligibility, the Handbook provides that in order to be eligible for occupancy and housing assistance, “[t]he unit for which the family is applying must be the family's only residence” [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-5(D)]. Given HUD's position that having only one residence is a key requirement for occupancy of a subsidized unit, the court found that the resident's second residence constitutes a significant violation of, and material noncompliance with, his lease.
Lambert Houses Redevelopment Company v. Huff, April 2012