Tenant-based Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, the Project-Based Section 8 program, and Public Housing are the largest and primary rental housing assistance programs for low-income families. This article focuses on evictions based on criminal activity for these three programs. Learn more about evictions in Section 8 and Public Housing.
For all three programs, certain forms of criminal activity by the tenant, any member of the household, a guest, or another person under the tenant’s control, may be grounds for eviction, including:
- any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents;
- any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of their residences by persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises;
- any drug-related criminal activity on or near the premises;
- a tenant fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody or confinement after conviction for a felony crime; or
- a tenant violating a condition of probation or parole.
Note that the authority to evict for drug-related activity is broader and includes activity that may have occurred off-premises. Also, a landlord may evict a family if a family member's alcohol abuse threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.
For public housing, if you or a family member or guest or someone under the tenant's control is involved in criminal activity, the housing authority does not have to provide you with a hearing before filing a breach of lease action in District Court. Neither do you have to be charged or convicted of a crime to be evicted for criminal activity.
Read your lease carefully. Your lease may state that:
- the landlord must consider certain mitigating circumstances to allow you and your family to remain in public housing, especially if the tenant has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the criminal activity;
- the housing authority has the discretion to allow the family to remain if the person committing the crime vacates the unit; and,
- the housing authority must give you the opportunity to challenge the accuracy and relevance of any police report upon which a lease termination is based (This means that the housing authority must give you a copy of the police report and offer you the opportunity to discuss the situation in a face-to-face meeting.).
The landlord may, but is not required to, consider all relevant circumstances before evicting a family, including:
- the seriousness of the offense;
- the effect on the community;
- whether the head-of-household participated in the criminal activity;
- the extent to which the head-of-household has shown personal responsibility;
- the effect of eviction on the family, the demand for assisted housing by lease-compliant families; and,
- the effect of the landlord's actions on the integrity of the section 8 program.
The owner, may, but is not required to allow the family to remain in the unit under the condition that the household member committing the criminal activity vacates. In determining whether to evict a family for illegal drug use or alcohol abuse, the landlord may, but is not required to, take into consideration that the offender is participating or has graduated from a supervised drug and/or alcohol program
In Baltimore City, all public housing leases include protections related to eviction based on criminal activity. If the housing authority sends you a letter advising you that your lease is terminated because of allegations of criminal activity, the housing authority must give you the opportunity to meet with one of its attorneys to discuss the situation.
Even if a crime has been committed by a family member, the housing authority in Baltimore City will consider a number of mitigating circumstances to allow the family to remain in public housing, including the seriousness of the offense, whether other family members participated in the crime, whether the head-of-household tried to discourage the crime, the effect an eviction would have on family members who did not participate in the crime, how long the family has resided in public housing, the family's tenant history, and whether the household includes young children and elderly or disabled individuals.
When you meet with the housing authority attorney to discuss the situation, and the housing authority decides to proceed with the eviction, at the court trial, the housing authority cannot bring up or disclose any admissions you made at the meeting.
For more information, review the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s Public Housing Admission & Continued Occupancy Policies (Approved October 18, 2022).
Read the regulations: U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 24 §966.4