Resident Gets Another Chance to Fight Eviction for Hoarding

Last month, a state court in New York overturned a ruling that would have forced a resident to move out because of an alleged hoarding problem. The community, which received a project-based Section 8 subsidy, filed the case, but proceedings were delayed several times to give the resident more time to clean up the unit. Ultimately, the parties agreed to a settlement requiring the resident to move out unless the unit passed an inspection on a specific date, in which event he could remain for another six weeks.

Sometime later, the resident asked the court to set aside the settlement and allow him to stay. Among other things, he claimed that the unit had passed the inspection so he thought that he could stay there; he also alleged that he was entitled to reasonable accommodations under federal fair housing law. The court refused his request.

On appeal, a court reversed on procedural grounds, ruling that the resident’s lawyer may have negotiated the settlement without knowing that the resident stood to lose his Section 8 subsidy. At this stage of the proceedings, the court declined to consider the resident’s reasonable accommodation claim [Park Properties Associates, L.P. v. Williams, November 2012].

Disputes over hoarding problems often give rise to fair housing complaints, but communities can fend off such claims.For a recent example, see the COACH’s recent Special Issue, “How Communities Successfully Defend Fair Housing Claims in Court,” available on our homepage or in our online Archive.