Ducey to decide fate of bill making Section 8 not count as rent in eviction cases




TomaDesk
Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Late last week, in the waning days of the legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that would give landlords the ability to evict tenants who pay their rents with assistance from the federal government’s Section 8 housing voucher program.

Rep. Ben Toma, R-Peoria, said previously that he introduced House Bill 2358 at the request of the Arizona Multihousing Association, a trade group for large rental properties.

Toma said the bill is a response to a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling from last year.

The crux of the ruling was that, if a landlord accepts a rental housing voucher payment that counts as partial payment, a tenant is protected under Arizona law from eviction.

Proponents of the measure said that, under the current law, landlords cannot evict someone for violence or domestic violence if they accept a rental assistance payment. However, the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence is neutral on the bill.

 

Additionally, it also states that if a rental agreement is terminated, a landlord can take up a claim for possession and rent and a separate claim for damages from a tenant, something that many landlords already do.

Under Toma’s proposal, a landlord could say that rental assistance does not constitute a rent payment, and then evict the tenant – even as it keeps the money.

The original bill also included assistance from churches and community based organizations, but the version that was sent to Gov. Doug Ducey exempts faith-based organizations and community action agencies.

Payments from government agencies, public housing authorities and from third parties on behalf of a government agency are not exempt.

The bill passed the House on a 35-25 vote and passed the Senate 19-7.

According to data collected by Arizona’s 211 system, 162 of Toma’s constituents called 211 for help with housing assistance last year.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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