The purpose of this subpart is to set forth the requirements, standards and criteria for a grievance procedure to be established and implemented by public housing agencies (PHAs) to assure that a PHA tenant is afforded an opportunity for a hearing if the tenant disputes within a reasonable time any PHA action or failure to act involving the tenant's lease with the PHA or PHA regulations which adversely affect the individual tenant's rights, duties, welfare or status.
[56 FR 51579, Oct. 11, 1991]
(1) The PHA grievance procedure shall be applicable (except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section) to all individual grievances as defined in § 966.53 of this subpart between the tenant and the PHA.
(i) The term due process determination means a determination by HUD that law of the jurisdiction requires that the tenant must be given the opportunity for a hearing in court which provides the basic elements of due process (as defined in § 966.53(c)) before eviction from the dwelling unit. If HUD has issued a due process determination, a PHA may exclude from the PHA administrative grievance procedure under this subpart any grievance concerning a termination of tenancy or eviction that involves:
(A) Any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises of other residents or employees of the PHA;
(B) Any violent or drug-related criminal activity on or off such premises; or
(C) Any criminal activity that resulted in felony conviction of a household member.
(iii) For guidance of the public, HUD will publish in the Federal Register a notice listing the judicial eviction procedures for which HUD has issued a due process determination. HUD will make available for public inspection and copying a copy of the legal analysis on which the determinations are based.
(iv) If HUD has issued a due process determination, the PHA may evict the occupants of the dwelling unit through the judicial eviction procedures which are the subject of the determination. In this case, the PHA is not required to provide the opportunity for a hearing under the PHA's administrative grievance procedure.
(b) The PHA grievance procedure shall not be applicable to disputes between tenants not involving the PHA or to class grievances. The grievance procedure is not intended as a forum for initiating or negotiating policy changes between a group or groups of tenants and the PHA's Board of Commissioners.
(a) Each PHA shall adopt a grievance procedure affording each tenant an opportunity for a hearing on a grievance as defined in § 966.53 in accordance with the requirements, standards, and criteria contained in this subpart. A PHA may establish an expedited grievance procedure as defined in § 966.53.
(b) The PHA grievance procedure shall be included in, or incorporated by reference in, all tenant dwelling leases pursuant to subpart A of this part.
(c) The PHA shall provide at least 30 days notice to tenants and resident organizations setting forth proposed changes in the PHA grievance procedure, and providing an opportunity to present written comments. Subject to requirements of this subpart, comments submitted shall be considered by the PHA before adoption of any grievance procedure changes by the PHA.
(d) The PHA shall furnish a copy of the grievance procedure to each tenant and to resident organizations.
(e) The PHA must not only meet the minimal procedural due process requirements contained in this subpart but also satisfy any additional requirements required by local, state, or federal law.
For the purpose of this subpart, the following definitions are applicable:
(a) Grievance shall mean any dispute which a tenant may have with respect to PHA action or failure to act in accordance with the individual tenant's lease or PHA regulations which adversely affect the individual tenant's rights, duties, welfare or status.
(b) Complainant shall mean any tenant whose grievance is presented to the PHA or at the project management office.
(c) Elements of due process shall mean an eviction action or a termination of tenancy in a State or local court in which the following procedural safeguards are required:
(1) Adequate notice to the tenant of the grounds for terminating the tenancy and for eviction;
(2) Right of the tenant to be represented by counsel;
(3) Opportunity for the tenant to refute the evidence presented by the PHA including the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses and to present any affirmative legal or equitable defense which the tenant may have;
(4) A decision on the merits.
(d) Expedited grievance means a procedure established by the PHA for any grievance concerning a termination of tenancy or eviction that involves:
(1) Any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the PHA's public housing premises by other residents or employees of the PHA; or
(2) Any drug-related or violent criminal activity on or off such premises.
(e) Hearing officer means an impartial person or persons selected by the PHA, other than the person who made or approved the decision under review, or a subordinate of that person. Such individual or individuals do not need legal training. PHAs must describe their policies for selection of a hearing officer in their lease forms as required by § 966.4, changes to which are subject to a 30-day comment period as described in § 966.3.
(f) Tenant shall mean the adult person (or persons) (other than a live-in aide):
(1) Who resides in the unit, and who executed the lease with the PHA as lessee of the dwelling unit, or, if no such person now resides in the unit,
(2) Who resides in the unit, and who is the remaining head of household of the tenant family residing in the dwelling unit.
(g) Resident organization includes a resident management corporation.
Any grievance shall be personally presented, either orally or in writing, to the PHA office or to the office of the project in which the complainant resides so that the grievance may be discussed informally and settled without a hearing. A summary of such discussion shall be prepared within a reasonable time and one copy shall be given to the tenant and one retained in the PHA's tenant file. The summary shall specify the names of the participants, dates of meeting, the nature of the proposed disposition of the complaint and the specific reasons therefor, and shall specify the procedures by which a hearing may be obtained if the complainant is not satisfied.
(a) The hearing must be scheduled promptly for a time and place reasonably convenient to both the complainant and the PHA and held before a hearing officer. A written notification specifying the time, place, and the procedures governing the hearing must be delivered to the complainant and the appropriate official.
(b) The complainant shall be afforded a fair hearing, which shall include:
(1) The opportunity to examine before the grievance hearing any PHA documents, including records and regulations, that are directly relevant to the hearing. (For a grievance hearing concerning a termination of tenancy or eviction, see also § 966.4(m).) The tenant shall be allowed to copy any such document at the tenant's expense. If the PHA does not make the document available for examination upon request by the complainant, the PHA may not rely on such document at the grievance hearing.
(2) The right to be represented by counsel or other person chosen as the tenant's representative and to have such person make statements on the tenant's behalf;
(3) The right to a private hearing unless the complainant requests a public hearing;
(4) The right to present evidence and arguments in support of the tenant's complaint, to controvert evidence relied on by the PHA or project management, and to confront and cross-examine all witnesses upon whose testimony or information the PHA or project management relies; and
(5) A decision based solely and exclusively upon the facts presented at the hearing.
(c) If the complainant or the PHA fails to appear at a scheduled hearing, the hearing officer may make a determination to postpone the hearing for no more than 5 business days or may make a determination that the party has waived his right to a hearing. Both the complainant and the PHA must be notified of the determination by the hearing officer. A determination that the complainant has waived the complainant's right to a hearing will not constitute a waiver of any right the complainant may have to contest the PHA's disposition of the grievance in an appropriate judicial proceeding.
(d) At the hearing, the complainant must first make a showing of an entitlement to the relief sought and thereafter the PHA must sustain the burden of justifying the PHA action or failure to act against which the complaint is directed.
(e) The complainant or the PHA may arrange, in advance and at the expense of the party making the arrangement, for a transcript of the hearing. Any interested party may purchase a copy of such transcript.
(f) Accommodation of persons with disabilities.
(1) The PHA must provide reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities to participate in the hearing. Reasonable accommodation may include qualified sign language interpreters, readers, accessible locations, or attendants.
(2) If the tenant is visually impaired, any notice to the tenant which is required under this subpart must be in an accessible format.
(g) Limited English Proficiency. PHAs must comply with HUD's “Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons” issued on January 22, 2007 and available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/promotingfh/lep-faq.
(a) The hearing officer must prepare a written decision, including the reasons for the PHA's decision within a reasonable time after the hearing. A copy of the decision must be sent to the complainant and the PHA. The PHA must retain a copy of the decision in the tenant's folder. The PHA must maintain a log of all hearing officer decisions and make that log available upon request of the hearing officer, a prospective complainant, or a prospective complainant's representative.
(b) The decision of the hearing officer will be binding on the PHA unless the PHA Board of Commissioners determines that:
(1) The grievance does not concern PHA action or failure to act in accordance with or involving the complainant's lease on PHA regulations, which adversely affects the complainant's rights, duties, welfare or status; or
(2) The decision of the hearing officer is contrary to applicable Federal, State or local law, HUD regulations or requirements of the annual contributions contract between HUD and the PHA.
(c) A decision by the hearing officer or Board of Commissioners in favor of the PHA or which denies the relief requested by the complainant in whole or in part will not constitute a waiver of, nor affect in any manner whatever, any rights the complainant may have to a trial de novo or judicial review in any judicial proceedings, which may thereafter be brought in the matter.
[81 FR 12375, Mar. 8, 2016]