Housing Authority Litigation & Regulatory ComplianceWhile many civil lawsuits relating to occupancy of a property are covered by state contract law, a completely distinct set of issues and considerations arise within the context of housing authorities, who administer federal housing programs on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These claims include claims of discrimination, allegations of wrongful denial or termination of housing assistance, and other actions filed against housing authorities at HUD, as well as other local governmental agencies. It may also include a compliance review initiated by HUD to ensure that the housing authority is in compliance with federal law. These matters involve a complex consideration of the relationships between landlords, tenants, housing authorities, and HUD. Because of this, it is essential that you have knowledgeable counsel to turn to as problems may arise, to assist you in avoiding litigation, and that the same counsel be able to provide you experience in the courtroom in the event a lawsuit is filed.
Success in the defense of these claims can often turn on a proactive and strong offensive approach. Early and detailed investigation into the facts and circumstances giving rise to the claim, as well as the parties' relative obligations under federal and state law is critical. However, it is also critical that attorneys handling these disputes are cognizant of a housing authority's ongoing relationship with HUD, and that they defend all matters with foresight regarding the special relationship between the two. Lawyers must be mindful of the fact that the relationship between the housing authority and HUD will continue long after any litigation or regulatory review has concluded.
Under the umbrella of civil litigation and regulatory compliance, Best, Vanderlaan & Harrington attorneys have specialized in the defense of housing authorities for many years. We have worked closely with our housing authority clients not only on these matters, but also in training their employees how to avoid such complaints before they occur. We advise our clients as to: how to address issues that arise with landlords, clients, HUD and other third parties, and to avoid them escalating to a complaint; drafting and implementing handbooks, policies and other communications used in administering programs; how to handle issues that arise under both state and federal law in their role as public housing landlords; and issues arising from the administration of the housing authorities themselves. On the occasions where disputes escalate to litigation, we work to develop an early strategy with the housing authority to limit any liability, and to resolve litigation in a manner that is sensitive to the time and costs that must be invested by housing authorities in defending such litigation.