This is a summary dispossess action instituted by landlord Ivy Hill Park Apartments pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 against tenant Margaret Martin.
The question herein is whether, under § 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437f, a landlord can refuse to renew a § 8 subsidy lease, and consequently whether, upon
the facts presented, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 may be invoked (when there's a nonpayment of rent) to evict the tenant.
The facts here can be briefly summarized. Ivy Hill Park apartments is an apartment complex in Newark, New Jersey. Martin has lived in a single unit of this apartment complex under a valid lease since July of 1983. Martin is a public assistance recipient and became eligible for a rent subsidy from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) under the § 8 housing program of the National Housing Act.
Under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437f, the Department of Community Affairs of New Jersey (D.C.A.) acts as a conduit of H.U.D. for the payment of the subsidy. Martin's rent is $371 a month. Martin pays $69 a month, and the balance of $302 is paid by H.U.D. through D.C.A. to Ivy Hill. In order for the landlord to be paid each month by H.U.D., several forms must be filled out by the landlord for each and every § 8 tenant. Ivy Hill Park apartments has approximately two hundred units which receive § 8 subsidies. Ivy Hill refuses to cooperate and the § 8 payment was terminated resulting in an inability on the tenant's part to pay the full rent. The landlord asks for possession for this "nonpayment" of rent. It asks for possession on other grounds as well.
In May 1984 Martin received a notice to cease from Ivy Hill alleging that Martin had kept three dogs in her apartment in violation of the lease agreement, and that these dogs had damaged the apartment and adjoining hallway. Although not established on the record on what date the dogs were removed from the premises, as of this court date, the testimony established that the dogs were no longer in the apartment. In June 1985 Ivy Hill issued another notice to cease alleging that Martin had violated her lease agreement by being unduly noisy. No follow-up action was ever taken by Ivy Hill with respect to this noise issue and the testimony revealed that this alleged violation was no longer a problem, i.e., the notices worked; the
violations ceased. It was on the same June day that the second notice to cease was delivered that Martin received a letter stating that Ivy Hill was not going to renew her § 8 lease upon the expiration of the current lease on July 31, 1985. On direct examination the manager of Ivy Hill, Ms. Hammer, testified that Ivy Hill was phasing out the § 8 tenancies. Ms. Hammer testified that other § 8 tenants in the future would receive similar notices upon the expiration of their § 8 leases. The testimony of Ms. Hammer, however, was that she did not know if other § 8 tenants' leases were in fact renewed or terminated after Martin received her § 8 nonrenewal notice.
Ivy Hill did not fill out or send in the § 8 subsidy forms for Martin and demanded Martin pay the full amount of rent totalling $371 a month. Martin offered to pay her § 8 share of $69 a month but this was refused by Ivy Hill. Additionally, Ivy Hill did not offer Martin a new written lease. At the beginning of these proceedings, Martin deposited $276 with the court clerk representing her § 8 share of the rent for the months of July, August, September and October.
Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437, was promulgated to assist states and their political subdivisions to provide safe and adequate housing for lower income families. At the same time, the act sought to vest the maximum amount of responsibility for the administration of this program in the states and their political subdivisions. See 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437. D.C.A. acts as the conduit for H.U.D. in the § 8 landlord-tenant relationship.
Section 8 is a subsidy program whereby the D.C.A. through H.U.D. pays a subsidy of the tenant's rent to the landlord. The tenant, in turn, pays the remaining balance of the rent to the landlord. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1437f(c)(1). In order for the landlord to be paid by D.C.A., the landlord must fill out and send in the necessary forms. To be eligible for ...