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Housing Authority v. Torres

Decided: August 4, 1976.

HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF PASSAIC, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JULIO TORRES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Kole and Larner. The opinion of the court was delivered by Larner, J.A.D.

Larner

This is an appeal from a judgment of possession in a summary dispossess action based upon nonpayment of rent for the month of August 1975. Execution of the warrant of removal was stayed pending this appeal.

Defendant was a tenant in a public housing project owned and operated by the Housing Authority of the City of Passaic pursuant to the provisions of the United States Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.A. ยง 1401 et seq. The Authority is financed in part by the Federal Government through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is therefore subject to the federal statutes relating to HUD and the rules and regulations of that agency.

At the commencement of the rental defendant paid a monthly rent of $124 which was calculated on the basis of 25% of his income in accordance with the legislation applicable to such housing. Defendant continued to pay that sum monthly until July 1975 when he became disabled and

unemployed. Thereafter he and his family depended on income from other sources which would have permitted a maximum monthly rental of $74 under the 25% statutory formula.

The record reflects the undisputed facts that defendant's income was reduced to the extent stated and that he notified the Authority of this in the middle of July 1975. The sole point of disagreement between the parties is whether the Authority was compelled to make an interim adjustment of rent in the month following notification of the reduction in income or whether it can legally apply its local policy of regular rental reexaminations at an initial interval of 18 months and every 12 months thereafter.

Nothing was presented to the trial judge by way of statute or HUD regulations which mandated a monthly interim rent adjustment. As a consequence the judge entered a judgment of possession on uncontradicted proof of failure of defendant to pay the subsisting rent.

For the first time on appeal defendant submits and relies upon HUD Circular RHM 7465 dated 4/24/1970 and distributed to all Housing Authorities within its jurisdiction in the form of questions and answers as follows:

INTERIM ADJUSTMENTS OF RENT

14. Q. After the initial adjustment of tenants' rents, is it necessary to make interim adjustments in rent based on reports by tenants of decreases in their family income?

A. Yes. Interim adjustments will be necessary for tenants affected by the 25% statutory limitation on rents. Any tenant who has a decrease in income and who applies for a decrease in his rent shall be given an appropriate adjustment, and until the ...


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