- Can a housing authority require me to transfer to another apartment?
- If I am overhoused and have to transfer, how many apartments does a housing authority have to offer me?
- Can I challenge the housing authority’s request that I transfer?
Can a housing authority require me to transfer to another apartment?
Your housing authority may be able to transfer you to another apartment in the following circumstances:
- Family size changes: If your family size decreases and the apartment is too large for your household size.1
- Serious conditions: There are conditions in your apartment that pose a serious threat to your family’s safety.2
- Demolition, revitalization, or rehabilitation: Where your development is facing demolition or revitalization.3
- Special features of unit not needed : You are in an apartment which is specially adapted to accommodate a person with a disability (for example, it’s wheelchair accessible, or adapted for a person with a vision or hearing disability), you do not need those features, and another tenant or applicant needs an apartment with those features.4
- Administrative reasons: In state public housing, your housing authority can make administrative transfers at any time for a sound administrative reason.5
- Good cause: Your lease may specify reasons why a housing authority can transfer you. Or the state or federal housing agency may approve certain reasons why the housing authority can transfer you.6
State public housing
If you live in state public housing and your family size has decreased, you do not have to transfer to a smaller apartment if you are already in a two-bedroom apartment or less, and are a:
- widow or widower of a veteran, or
- a Gold Star Mother.
To qualify for this special protection, you must have lived in your apartment for at least eight consecutive years and you cannot be more than three months behind in your rent.7
Federal public housing
In federal public housing, a housing authority has the option to decide (discretion) whether or not to permit you to stay in your current apartment, even if it is the wrong size for your family.8
If I am overhoused and have to transfer, how many apartments does a housing authority have to offer me?
State public housing
If you live in state public housing and the housing authority has determined that you are overhoused (your apartment is too large for the size of your household), the housing authority only has to offer you one apartment that is an appropriate size for your household. Read your lease to see what your housing authority’s transfer policy is. You can also ask your housing authority for a written copy of its transfer policy.
Under the state’s model lease, tenants have 30 days to transfer, sign a new lease, and move to that unit.9 Your housing authority may also allow you to choose which development you would like to transfer to if you live in a community with more than one development; however, this is not required, and depends on the housing authority’s policy.
If you refuse to transfer to an available unit within the time period stated in your lease, you will not be given another transfer offer and your rent will be changed to 150 percent of your current rent.10 For example, if your rent is $200, it will go up to $300.
Under old regulations, tenants used to be given three transfer offers. These regulations no longer exist and that three-offer system has been gone for a long time.
If you feel that the apartment offered is not the appropriate size—for example, because you have a disability and need a larger apartment to house a live-in aide—you have a right to file a grievance and ask for a reasonable accommodation. Some housing authorities’ policies also allow you to reject a transfer offer for documented good cause. If you feel that you have other good cause to reject the offer—for example, you are a victim of domestic violence and the apartment offered is in a location close to your abuser—you may file a grievance.
Federal public housing
If you live in federal public housing, your transfer policy must state the number of transfer offers you will be given. Read your lease to see what your housing authority’s transfer policy is.11 Many housing authorities are moving to a one-offer system. As noted above for state public housing, if the proposed transfer would not reasonably accommodate your disability, or if your housing authority transfer policy permits you to reject an offer for good cause and you have good cause,12 you should tell the housing authority this and provide any proof that you can about the problems the transfer would cause. You can request a grievance hearing if the matter is not resolved.
Can I challenge the housing authority’s request that I transfer?
Yes. If you do not agree with your housing authority’s reason for transferring your family, you have a right to request a grievance hearing.
In both state and federal public housing, the housing authority must notify you in writing of any proposed transfer. It must also tell you the reason for the transfer and tell you that you have a right to request a grievance hearing if you disagree with the housing authority’s decision to transfer you.13
So, for example, if the transfer is required because of your family size, ask the housing authority for an explanation stating the specific reasons for its decision. You have a right to know and to file a grievance if you do not agree with their decision.
2See 24 C.F.R. § 966.4(h)(3); 760 C.M.R. § 5.03, definition of "Transfer for administrative reasons." See also M.G.L. c. 79A, § 13 (relocation assistance when unit is condemned as unfit for human habitation).
5760 C.M.R. § 5.03, see definition for "Transfer for administrative reasons."
8Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook, 11.6 (June 2003).
9To get a copy of the state Department of Housing and Community Development’s model lease, go to: www.state.ma.us/dhcd/components/public/lease.pdf.
10M.G.L. c. 121B, § 32, 2, as amended July 1, 2003.
11For a copy of a sample federal lease, go to: www.hud.gov/offices/pih/programs/ph/rhiip/phgb_app4_7new.pdf.
12Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook, 11.4 (June 2003).
13Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook, 11.4 (June 2003).
Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute Last updated November 28, 2005