Unresponsive Resident Didn't File Proper Objections
Facts: The lease of a HUD-subsidized resident states that each year he must recertify that he’s eligible to receive the rent subsidy. In early January 2017, the owner sent a reminder about the annual recertification and asked the resident to schedule an appointment on one of six days that month on which interviews were being conducted. The resident was unresponsive. At the beginning of February, the owner sent him a second reminder and asked him to schedule an interview later that month. He still did not respond. And in early March, the owner sent him a third reminder and asked him to schedule an interview later that month. The resident didn’t respond.
On March 9, the owner gave the resident a written 30-day notice to vacate because he had failed to recertify and was therefore in violation of his lease. The resident didn’t respond. On May 10, the owner gave him written notice that he had to vacate the apartment by the end of the month. The notice included contact information and told him that he had the right to request a meeting. The resident neither requested a meeting nor provided the necessary information for recertification. Neither did the resident vacate his apartment.
In June 2017, the owner filed for possession and the matter was referred to a magistrate. At a hearing, the resident moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that the owner had failed to provide him with adequate notice—notice that complied with federal and Ohio law. The magistrate determined that the notices were proper and overruled the resident’s motion to dismiss. The magistrate also ruled that the resident had failed to recertify and was in violation of his lease. On Oct. 27, the trial court adopted the magistrate’s decision. The resident appealed.
Ruling: An Ohio appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision.
Reasoning: The court ruled that the resident didn’t make proper objections to the magistrate’s restitution of the apartment decision. Because the resident failed to properly file objections, the court’s review was limited to claims of plain error. This “require[s] a showing that but for a plain or obvious error, the outcome of the proceeding would have been otherwise, and reversal must be necessary to correct a manifest miscarriage of justice.” It was the resident’s burden to show plain error, and he did not claim plain error, and the court saw none.
Also, the resident didn’t file his objections to the magistrate’s decision in the appropriate time limit. Under state law, after a magistrate files written findings of fact and conclusions of law a party has 14 days to file objections. Here, the magistrate filed the written findings and conclusions on Nov. 6. The resident filed his objections on Nov. 22, two days late.
- Biltmore Towner Apts. v. Dalton, July 2018