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What to Do if You Get a Notice About Your Public Housing

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

Do you live in public housing? If so, you need to understand the rights and responsibilities that go along with it. This article will discuss what you should do if you get a notice about your public housing. 

There may be a time when you have problems with your apartment or with your lease. If there is a problem, the housing authority is required to give you a notice in writing. 

How do you know if you live in public housing?

You probably live in public housing if: 

  • Your unit is owned and operated by local Public Housing Agency (PHA). This means the PHA is your landlord and sets the amount of your housing subsidy; and

  • Your rent is subsidized and regulated by the federal government; and

  • You have to certify your income every year.

The housing authority must have good cause to evict you. 

When you live in public housing, the housing authority must have a good reason, or “good cause,” to end your lease. “Good cause” can mean a lot of different things, such as criminal activity or alcohol abuse, drug use, or not following your lease. There are a number of rules in your lease that you need to follow. If you do not follow all the rules, the housing authority may have “good cause” to end your lease as well. This can include not paying your rent, not updating the housing authority about your income, or having people live with you without the housing authority’s permission.

The housing authority must give you a written notice.

You will get a notice in writing. The notice must state the reason for ending the lease. The notice should give specific facts so you know why the housing authority wants to end your lease.

You have the right, in most cases, to try to fix the problem with the housing authority by having an informal meeting. You should ask for this informal meeting in writing. You need to make sure to read your notice carefully so you know how many days you have to request a meeting.

What happens if you can’t fix the problem?

If you cannot fix the issue after having a meeting with the housing authority, you can request a formal grievance hearing. You should request this in writing as well. The grievance hearing is held in front of a neutral decision maker. This person will hear both sides of the story and make a decision about what should happen in your case.

You have the right to review the housing authority’s records and documents about the problem and you have the right to ask questions of any witnesses that the housing authority has. You have the right to have a lawyer help you with the hearing and you can bring your own evidence and witnesses. The decision maker will provide you with a decision in writing. 

What if they still want to evict me?

If, after the grievance, the housing authority still wants to evict you, they must follow state law. An eviction is a court process. These cases are usually filed in small claims court. You would be served notice of the court case and you would have the opportunity to go to court and explain why you do not think you should be evicted.

If you get any notices from the housing authority or any court papers, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer right away. You may contact Iowa Legal Aid at 1-800-532-1275 to apply for free legal help.

Last Review and Update: Jun 18, 2013
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