Resident's Sons Don’t Qualify for Unit Succession
Facts: During a resident's tenancy, she lived with several family members until those individuals left the household and she was the sole remaining occupant. Two months before her death, she submitted a permission form to add her two sons to her permanent household. This request was disapproved by letter on the grounds that both individuals failed the criminal background check. The resident died five days after the letter was issued.
The following month the manager met with the two sons and concluded that neither of them was an authorized member of the deceased resident's household, and as such they weren’t entitled to a lease. At the hearing, the PHA asserted that the sons were ineligible for public housing. One son had several criminal convictions, and the other son had a robbery conviction. In her decision, the hearing officer found that management denied the resident’s request for her sons to reside with her permanently, and even if the requests had been promptly approved, the sons would nevertheless be unable to show the required one-year period of authorized residence, and hence aren’t “residual tenants” as defined by the PHA’s regulations. The sons then asked a court to review the hearing officer’s decision.
Ruling: A New York court denied the sons' request and dismissed the case.
Reasoning: The sons couldn’t show that the PHA’s decision was arbitrary or an abuse of discretion. The evidence showed that neither son became an authorized occupant of his mother's unit prior to her death in June. Gaining succession as a remaining family member requires an occupant to move lawfully into the unit and qualify as a specified relative of the tenant of record and remain continuously in the unit for at least one year immediately before the date the tenant of record vacates the unit or dies, and be otherwise eligible for public housing in accordance with the PHA’s rules and regulations. Here, the sons were expressly denied permission to join their mother's household and, as such, they knew that they were unauthorized occupants. Mere unauthorized occupancy, without management's written permission, is insufficient to transfer tenancy rights.
- Ruiz v. New York City Housing Authority, December 2012