In writing these blog entries, your humble editor tries to avoid legal jargon and responses that don’t give clear answers. Unfortunately, this post will be one that breaks my general rules. I was asked recently, can management simply non-renew a resident?
First, the rules with respect to non-renewals are different for conventional and affordable communities. At a conventional community, management has the right to non-renew a resident — provided the non-renewal is not based on discrimination. For example, a property would violate the law if it issued non-renewal notices to all (or any) of its Jewish residents because of their religion. Before non-renewing any resident, however, I always advise management to have documented the file to ensure we can demonstrate the reason behind the non-renewal decision. We may never be asked to do so, but it is the better practice to be prepared just in case a question is raised.
At affordable properties, the rules are a little different. To be clear, if a resident causes a direct threat to the community, its residents, or our management team, the leasing office staff will attempt to terminate a lease. Also, if a resident fails to complete the annual recertification paperwork, it is likely that the government assistance will be terminated (which will result in the rent rising to the regular, market rate which most likely the resident cannot afford to pay). However, in practice — provided a resident at an affordable community follows the House Rules and ensures his or her recertification paperwork is timely done, it is not practicable to even attempt to non-renew.
Also, management at any property cannot non-renew a resident because he or she filed a previous fair housing complaint. Such an action would be retaliation — which is also against the law.
Finally, if you non-renew a resident — be prepared for what may happen next. While many times the resident will voluntarily leave, I have seen some residents who simply hold over and require management to go to court.
Just a thought.