Mar 12

The Housing Authority, with support from the Apartment Association wins an important decision on eviction for drug activity.

The Apartment Association of Southeastern WI  filed an Amicus Curiae ( legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/amicus+curiae ) brief in support of the City Housing Authority.   

The brief filed was jointly on behalf of the Apartment Association and the Wisconsin Association of Housing Authorities was drafted by AASEW attorney Heiner Giese.  It is a fun read:

A. Hard Cases Make Bad Law

We start with a disabled 62 year old public housing tenant in the City of Milwaukee. He was perhaps smoking a bit of weed in his own apartment, doing it quietly, and when the security officer knocked on his door to ask, “What’s that smell?” he understandably didn’t let the officer in. And for this small, albeit criminal transgression (we are in Wisconsin, not Colorado!) his Housing Authority landlord serves him with an eviction notice.  

The Wisconsin Supreme Court writes:

Tenants will have an incentive not to use illegal drugs in the first instance if they can be evicted for, and given no right to cure, drug-related criminal activity. The potential to be evicted for any drug-related criminal activity, including a first offense, provides a powerful incentive to avoid such activity. See Rucker, 535 U.S. at 134 (citing Pacific Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip, 499 U.S. 1, 14 (1991)) (“Strict liability maximizes deterrence . . . .”). By contrast, if a landlord were required to give a “free pass” on a tenant’s first drug offense, tenants would have little incentive not to use illegal drugs because if they are caught, they can just promise not to do it again. For the other tenants of the building, this after-the- fact promise is far from a remedy for completed criminal activity and “‘stan[ds] as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.'” See Barnett Bank, 517 U.S. at 31 (quoting Hines, 312 U.S. at 67). The objective of Congress is to provide safe, drug-free public housing, not to provide housing that allows criminal drug activity so long as the offender promises not to do it again.

  

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/supreme-court-upholds-milwaukee-mans-eviction-over-smoking-pot-b99460952z1-296077981.html

Tim Ballering

Tim@ApartmentsMilwaukee.com

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Posted by: tim ballering <affordable@wi-rentals.com>

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