Can You Get Kicked Out of Low-income Housing for Making too Much Money?


Let’s kick this off by knowing exactly what we are talking about. So, what is low-income housing?

Well, low-income housing is housing set aside, usually by the government, for individuals and families with low income. To be considered a low-income family or individual means that the person or the collective household earns less than 80 percent of the median income in the local area.

This housing is for people who need it the most so an individual receiving housing assistance will question what will happen if their income levels go up

This article looks at what happens when you start making more money while being a part of a  government-assisted housing program and some of the steps you can take.

Categories of people considered as low income

Those earning less than 80 percent of the median income are low-income earners, below 50 percent are very low-income earners, and below 30 percent are extremely low-income earners.

How is low-income housing rent calculated?

The responsible housing agency calculates 30 percent of the gross household income and that becomes the rent. This may be inclusive of utilities or not depending on the house.

In some cases, the rent may be lower than the expected 30 percent depending on the policies governing low-income housing in that area.

Can I be evicted for making too much money?

This brings us to our main point of focus, “Can people who earn ‘too much’ be evicted from low-income housing?”

Let’s use this example:

A family that was previously under the low-income bracket but is not anymore wants to continue renting out low-income housing.

Before I lay down the facts, do you think that it would be fair that the family continue to live there? Should the landlord evict the tenants should they choose to stay after the rise in income?

With that asked, here is what would happen considering the law.

As these occupants get more cash-flow, they regularly pay more in rent. It’s a higher amount but it is not even near what a loft on the private market would set them back. However, the higher rents help lodging specialists supplant government subsidizing that, after a seemingly endless amount of time after a year, under Republican and Democratic organizations, is lessening.

Why these tenants cannot be pushed out

Evicting higher-earning tenants, when the law permits them to remain, would put nearby authorities in danger of disregarding reasonable lodging laws by treating a few inhabitants uniquely in contrast to other people. That would imperil the organization’s government financing.

So instead, they are amicably encouraged to move out to a market-rate apartment or buy a house the latter being a more permanent solution.

What do I do if my income increases?

Tenants that live in federal and state public housing are expected to report on their households’ incomes once every year. The date that this report is expected will depend on your local housing authority. Some will count a year from the day you moved into the unit and some collect reports from tenants in one area at the same time. 

If your income changes between the year, you do not have to wait until the end year report is due. You can relay this information in an interim report and the procedure is different for both federal and state housing.

In federal housing, each local Public Housing Authority has its procedure for reporting a change in income. Most of the regulations are specified in the lease so you should go through the document carefully and note the details.

If you receive state housing assistance, you are required to report a change if your household’s monthly gross income goes up by 10% since the last time you reported. You should do this before the 7th day of the month after the one where your income was changed. More detailed information on how to report the raise or deduction will be specified in your lease.

What happens if I don’t report an increase in my income?

If you do not hand in an interim report about the changes in your income in good time, here are some of the options you will be dealing with.

  • You might be charged for the increased rent that would have been the case if the report had been sent in good time. In some cases, you may also have to pay a lateness penalty fee on the unpaid increased rent.
  • You might get evicted because of failure to report the increase. However, you can revert this eviction in a court of law if you have a good and valid reason for delaying your report or if the unpaid rent is small compared to the amount normally paid in rent. Remember to bring with you any documentation that might help prove that your reasons for reporting late are valid.

Notice for rent increase

Once you have reported an increase in income, there is a procedure that will need to be followed to lawfully increase the rent. This also varies from federal housing assistance to state public housing. 

If the state caters to your housing, you should expect to receive a written notice at least 14 days before the increase. The state also requires that the increase be effective on the first day of the month. These rules can be overlooked if the PHA is allowed by the Department of Housing and Community Development to use others. If you did not report the increase as protocol regards, you will not be given advanced notice. 

If you live in Federal Public Housing, the terms of your rent increase are usually decided by the local housing authority in your area and they are indicated in your lease. 

Can I get a decrease in rent?

In the same way that a person’s rent can increase, it can also be reduced. Here are some of the scenarios that would make you eligible for a reduction in rent:

  • A loss of income. If your earnings reduce because of fewer work hours or a loss of child support or alimony.
  • A change in deductible expenses like the elderly and disabled deduction, the dependent, and the medical deductions.
  • A change in you and your family’s immigration status.

Here are the steps that you can take to request a reduction.

  1. Write a letter requesting for the reduction and note the specific reason that you are asking for a reduction. Indicate which month the drop in income occurred. Be sure to also include the date.
  2. Once the letter is ready, make a copy for yourself and take the original to your local PHA. Let this letter be stamped and ask them to keep it in your tenant file. This will be helpful if there is ever a claim that you submitted the request late.

When will the decreased rent become effective?

This also depends on how swift you are in reporting any changes. If you delay, then no adjustments will be made for the delay period. Exceptions can be made where persons with disabilities are involved.

If you made the report in good time when the reduced rent takes effect depends on the housing assistance you are receiving.

If you are a beneficiary of stare public housing, you will start to pay the new rent latest on the first day of the month after the one you made the report. The PHA will do some investigation to validate your claims and once there is proof, the reduction begins to be processed.

If you are living under federal public housing, the date the new rent becomes valid depends on the rules of your local PHA. Once you send over your notice, you should receive a letter from the authority highlighting the new rent and its effective dates. If you want an explanation for the new rent calculations, you can make a request and the PHA will explain to you.

If you filed the letter but your rent still hasn’t been lowered, you should visit your local PHA office to inquire why it is so. If this is still not successful, you can file a grievance by writing a letter requesting a hearing and send it to the PHA main office. Once your letter is received you will be given a venue and time for your hearing.

There, you should present all necessary paperwork to show that the PHA is the one at fault, not you. 

Final thoughts

In conclusion, there are very low chances for one to be evicted from low-income housing because of an increase in income. The rent may go up and terms of the lease may change but eviction is unlikely. It sounds unfair for those deserving on the waiting list but life is never fair and after all, at the end of the day, it is still a business and the landlord will not mind a more capable tenant.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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