Sunday, August 23, 2015

6th Circuit To Cleveland-Area Housing Authority: Landlord's Additional Monthly Fees Charged To Section 8 Tenants Who Holdover After Lease Expiration Constitute Add'l Rent Under Voucher Program, So Cough Up The Additional Subsidy!

From an Opinion Summary from Justia US Law:
  • The Section 8 low-income housing assistance voucher program, 42 U.S.C. 1437f(o), is administered by public housing agencies such as Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA).

    Program regulations define “rent to [the] owner” as “[t]he total monthly rent payable to the owner under the lease for the unit. Rent to owner covers payment for any housing services, maintenance and utilities that the owner is required to provide and pay for.”

    Velez and Hatcher, voucher recipients, entered into one-year leases with K&D. The leases provide: “If Resident(s) shall holdover after the end of the term of this Rental Agreement, said holdover shall be deemed a tenancy of month to month and applicable month to month fees shall apply.”

    Velez entered into a month-to-month tenancy after her one-year term expired; Hatcher entered into month-to-month tenancies, and, later, a nine-month agreement. K&D charged fees of $35.00 to $100.00 per month. CMHA did not treat these short-term rental fees as rent under the voucher program. Velez and Hatcher were required to pay the fees and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983.(1)

    The [lower] court granted CMHA summary judgment, holding that the fees were not rent.

    The Sixth Circuit reversed. Recasting the charge as a short-term fee, rather than rent, does not change that it is consideration paid by the tenant for use of the rental unit.
Source: Opinion Summary - Velez v. Cuyahoga Metro. Hous. Auth.

For the court ruling, see Velez v. Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, No. 14-3978 (6th Cir. July 30, 2015)

(1) Representing the Section 8 tenants was the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, a non-profit law firm providing free legal services to low-income people in Ohio in the counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Ashtabula, and Geauga.

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