Notice Issues for Section 8 Residents (Project-Based and Housing Choice Voucher Recipients)
By Brian Duncan
If you manage residential properties that participate in the Section 8 program, you are likely aware of the many complex federal regulations that apply to your business operations. Ensuring that you are in compliance with these regulations can be challenging to say the least. This is especially true during the termination process, which requires balancing federal regulations with applicable state laws. This blog addresses two common issues that can cause problems for housing providers attempting to navigate the eviction process for Section 8 Residents.
Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act
Federal regulations require that the Notice of Occupancy Rights under the Violence Against Women Act (the “VAWA Notice”) be provided to certain federally subsidized residents, including Section 8 residents, at specific times during their tenancy. The purpose of the VAWA Notice is to notify residents of their rights under the Violence Against Women Act so that survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking can seek the available protections under the Violence Against Women Act. Despite its name, the VAWA Notice applies to all Section 8 residents regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The VAWA Notice must be provided at the following times: i) at the time the applicant is denied assistance or admission under a covered housing program; ii) at the time individual is provided assistance or admission under the covered housing program; and iii) with any notification of eviction or notification of termination of assistance. The third instance is where housing providers most commonly face issues during the eviction process for Section 8 residents. The issues can occur either by failing to provide the VAWA Notice upon termination of the tenancy, or by not being able to verify that the VAWA Notice was provided upon termination. Some North Carolina courts have held that not providing the VAWA Notice to the resident with the notice of termination constitutes insufficient notice of termination, and it can lead to a dismissal of the eviction filing. To address this issue, housing providers attempting to terminate a Section 8 resident’s tenancy should ensure that the VAWA Notice is provided as an enclosure with the notice of termination. To help verify that they are taking this step, housing providers should include the following at the bottom of the notice of termination, “Encl. VAWA Notice – Form HUD-5380.” This will make it easier to show the court that the VAWA Notice was provided to the resident. Taking these small steps will eliminate this issue and better document your case for possession of the premises. .
Notice of Termination to the Public Housing Authority
For housing providers who lease to residents participating in the Section 8 Tenant Based Housing Choice Voucher Program, there is an additional requirement to successfully terminate a resident’s tenancy. Federal regulations require that a copy of the notice of termination provided to the resident must also be provided to the relevant Public Housing Authority. As such, housing providers should ensure that a copy of the notice of termination is provided to the Public Housing Authority, and to verify that this is done by carbon copying the Public Housing Authority on the notice of termination. For example, if the relevant Public Housing Authority is the Durham Housing Authority, a property manager would include the following at the bottom of the notice of termination, “Cc: Durham Housing Authority.” Along with this, the property manager should include the name of their contact person with the Public Housing Authority, if applicable, and the manner in which the copy of the notice of termination was provided. Taking these measures will reduce possible issues in eviction proceedings and eliminate many of the common arguments regarding notice to the resident.