Changing Units Due to Household Composition

Q.  A tenant that has received housing assistance through an agency's programs for about 2 1/2 years. Client has lived at the same apartment complex for most of that time; moved from one-bedroom unit to a two-bedroom unit because he became partnered and needed a larger unit. Most recently, tenant became partnered with a woman who had two children, one boy and one girl. This union made the family eligible for a three-bedroom unit. The family located a three-bedroom unit and moved in around the first of February. Today, the client contacted the agency office to notify that he and the woman have had a dispute and the woman and her children have left the household, leaving himself in a three-bedroom unit. How do we handle this now? The individual is only eligible for a one-bedroom, but has just entered into a new lease with a new landlord. Do we allow the tenant to remain in the unit to fulfill the lease, or do we try to work with the landlord to get the tenant out of the unit into a smaller unit which he is eligible?

A.  This is a tough situation and matter of diplomacy for the case manager and client to attempt to work with the landlord regarding breaking the lease. Federal funding cannot continue to pay for a 3 bedroom for 1 person. In fact the client was really only eligible for a 1 bedroom when he had a partner with no children the first time (2 household occupants per sleeping area). The landlord should be at least given a month notice and the client no more than 3 months to make a move to a new unit. Hopefully the landlord has a one-bedroom available or will understand that the federal funding is scarce and needs to be conserved where possible in cases such as this - not to mention hopefully the rental market is good at this time so you don't burn bridges with the resource. Some agencies put policy in place that limits moves for clients to larger units when new relationships occur until 3-6 months have passed just to ensure that the relationships solidify - but that is something an agency would choose to consider a local policy.

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