- What are the housing authority's obligations under the lease?
- When can a housing authority employee enter my apartment?
What are the housing authority's obligations under the lease?
Every public housing lease must include a listing of the housing authority's obligations to you as their tenant.1 These obligations include the following:
- Maintaining a decent, safe, and sanitary apartment.
- Complying with the State Sanitary Code, building codes, and other state and federal laws and regulations regarding the health and safety of tenants. (To find out what the State Sanitary Code requires, see the .)
- Maintaining the utilities, appliances, water services, and elevators that are required to be supplied by the housing authority.
- Providing the utilities that the lease says the housing authority (and not the tenant) is responsible for providing.
- Maintaining the common areas of the complex.
- Making necessary repairs to your unit within a reasonable time after being notified of the problem.
- Giving you at least 48 hours notice that the housing authority workers are coming into your apartment to inspect or make repairs.
- Giving you reasonable notice if the housing authority needs to enter your apartment to deal with an emergency. If there is no adult household member present when housing authority staff comes in, they must leave you a written notice that tells when and why they came into your apartment.
- Notifying you in writing of the specific grounds or reasons for any action the housing authority plans to take that would adversely affect you, including terminating your lease, transferring your family to another unit, or charging you for maintenance work and repairs done by the housing authority.2
- Informing you of your right to a grievance hearing if you disagree with something the housing authority is doing or failing to do.3
- Respecting your right to organize or join a tenant association.
State public housing
State public housing leases will also require the housing authority to do the following:
- Provide you with a working stove when you move in.
- Provide you with keys for rekeyed locks when you move in.
- Redetermine your rent promptly at the time of the annual redetermination and at the time of any interim redetermination.
- Provide reasonable extermination services.
- Keep your records confidential, to the extent possible as required by law.
- Process transfer applications and requests to add household members promptly.
- Provide appropriate assistance to a household member who is a victim of domestic violence, including prompt rekeying of locks.
- Provide, upon your request, copies of the housing authority’s rules, regulations, and policies that affect the tenancy (the housing authority can charge you for these copies if you have already received a copy).
- Begin eviction proceedings against a tenant whose behavior has jeopardized the health and safety of another tenant.
Federal public housing
Federal public housing leases will also require the housing authority to:
- Provide and maintain enough garbage and waste receptacles.
- Provide all notices to you in writing and deliver them by hand or mail.
- Provide all notices in an accessible format if the tenant is visually impaired.4
When can a housing authority employee enter my apartment?
The rules for when a housing authority employee can enter your apartment depend on whether you live in federal or state public housing and whether the housing authority employee is entering your apartment because of an emergency, to do a routine inspection, or to make repairs. The circumstances under which a housing authority employee can enter your apartment are controlled by federal and state regulations and should be spelled out in your lease.
State public housing
If you live in state public housing, you must allow a housing authority employee to enter your apartment during reasonable hours to:
- perform inspections or routine maintenance, or
- make repairs or do maintenance that you have requested.5
If the housing authority is performing inspections or routine maintenance, it must give you 48 hours notice before it sends a worker into the apartment (unless you and the housing authority agree to a specific time that they may enter).
If the housing authority is making repairs that you requested, it must give you reasonable notice and, whenever possible, should give you notice at least the day before entering your apartment (unless you and the housing authority agree to a specific time that they may enter).
If there is an emergency, the housing authority must give you whatever reasonable notice they can in light of the emergency. This means they could enter your apartment without giving you any notice, whether you are home or not. If there is no adult home when the housing authority enters, they must leave you a written statement explaining why and when they came into the apartment.
Federal public housing
In federal public housing, you must allow a housing authority employee to enter your apartment during reasonable hours to:
- perform routine inspections and maintenance,
- make improvements or repairs, or
- show the apartment to a new tenant.6
The housing authority must give you 48 hours notice before it sends a worker into the apartment (unless you and the housing authority agree to a specific time that they may enter). This notice must be in writing and must state why the housing authority is sending a worker into your apartment.7
If the housing authority believes there is an emergency situation, they may enter your apartment without giving you any notice, whether you are home or not.8 If there is no adult at home when the housing authority enters, they must leave you a written statement explaining why and when they came into the apartment.9
In addition to the above reasons, under state law, the housing authority may enter your apartment in the following situations:10
- The housing authority has a court order allowing it to enter.
- It appears that you have abandoned the apartment.
- If either you or the housing authority has given notice of intention to terminate the tenancy, the housing authority may, during the last 30 days of the tenancy, inspect to determine whether there is damage that should be deducted from a security deposit.
If any part of your lease that states other reasons that the housing authority can enter your apartment this is illegal.11
If a housing authority employee enters your apartment illegally, write to the manager of the development. In the letter, state what happened and ask the manager to make sure it does not happen again. You can also file a grievance with the housing authority. If these measures do not stop the illegal behavior, in extreme cases you may also go to court and get an order (called a restraining order) preventing such unauthorized entry.
If you do not let the housing authority into your apartment after it followed the notice requirements, you may face an eviction for violating your lease.12 If you think the housing authority’s stated reason for coming into your apartment is a pretense for something else, such as harassment, you may have a defense to the eviction.
If you believe that the housing authority is being unreasonable in requesting an inspection, you may request a grievance hearing.13 To do this, write to the housing authority and explain why you want a grievance hearing. Bring the letter to the office of the development where you live. The housing authority will then schedule a hearing.