The following is general information about low-income housing programs and eviction policy. There are many different programs available that help tenants with low-incomes or special housing needs. Different regulations will apply to different programs, and sometimes tenants don’t know exactly which program they are participating in, or are a part of more than one program at a time. It can often be hard to know exactly what program a tenant is a part of and which regulations apply. In addition, being evicted from housing that is subsidized by the government may put your ability to stay in low-income housing programs at risk. It is best to consult an attorney to help navigate low-income housing evictions.
Most low-income housing programs have additional rules and policies that govern the eviction process. In some cases, tenants living in low-income housing have increased protections above and beyond what is offered in state law. For a complete look at low-income housing policy, see Subsidized Housing & Section 8.
Section 8 voucher holders do not have any additional protections against evictions, and receive the same eviction notices and go through the same eviction process as any tenant in Washington State. It is essential that voucher tenants remain in good communication with the public housing authority (PHA) that administers their voucher throughout the eviction process. Inform your PHA immediately if you are unable to pay your rent. Send copies of any correspondence between you and your landlord to the PHA so that they are made aware of any problems that arise between you and your landlord. PHA’s have the right to terminate your voucher if you are evicted from your residence, and most often they will assert that right without question. You can request a grievance hearing if your voucher is being terminated because of an eviction, unless you are being evicted for certain criminal offenses. If you believe you are being evicted illegally, you can raise any defenses against the voucher termination in the grievance hearing. You can bring in legal counsel to a grievance hearing as well. For a detailed discussion on grievance hearings, see Subsidized Housing & Section 8 and Section 8 Vouchers: Termination of Benefits. Your Section 8 voucher will likely be in jeopardy if you are evicted from your unit. Speak to an attorney for assistance if you are a Section 8 voucher holder facing eviction.
In some situations, if your landlord fails to bring your unit up to housing quality standards the PHA may reduce their portion of rent that they pay to the landlord in an “abatement” process. As long as you are current for the potion of rent you are responsible for the landlord may not evict you for non-payment of rent.
Low-Income Public Housing (LIPH) tenants may have a slightly different experience with the eviction process. In some cases, there may be different notice periods for tenants, and good cause is required to evict a tenant from public housing. However, LIPH tenants still go through the same court system and process as all tenants. The Public Housing Authority (PHA) that owns and manages your housing is responsible for following federal regulation that sets the standards for how public housing evictions are to be handled. If you are evicted from public housing, you will lose your opportunity to receive federally assisted low-income housing.
Grounds for termination of the lease in LIPH include non-payment of rent or other serious or repeated violation of the lease; crime that threatens health, safety or quiet enjoyment of other tenants in the building; drug-related activity on or nearby the complex, or other good cause. Evictions in public housing for non-payment of rent require 14 days’ notice, which may be given before the service of a 3-day notice to pay or vacate. In some cases, the 14-day notice to pay rent or vacate may come instead of a 3-day notice. Public housing tenants may also receive 10-day notices to comply or vacate, during which timeframe a grievance hearing may be requested. Health or safety threats require 3 days’ notice, and termination at the end of a lease and all other causes require 30 days’ notice for termination. It is possible that policies will differ in different PHAs. Speak to an attorney for more information and advice on your specific situation. Washington Law Help has detailed information at Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent in Public or Subsidized Housing, Public Housing Evictions and Public Housing Grievance Hearings.
Grievance hearings are also required for tenants facing eviction from public housing, except in the case of drug-related activity or activity that threatens health and safety. The PHA is still required to take a tenant facing eviction through a court process. For more detailed information on the grievance process, see Low-Income Housing Rights.
Housing and Urban Development or HUD housing is also known as project-based Section 8. See for more detail. HUD housing is multifamily complexes that are privately owned and subsidized by the federal government. Tenants can be evicted from HUD housing for non-compliance with the rental agreement or tenant duties under landlord-tenant law, failure to supply information necessary to certify income or other good cause. Landlords must follow the state law eviction process, except a tenant is entitled to 30 days notice when being asked to leave for other good cause.
Termination notices for tenants in HUD-subsidized housing must give tenants an opportunity to request a meeting with the owner of the building. The request must be made in writing within 10 days, and an owner’s failure to notify a tenant of their rights to such a meeting could be a defense in the eviction lawsuit. Read detailed information on HUD tenants’ rights in an eviction at Washington Law Help’s HUD Housing Evictions. For more information on HUD housing, see Low-Income Housing Rights and Section 8 Tenants Rights.
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program provides housing for low- to moderate-income renters in exchange for tax credits for the developers. Tenants living in tax credit buildings have good cause eviction protection statewide. LIHTC owners are prohibited from evicting residents or refusing to renew leases or rental agreements, other than for good cause. The termination notice must state good cause, and may include either a serious or repeated violation of the lease, crime or drug related activity, or failure to vacate following a condition that leaves the unit uninhabitable. Good cause is not clearly defined in tax credit policy, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. The notice of termination or non-renewal of lease must include a list of the specific good cause reasons for the action. The eviction process follows the procedures laid out in landlord-tenant law, but the tenant has the right to raise good cause eviction protection in court as a defense against an eviction if they believe they were evicted for non-good cause reasons. See Eviction Process for more details, and speak to an attorney for information and advice on your situation.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.