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HUD Housing Evictions

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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As a tenant whose landlord has a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you have more protection against evictions than usual. This briefly explains your rights, and things you can do to avoid an eviction. #6103EN

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Should I read this?

*HUD subsidizes different projects under different programs whose rules can vary. For the best advice about your situation, contact CLEAR. (See end for contact info.)

As a tenant whose landlord has a contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you have more protection against evictions than usual. This briefly explains your rights, and things you can do to avoid an eviction.

*If the landlord evicts you, you will lose your federal housing assistance.

When can my landlord evict me?

Depending on which program funds your apartment building, your landlord can only end your tenancy for

A. "Material noncompliance" with the rental agreement.  This includes:

  • A serious violation of your lease

  • Repeated minor lease violations that disrupt the project, affect anyone’s health/safety, interfere with the management, or have a negative financial impact on the apartment complex

  • Failure to report changes in your family size or income

  • Nonpayment of rent

B. Material failure to carry out your responsibilities under the Washington Residential Landlord - Tenant Act.

C. Criminal activity threatening others’ health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises OR the health or safety of any on-site property management staff, and any drug-related activity on or near the premises.

D. Other good cause. Your lease may hold you responsible for any drug-related criminal activity of any household member, guest, or other people acting under your control.  

Does my landlord have to give me written notice that they are evicting me?

Yes. The notice must state:

  • when your tenancy will end

  • the reasons, in enough detail so you can prepare a defense

  • what you did

  • when you did it

  • who else was involved

  • how this violated your lease

  • that, if you do not move, your landlord can only remove you from your apartment by bringing a lawsuit and you will have a chance to defend yourself

  • that you may meet with your landlord to discuss the matter

*If your landlord brings an unlawful detainer action (eviction lawsuit) against you, they can only use the reasons in the eviction notice.

How must I get this notice?

Your landlord must mail the notice to you by first-class mail. They must also hand a copy to any adult answering your door. If no adult is home, the landlord must leave a copy of the notice under your door, if possible, or post it on the door.

*Service is only complete when the landlord has both mailed and delivered the notice to your apartment.

I got an eviction notice. What should I do?

You should immediately set up a meeting with the landlord to discuss the notice and what you can do to fix any lease violations. Make your meeting request in writing. Keep a copy for proof that you gave it to the landlord within the deadline in the eviction notice.

*If the landlord refuses to meet with you, you can raise this as a defense in court. 

You should also ask to see your file and copy any documents related to the dispute. These might include:

  • your lease

  • written complaints

  • termination notices

  • rent payment history

  • inspection reports

  • notes of conversations

  • witness statements

  • police reports

Should I try hard to settle this matter without going to court?

Yes! Lawsuits are risky. It is better to avoid an eviction lawsuit before it starts than to defend one after it has started. To avoid losing your federal housing assistance, it is often better to settle your case rather than leave the decision to a court.

I could not settle my eviction at the meeting. Can the landlord evict me now?

No. Your landlord must file a lawsuit and get a court order before evicting you from your apartment. Your landlord has no right to lock you out, shut off your utilities, or otherwise remove you or your things from your apartment without a court order. Immediately call the cops or sheriff, and then a lawyer, if your landlord:

  • tries to illegally evict you OR

  • takes your belongings

The landlord has served me with an unlawful detainer action. Should I move out right away?

Do not move without first talking with a lawyer. The landlord may delay filing an eviction lawsuit due to the expense. They may reject your rent in the hope you will move on your own. 

*If you move now, you will definitely lose your federal housing assistance!

Keep paying your rent, unless you move. If your landlord rejects your rent, set the funds aside to pay your rent later. Do not spend your rent money, except to move.

How do I respond to a Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer?

*You must act immediately to avoid an eviction.

Always serve at least a copy of a Notice of Appearance on the lawyer representing your landlord by the deadline stated in the Summons. You may also have to file other papers, pay rent to the Court Clerk, and appear for a hearing. If you do not respond in writing or follow the other instructions in the Summons and any accompanying orders, you may lose without a court hearing (“by default”).

*Eviction and Your Defense explains how to avoid eviction and defend the lawsuit.  

Is it too late to try to settle once the landlord has filed in court?

Maybe not, if you will agree to sign a written settlement agreement. It should say what you must do to keep your tenancy. It will usually authorize your landlord to evict you if you violate the settlement agreement.
As a condition of settlement, your landlord may ask you to pay some of their court costs and attorney’s fees. Paying these may be better than risking losing your housing assistance.

Do not enter into a settlement agreement you do not understand or cannot obey. A settlement agreement is a binding contract. The court will usually enforce the agreement despite any hardship to you.

*Contact your local Dispute Resolution Center. Find out if it can help mediate your dispute with your landlord.

The landlord will not settle now. What can I do?

If the landlord will not negotiate a reasonable settlement at this stage, your options are:

  • fight the lawsuit

  • move and give up your federal housing assistance

If possible, discuss your options with a lawyer before moving.

How do I represent myself in court?

Make sure the court understands you live in a HUD-subsidized apartment. Show the judge a copy of your lease. The lease describes when the landlord can evict you. 

*Eviction and Your Defense has forms and instructions to help you defend yourself in court.

I lost the court case. Now what?

The court

  • Issues a Writ of Restitution requiring you to move.

  • Enters a judgment against you for unpaid rent, court costs and attorney's fees.

*The landlord has at least ten years to try to collect the judgment. Debtor's Rights in a Lawsuit has more info.

The Sheriff's office will deliver the Writ of Restitution to you personally or post it on your door one or two days after the court enters the judgment. The Sheriff must enforce the Writ within ten days after the court issues it, but no sooner than three to five days after the Sheriff delivers/posts it. The Sheriff will let you know when you must move and the date the sheriff will return if you do not move.

If you are still there when the sheriff returns, the sheriff will supervise the removal of you and your things. They may threaten you with arrest or arrest you if you try to interfere.

 

 
6103EN

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. 
This information is current as of October 2017.

© 2017 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014

(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial use only.)

Last Review and Update: Oct 31, 2017
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