Recent Case Reaffirms the Rights of Section 8 Tenants

Article by Yujing Sun

Housing Justice Project Volunteer Attorney

In a recently decided case Indigo Real Estate Services, Inc. v. Wadsworth, 070912 WACA, 67547-9-1, Judge Dwyer of the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1 held that a Section 8 Tenant may not be evicted without the court first determining that the eviction was for a good cause. Pursuant to Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. § 1437f), the Housing Choice Voucher, or Section 8 voucher program, allows tenants to take a voucher to a private landlord to secure low-income housing on the private market.  Voucher tenants pay a portion of their income to rent and a housing authority pays the difference directly to the landlord.  Compared to other residential tenants, landlords of Section 8 tenants agree to more tenant protections in exchange for receiving the voucher payments.

Federal regulations stipulate that the initial term of a section 8 tenancy must be for a minimum of one year.  24 CFR § 983.256(f). The landlord may not terminate the tenancy “[d]uring the term of the lease” except on the following grounds:

(1) Serious violation (including but not limited to failure to pay rent or other amounts due under the lease) or repeated violation of the terms and conditions of the lease;

(2) Violation of federal, State, or local law that imposes obligations on the tenant in connection with the occupancy or use of the premises; or

(3) Other good cause.

24 CFR § 982.310(a)(3). “Other good cause” for termination is defined to include the “[f]ailure by the family to accept the offer of a new lease or revision” and a “family history of disturbance of neighbors or destruction of property, or of living or housekeeping habits resulting in damage to the unit or premises.” 24 CFR § 982.310 (d)(4).

In the Wadsworth case, appellant Tina Wadsworth, a Section 8 tenant, leased an apartment from Indigo Real Estate Services (“Indigo”).  Indigo filed an eviction action against Ms. Wadsworth based on failing to comply with a 10-day notice to comply or vacate.  Without first determining whether failing to comply with the 10-day notice constituted a good cause for evicting a Section 8 tenant, the trial court ruled that Ms. Wadsworth had unlawfully detained the premises.  The Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1, reversed the trial court’s decision and held that a court must decide whether there is a “substantial violation” or a “repeated minor violation” of the lease that gave rise to a cause to terminate the lease.

Wadsworth not only summarized the laws and procedures a landlord must follow in evicting a Section 8 tenant, but also summarized those of a regular residential tenant.  It is a good source for assisting landlords and tenants in understanding their rights.

 

 

 

This post is for information purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The author and KCBA make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information posted to the blog.  Use of and access to the blog does not in any way form an attorney-client relationship between the post’s author, or KCBA, and the user.  Do not act upon any information contained in this post without seeking the advice of legal counsel licensed in your own state.


 

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