Student successfully argues for client’s tenancy

There was a threatened eviction of a client with three young children renting an apartment in federally subsidized housing in which her rent is limited to thirty percent of her monthly adjust income.  The client had been arrested on a felony assault charge prior to signing her initial lease for which she received community supervision. (She had nothing else on her criminal record.) The client did not accurately disclose the felony arrest when applying for the apartment, and management did not find it in its criminal background search. Three years later management performed a criminal background check on the client, and the client’s prior arrest was found.  Management promptly sent the client a thirty-day notice of termination and non-renewal of the lease.  Management’s reasons were that the client (1) failed to properly disclose the prior felony arrest at the time of her application, and (2) that she had subsequently violated one of the conditions of her deferred adjudication.  Management contended that these constituted material breaches of the lease for which it could terminate her tenancy.The student obtained a copy of the client’s entire file, researched a number of possible legal defenses, and met with the property manager to attempt to
resolve the eviction before the landlord filed suit.  

The student argued that
(1) the client’s felony arrest occurred before commencing tenancy at the complex and could not be used against her under her current lease, (2) any action taken against the client for failure to disclose is barred by a two-year statute of limitations, (3) the client was not in violation of any conditions of probation/parole at the time the notice of termination was given (or anytime after), and (4) the client is on community supervision not probation or parole, and no provision exists in the lease that defines a violation of community supervision as a material breach of the lease.

The student set forth the arguments for the property manager in a lively give-and-take.  The property manager promised to discuss the legal arguments with her attorney.  The landlord later decided not to file an eviction lawsuit and renewed the client’s tenancy.

Category: Cases and Projects