Resident Didn't Exclude Drug-Dealing Son from Unit
Facts: A PHA charged a resident with nondesirability based on her son’s possession of marijuana in the unit. The resident had leased the unit as the only named tenant. The charges were settled pursuant to an agreement in which the resident agreed to exclude her son from the unit. Under the terms of the agreement, the resident’s tenancy was placed on probation for five years.
In March 2007, six months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and three months after she signed the settlement agreement, the resident asked her son to return to the unit to help her while she was undergoing treatment. Subsequent searches of the unit by police revealed weapons, ammunition, drugs, and drug paraphernalia. Her son had been dealing cocaine from the unit.
After a hearing, the PHA terminated the resident’s tenancy. A trial court found that the penalty was too severe and was shocking to one’s sense of fairness. The PHA appealed.
Ruling: A New York appeals court reversed the lower court’s ruling and upheld the PHA’s decision.
Reasoning: The court found that the tenant was already seriously ill when she agreed to exclude her son from the unit pursuant to the settlement agreement. Nonetheless, relying on her illness to excuse her actions, the resident knowingly violated the agreement by permitting her son to reside in the unit. The court also found that under the circumstances of the case, and contrary to the trial court’s determination, the sanction imposed wasn’t so disproportionate to the offense as to shock one’s sense of fairness.
- Ottley v. New York City Housing Authority, May 2013