I Was Evicted from Section 8 Housing

I Was Evicted from Section 8 Housing

Last updated: November 2012

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An eviction from Section 8 housing is serious because it will usually lead to termination of federal Section 8 rental assistance. It is important to know your rights, which will help you understand how to fight an eviction from Section 8 housing.Your landlord may evict you for any violation of the lease if you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. You may only be evicted from project-based Section 8 housing if your landlord has "good cause" for evicting you such as:Non-payment of rent;Serious or repeated violations of the terms of the lease;Drug-related criminal activity on or near the property;Certain other criminal activity;A history of disturbance of neighbors or damage to the property;Having people not listed on your lease live with you;Providing false information to the Housing Authority;“Other good cause” - These are reasons that may not be in your lease. Your landlord has to warn you that something you are doing is “other good cause” for eviction before trying to evict you. If you live in Chicago, this warning may give you the opportunity to fix the problem.Click on words that appear like 'this' to learn what these words mean.Are the rules for evictions different if I don’t live in Section 8 housing? Yes. Evictions from non-Section 8 housing have a different set of rules and procedures. This Guide Me is for Section 8 tenants. For more information on being evicted from non-Section 8 housing, such as public and private housing, please see the “Related Articles” section.What is the difference between the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and project-based Section 8 assistance? In both types of housing, tenants pay rent based on their income. The Housing Authority pays the difference between what the tenant pays and what the owner actually charges for rent. Tenants with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers:Find a unit in the private market where the owner is willing to participate in the Section 8 programAre allowed to move to another place with their voucher at the end of the lease, if they chooseTenants living in Section 8 project-based assistance:Live in units where the owners of the project-based Section 8 housing have an agreement with the housing authority to accept payments equal to the difference between what the tenant pays and the total rent for the unitWill lose their Section 8 assistance if they choose to move to another place at the end of a leaseThe rules for evicting you from Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and project-based housing are sometimes different. These differences are discussed in the answers to the following Common Questions.For what reasons can I be evicted from both types of Section 8 housing? Your landlord may evict you for any violation of the lease if you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. You may only be evicted from project-based Section 8 housing if your landlord has "good cause" for evicting you such as:Non-payment of rent;Serious or repeated violations of the terms of the lease;Drug-related criminal activity on or near the property;Certain other criminal activity;A history of disturbance of neighbors or damage to the property;Having people not listed on your lease live with you;Providing false information to the Housing Authority;“Other good cause” - These are reasons that may not be in your lease. Your landlord has to warn you that something you are doing is “other good cause” for eviction before trying to evict you. If you live in Chicago, this warning may give you the opportunity to fix the problem.You may not be evicted from either project-based Section 8 housing or if you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher for any of the following reasons: Because you complained about the conditions in your home; orBecause of race/ethnicity/national origin, age, family status, disability, or military status.You should talk to a lawyer if you think you are being evicted for any of these reasons. Please see the “Find Legal Help” section for legal aid organizations in your area.Can my landlord decide not to renew my lease for any reason other than “good cause”? It depends on whether you live in Section 8 project-based housing or have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher:Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher - Your landlord does not need good cause for not renewing your lease after the first year of the lease.Project-based Section 8 Housing - Your landlord must have the same good cause for deciding not to renew your lease as they would need to evict you. Can I be evicted for another person’s drug-related criminal activity? Yes. You can be evicted from Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher housing and project-based Section 8 housing for another person’s drug-related criminal activity.Your landlord can evict you for drug-related criminal activity done by you, a member of your household, or a guest, if it happens on or near the property. What other criminal activity can cause me to be evicted? Both with a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and in project-based Section 8 housing, you can be evicted: For any criminal activity which threatens the health or safety of others, or which continually disturbs others (this activity can be done by you, a member of your household, or a guest);For fleeing to avoid prosecution, confinement, or imprisonment for a felony; orIf you violated a condition of your probation or parole.Can my landlord evict me for criminal activity that I did not know about? Yes. You can be evicted from both Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher housing and project-based Section 8 housing for the criminal activity of a member of your household or a guest, even if you knew nothing about it.Does there have to be an arrest or conviction for me to be evicted for criminal activity? No. An arrest or conviction is not necessary for you to be evicted for criminal activity in either project-based Section 8 housing or if you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, but your landlord must still have proof that the activity occurred. Your landlord only has to show that it is more likely than not that the criminal activity happened. If your landlord can show the activity happened, then you will need to show that the activity didn’t happen. What are the different types of eviction notices? In both Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and project-based Section 8 housing, your landlord must give you written notice before evicting you. The notice must state in detail the reason for the eviction. There are three primary types of notice:5 Day Notice – Used when you have not paid the rent 10 Day Notice – Used for violating the lease30 Day Notice – Used for “other good cause” or if you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and your lease expires and your landlord does not want to renew your leaseThe notice period begins the day after you or someone over the age of 13 living in your home receives the notice. If the last day of the notice period falls on a weekend or holiday, it ends on the next business day.If you live outside of the City of Chicago and receive a 10- or 30-day notice, your landlord can file a lawsuit to have you removed from your home, even if you tried to fix the lease violation. If you were served a 5-day notice for failure to pay rent, you can still pay the full rent payment during those 5 days to avoid eviction.If you live in the City of Chicago and the building you live in:Has more than 6 units; orHas 6 or less units and your landlord does not live on the property, you can pay your rent or fix the lease violation after you receive any kind of notice to avoid eviction.How does my landlord evict me? In both Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher housing and project-based Section 8 housing, your landlord must follow certain rules when evicting you. They must:Give you a written eviction notice;Wait for the period of time given on the notice to end. If you live in the City of Chicago, this may give you time to fix the lease violation before your landlord files an eviction case.File a case against you in court;Serve you with a summons to appear in court;Allow you to have your day in court and the opportunity to participate in your defense;Get an order from a judge evicting you from your home;Ask the Sheriff’s Department to carry out the judge’s eviction order if you have not already moved out.How should I get an eviction notice? If you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher or live in project-based Section 8 housing, you should get notice in one of the following ways:The landlord can give it to you in person;The landlord can give it to someone over the age of 13 living in your home;The landlord can mail it to you by first-class mail; orIf you no longer live in the unit, the landlord can post it to your door.How can I immediately stop the eviction? Whether you live in project-based Section 8 housing or have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, it depends on what kind of notice you received:5 day notice - If you received a 5 day notice for not paying the rent, you can stop the eviction by paying the full amount due within the 5 days.10 day notice - In some cities, like Chicago, if you received a 10 day notice for a violation of the lease, you can stop the eviction by fixing the violation. You should provide the landlord with proof that you have fixed the violation. For example, if you are being evicted due to cleanliness issues, you can provide photos showing that you have cleaned your apartment. What happens if I am not immediately able to stop the eviction? At the end of the notice period, the landlord can file a case to get an order from a judge to evict you. You will receive a summons telling you when and where you will need to go to court, and a complaint telling you what the landlord is asking for.The landlord cannot have you removed from your home until the judge signs an order to evict you.How will I receive a summons telling me I have to go to court? Generally, the Sheriff’s Department or a person appointed by the court has to serve you with a summons in one of two ways:By leaving the summons with you personally, orBy leaving the summons with someone over the age of 13 that lives in your homeThe summons must be served at least 3 days before you are scheduled to appear in court.If the Sheriff has made several attempts, but is unable to serve you, the Court may allow the landlord to serve you by posting the summons.Do I need to do anything before going to court? Yes. You will need to do the following before you go to court:You need to fill out an appearance form and file it with the court clerk by the date provided on the summons. You will also need to send a copy to your landlord’s lawyer. This is a form telling the landlord and court that you will be responding to the lawsuit. If you do not file an appearance form by the due date, and you do not appear in court on the first return court date, the judge will enter a default judgment against you and automatically evict you. For more information about filing an appearance, including where to find forms, please see Filing Your Appearance Form and Answer.You have the right to a jury trial. If you want your case to be heard by a jury if it goes to trial, then you must also file a request for a jury trial. This is called a "jury demand." For more information about requesting a jury trial, please see Filing Your Appearance Form and Answer. There are usually fees to file court papers. If you cannot afford them, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. For information on how to do this, please see Filing Court Papers for Free.Additionally, you may want to talk to a lawyer before you file any court papers, especially if you plan to request a jury trial, or if you also face criminal charges for the same reasons your landlord is trying to evict you. You can find a lawyer in the “Find Legal Help” section.What are defenses to an eviction? There are many defenses to an eviction that you can use in court. The most common defenses to an eviction are:You do not owe the amount of money that the landlord claims you owe;You paid all the rent before the notice expired;You were not properly given the notice to terminate your lease;You did not violate the terms of your lease. For example, the landlord may be trying to evict you because they claim you had a loud party, but you were not at home on that date and no one was in your apartment;The landlord is illegally discriminating against you;The landlord is evicting you because you complained to the city or county about the conditions in your home, and your landlord was cited for violations.What happens in court? You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in court. You may be able to find a lawyer in the “Find Legal Help” section.Make sure to show up on time for court. If you don’t, the judge may decide to evict you without giving you the chance to tell your side of the story, and enter a default judgment against you. You should sit down inside the courtroom and wait for your case to be called. When the case is called, you should approach the bench (where the judge sits), give your name, and let the judge know you are the tenant. You should always be polite and courteous to the judge and other court staff.In some counties, the first court date will be the actual trial. In other counties, the judge will schedule the trial for a later date. Please contact your local Circuit Court Clerk to find out how it is done in your county.At trial, both sides will get the chance to tell their story. You can present your defense, showing why you should not be evicted. You should bring the following with you:Any notice that the landlord has sent you;Any witnesses to support your case; andAny letters, records, payment receipts, objects, or photographs that support your case.The judge or jury will make their decision whether or not to evict you.If I lose at trial and the judge issues an order to evict me, do I have to move out immediately? It depends, but probably not. The judge will often give you additional time to move out, usually between 7 and 14 days. If you have not moved out at the end of this period, the landlord can have the Sheriff force you to leave the unit. Read the eviction notice Read the eviction notice carefully. Make sure you understand why your landlord is trying to evict you. Make sure you understand how much time you have before the landlord can file a case to evict you.See if it is a problem you can fix before the notice period is up.Pay your rent or fix the violation. To immediately stop the eviction, you can:Pay the rent before the 5 day notice period is up;If you live in Chicago, fix the violation of the lease before the 10 day notice period is up. See if you have any defenses to eviction. There are many defenses which you can use in court. See the "Common Question" section for a list of some defenses;You should prepare any evidence that may help your case, such as documents or photos;You should speak with witnesses who can support your case and ask them to go to court.Read your summons. If you are unable to pay the rent or fix the violation, your landlord will need to file a case to evict you. You will receive a summons telling you when and where you need to go to court, and a complaint telling you what your landlord is asking for. Read them carefully.File the necessary court forms. You will need to fill out an appearance form and file it with the court clerk by the date provided on the summons. You will also need to send a copy to your landlord’s lawyer. This form tells the landlord and court that you will be responding to the lawsuit. For more information on filing an appearance form, please see Filing Your Appearance Form and Answer.Allow yourself plenty of time to file the necessary forms because the lines at the courthouse may be long. File the forms as soon as possible, but at least 24 hours before court. Even if you can't file them in advance, you should still show up to court.You have the right to a jury trial. If you want your case to be heard by a jury, you must file a request for a jury trial. This is called a "jury demand." For more information about requesting a jury trial, please see Responding to a Lawsuit.There are fees to file court papers. If you cannot afford them, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. For information on how to do this, please see Filing Court Papers for Free.Additionally, you may want to talk to a lawyer before you file any court papers, especially if you plan to request a jury trial. You can find a lawyer in the "Find Legal Help" section. Go to court. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in court. You may find a lawyer in the “Helpful Organizations” section.Make sure to show up on time for court. If you don’t, the judge may decide to evict you without giving you a chance to be heard.You should sit down inside the courtroom and wait for your case to be called. When your case is called, you should immediately approach the bench, give your name, and let the judge know you are the tenant.In some counties, the first court date will be the actual trial. In other counties, the judge will schedule the trial for a later date. Please contact your local Circuit Court Clerk to find out how it is done in your county.You can present your defenses. You should bring the following with you:Any notice that your landlord has sent youAny witnesses to support your caseAny letters, records, payment receipts, objects, or photographs that support your caseThe judge or jury will make their decision whether or not to evict you.

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