I'm totally disabled; I receive SSDI; I've a sec. 8 HUD voucher from NJ

Asked about 2 years ago - Belmar, NJ

I've lived in my apt. since 1-03; annual rent increases=$25 thru 1-12; this yr. LL cites $65 COLA; my neighbor says he rec'd $10 increase 4 '13. LL running special 13 mo. lease; HDTV and cash card; newbies rent=$975; my current rent is same, but would rise to $1040; Case worker said it's within guidelines, but I'll tap out in a yr, and invade SS corpus. I said 2 her: you're free 2 spend state's $$, but you'll affect my ability 2 remain put; medical issues cause severe $$ hardship=poor credit; no $$ 4 security or mover. Is this a violation of the equal protection clause of US Const? ability to contract fairly? Legal aid is only option...but they do what's expedient...always underfunded, overworked. Should I use them, or go solo in Land/Ten. Ct? or Chancery Div.?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Michael Ryan Juarez

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . Dear Citizen,

    First I'm sorry your in this situation. I'm not an expert on SSDI but believe you should use all the resources at your disposal. Start with legal aid, let them evaluate your claim and recommend someone that may specialize in the area of law you need. Constitutional claims are very expensive to litigate and take a long time. However a win would not only benefit you but others in your same situation. Good luck.

    -Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.... more
  2. Daphne Lori Macklin

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . You did not indicate whether you are disabled and a senior or just disabled. You did indicate that you have SSDII income and a HUD Section 8 (now Housing Choice Voucher) rental assistance. I am not sure what you mean by "invade SS corpus". My sense is that you are concerned that the LL is imposing a large rent increase for 2013 after 12 years of fairly modest increases. I am not certain how much your share of the rental payment is through your housing assistance program. But, unfortunately for renters in subsidized housing or with housing assistance benefits, property owners are very good at adjusting rental increases to match any increases you may see in your benefits due to annual cost of living adjustments. Another frustration is that you, as a current tenant under the HCV rental agreement cannot take advantage of the "special" that the LL is offering to new tenants.

    You indicated that you spoke with your case worker, but you did not indicate whether this was for Social Security benefits or for the HCV program. If the HCV program case manager has advised that the $65 rent increase is within guidelines, then you are rather stuck. My sense is is that you may want to consider looking for new housing which may be newer and better suited to your needs as a person with disabilities. Unless you live in a rent controlled area, it is lawful for a landlord to charge different rents to different tenants.

    I would encourage you to contact your local LSC funded legal assistance program staff for a consultation about your options. It is not unusual or unlawful, in most circumstances, for a LL to use rent increases to displace tenants they would like to "move along". On the other hand, with your source of income and the rental assistance benefit payment, you are a fairly stable source of income for the LL. You may want to negotiate a somewhat lower increase with the LL although he or she is not obligated to do so.

    Good luck with this.

    This advice is not a substitute for a thorough evaluation of all of the facts of your case by a housing law... more
  3. Lisa Kaye Deselms Dent

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . The Community Health Law Project has about 5 offices throughout New Jersey. Their mission is to provide for the legal needs of disabled persons in New Jersey. They would be worth looking up. I had my first job as an attorney there. It's been many years, so I do not know what programs they currently offer, but I think they could help you find some direction at the very least.

    This response is based on the limited facts presented and is not intended to substitute for direct legal advice,... more

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