Lehigh Valley Legal Services: Tenants' Rights

Your Rights in Public Housing

A. Eviction Procedure

If I Reside in Public Housing Can I Am Evicted?

Yes, but only if the Housing Authority has good cause. Good cause means a serious or repeated violation of any part of the lease or the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act. An example of this is nonpayment of rent.

What Are the Steps for An Eviction?

The Housing Authority must first notify you that they want to end your lease. This is your notice to quit. The notice must give the specific reasons that the Housing Authority wants to end your lease. The reasons should not only include the paragraphs of the lease you violated but also some specific description of the acts. If you disagree with the Housing Authority action to end your lease, you can request an informal settlement conference. (See Section B. Grievance Procedure).

How Many Days Before the Lease Ends Will I Receive Notice?

This depends on the reason for the eviction. If the eviction is for a person accused of a crime which affects the safety of others, then the Housing Authority need only give reasonable notice but not more than 30 days. If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, then the Housing Authority must give 10 days. For all other violations of the lease, the notice must be 30 days.

In What Manner Should I Receive This Notice?

The notice must be in writing. The Housing Authority can either deliver it to any adult of the household or send it by regular mail.

B. Grievance Procedure

What Is the Next Step After I Receive an Eviction Notice?

You should request an informal settlement conference. It is a meeting between you and the Executive Director of the Housing Authority or his/her agent to try to resolve the problem without having to go to Court. Basically, it will consist of you giving your side of the story and them giving theirs. You must be present at the conference. The housing authority agent will attempt to settle the grievance hopefully to your satisfaction.

How Do I Request an Informal Settlement Conference?

Within 15 days of receiving the notice that the Housing Authority wants to end your lease, you must ask at the Housing Authority office for an informal settlement conference. Put your request in writing.

Does Everyone Have a Right to An Informal Settlement Conference?

No. If you are being evicted because of committing a crime that affects the safety and enjoyment of other tenants or being involved with drugs, then you do not have a right to a conference.

Can I Review My File Before the Informal Settlement Conference?

Yes. You have a right to review and copy all documents and records which are important for the conference. The Housing Authority must make them available to you. You may have to pay for the copies.

What Happens After the Informal Settlement Conference?

You will be notified in writing of the results of the hearing. This decision will tell whether you and the Housing Authority were able to solve the problems which led to the conference. If the decision is agreeable to you and it solved the problem, then your lease will continue. If you disagree with the decision, you have a right to ask for a formal hearing.

What If I Do Not Like the Answer the Housing Authority Agent Gives Me?

You must give to the Main or Administrative Office of the Housing Authority a written request for a formal grievance hearing within 15 days of the decision of the informal settlement conference. The request must state the reason for the grievance and what you want to happen. If you do not ask for the formal grievance hearing within 15 days, the housing authority's answer will be final and you can now only fight the decision in Court. The Housing Authority will then have to start the eviction procedure under the Landlord Tenant Law.

What Happens If I File for A Formal Hearing?

The Housing Authority will schedule a formal hearing on the grievance at the earliest time possible. At this hearing, your housing manager, a hearing officer, and witnesses may be present. The Hearing Officer will be a person picked by the Housing Authority who has knowledge on housing issues. If you do not go, the Hearing Officer can decide against you.

What Happens After the Hearing?

The hearing officer will send you a written decision within 30 days after the hearing. The Housing Authority must follow the decision of the hearing officer.

If the Hearing Officer Agrees With the Housing Authority Decision, What Is Next?

The Housing Authority must serve you with a notice to leave. It must be in writing stating that if you do not leave within 30 days of the decision that legal action will be brought against you. If you lose, you may be responsible to pay court costs and the housing authority's attorneys' fee.

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?

You have a right to have a lawyer with you at the informal settlement conference and the formal hearing. Also, if you have any documents, photos, bills or witnesses who can defend you, please take them.

C. Section 8

Can I Be Evicted If I Am on Section 8 ?

Yes. A Section 8 landlord can seek to evict you for serious or repeated violations of the lease or for violation of the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant law, or other good cause. The landlord must give you written notice that he/she wants to end your lease and the reason why.

Can I Request an Informal Conference If My Landlord Is Trying to Terminate My Lease?

No. If you fail to move after the notice period has ended, then the Section 8 landlord can proceed to take you to Court.

If I Am Evicted Can I Lose My Section 8 Certificate?

Yes. The Housing Authority can try to end your Section 8 Certificate if:

  1. You violated the rules of the Section 8 program;
  2. You have committed fraud - for example, not reporting your correct income;
  3. You are involved in drug activity; or
  4. You did not pay a current debt owed to the Housing Authority as part of an agreement.

If I Want to Move to Another Unit Can I Am Denied?

Yes. You can be denied if you did not pay a current debt owed to the Housing Authority, you committed fraud, you are involved in drug activity, or you did not follow the Section 8 program rules.

If the Landlord Starts the Process to End My Lease Can the Housing Authority Stop Making Payments Or Refuse to Issue a New Certificate to Move?

No. A landlord's decision to evict is not a reason to end your eligibility or stop making the rental payments. The Housing Authority must continue to pay their portion of the rent.

What Happens If the Housing Authority Wants to End My Section 8 Certificate?

The Housing Authority must send you a written notice that your Section 8 certificate is ending. The notice will state that you have 15 days to request an informal settlement conference. (See Section B. Grievance Procedure).

The law often changes. Each case is different.
This pamphlet is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.