Should a Landlord Directly Collect Rent from a Section 8 Tenant if the Housing Authority Discontinues Provision of Rent Due to Uninhabitable Property Issues?
Section 8 tenant and the landlord are bonded by a legal agreement under which the local housing authority takes the responsibility of paying major share of the tenant’s rent. However, this depends upon the condition of the property apart from several other aspects. The rental unit is inspected by the housing authority in order to assess whether it meets the habitability standards set by the federal government.
If a deficiency is identified and the landlord fails to correct it according to the governmental criterion then the housing authority will stop paying Section 8 rent payments to the landlord. In such a scenario the landlord demands full payment of rent from the tenant and it is quite possible that the tenant doesn’t comply with this demand but retains possession of the property.
The landlord can seek removal of the tenant from the property and demand recovery of full rent payment directly citing the reason that tenant violated the rental agreement because Section 8 rent payments were ceased by the housing authority.
In response to the landlord’s claim, tenant can come up with a counter claim that he or she is not responsible for full payment of rent because the landlord forfeited the Section 8 rent payments by failing to provide habitable conditions at the rental unit.
As per the holding from California Court of Appeals, the landlord cannot collect rent directly from the tenant or get the tenant removed because of not ensuring provision of habitable living conditions. The landlord is held responsible for the subnormal residential conditions of the property and therefore the cessation of the Section 8 rent payments from the housing authority was justified.
How a landlord deals with collecting Section 8 rent payments depends upon the exact circumstances of the tenancy with habitability issues being high on the list of tenant grievances that can determine the manner in which Section 8 rent payments must be handled.
[Scott v. Kaiuum (December 7, 2016) _CA4th_]
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