Section 8 Special Restrictions On Lease Termination
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Section 8 Tenancies require the landlord and tenant to execute a Housing Assistance Payment Contract. Such contracts are regulated under Federal Law, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations Title 24, Section 982.310 Owner Termination of Tenancy. This section provides that a Landlord can only terminate a Section 8 Tenancy for 3 reasons: (1) Serious Violation: failure to pay rent or repeated violations of the lease terms. (2) Violations of Law by tenant in relation to the occupancy of the leased premises. (3) Other Good Cause and that the landlord provide the tenant and Section 8 with a notice of termination

The Regulation further interprets these reasons as follows:

(1) Serious Violation: failure to pay rent or repeated violations of the lease terms. Failure of Section 8 to pay the rent does NOT permit the landlord to evict the tenant.

(2) Violations of Law by tenant in relation to the occupancy of the leased premises.

(a) Drug Activity : To evict the tenant for drug related activity on or about the premises, the lease must state that “drug related criminal activity engaged in, on or near the premises by any tenant, household member, or guest, or such activity engaged in by any other person under the tenant’s control, is grounds for the landlord to terminate the tenancy.” In addition the lease must provide that “the owner may evict a family when the owner determines that a household member is illegally using a drug or when the owner determines that a pattern of illegal use of a drug interferes with the health, safety, or fight to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.”

(b) Other Criminal Activity: if stated in the lease, the following may also be grounds to terminate the tenancy:

(i) Threats to other residents: Any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants or persons in the immediate vicinity of the premises, or any violent criminal activity by a tenant, member of the tenant’s household, or a guest of the tenant.

(ii.) Fugitive: If the tenant is a fugitive from a felony charge or conviction or is in violation of parole.

(iii) Evidence of Criminal Activity: If the landlord determines that the tenant has engaged in criminal activity, even if the tenant has not been arrested or convicted. The landlord is not required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

(3) Other Good Cause: During the initial lease term the landlord may NOT terminate the tenancy for “other good cause” unless it is something that the tenant did or failed to do. For example the landlord may not terminate the lease in the first lease term for failure of the tenant to agree to a lease revision, because the landlord wants to use the leased premises himself, or for a business or economic reason such as the sale of the property, the renovation of the property, or desire to re-let the property at a higher rent.

Good cause for termination of tenancy may include but is not limited to: (1) Failure of the tenant to renew the lease. (2) A history of disturbances of neighbors, destruction of property, or living habits resulting in damages to the premises.

Notice Requirements: The landlord is required to issue a written notice of lease termination to the tenant and the Section 8 in order to terminate the tenancy. This notice is in addition to any notices required by Florida Law. The landlord must comply with both the Federal and State Notice requirements in order to terminate the tenancy. For example in a recent Broward County case, [Delisser v. Hatcher 11 Fla.L.Week Supp 1096] the landlord issued the tenant two 30 Day Notices to Vacate. The first stated that the landlord was terminating in order to sell the subject premises. The second stating that the landlord was terminating the lease for “habitual late and non-payment of rent.” Unfortunately for the landlord, the Court ruled that Federal Law prohibited the landlord from terminating during the first lease term in order to sell the property. Regarding the second notice, the Court ruled that although the notice complied with the Federal Law, it did not comply with the requirements for a 3-Day Notice as provided under Florida Statutes Section 83.56 (3). Consequently the judge dismissed the landlord’s eviction action and entered a judgment against the landlord for the tenant’s attorney fees. You can’t be too careful !


About the Author
Alexander Johnson runs a landlord tenant and real property law practice in Fort Lauderdale. He was a prosecutor for 7 years and has been in private practice for 8 years. He can be reached at 954-779-7050.

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