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Davidson Heights LLC v. New York City Housing Authority

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 31, 2014

DAVIDSON HEIGHTS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY (NYCHA) and JOHN RHEA, as Chairman of NYCHA, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

EDGARDO RAMOS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Davidson Heights LLC ("Plaintiff" or "Davidson Heights"), the owner of a building located at 1285 Shakespeare Avenue, Bronx, New York, brings this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the New York City Housing Authority ("NYCHA") and John Rhea, Chairman of NYCHA[1] (collectively, "Defendants"), violated its due process rights by failing to pay monies purportedly owed for Plaintiff's former tenant's rent subsidies. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that NYCHA failed to comply with the federal statute and regulations governing the federal Section 8 housing program, as well as NYCHA's own policies. Davidson Heights also alleges that the non-payment of the housing subsidies constitutes unjust enrichment under New York law. Pending before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint. Doc.

8. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

a. Factual Background

The following facts are based on the allegations in the Complaint, which the Court accepts as true for purposes of the instant motion. See Koch v. Christie's Int'l PLC, 699 F.3d 141, 145 (2d Cir. 2012).

Section 8 is a federal housing subsidy program for low income tenants of privatelyowned buildings that is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). Compl. ¶ 10. Defendant NYCHA is a local Public Housing Authority charged with the administration of a program governed by Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. Id. ¶¶ 7, 10. In this capacity, NYCHA oversees the administration of 92, 000 housing vouchers in the City of New York. Id. ¶ 7. According to the Complaint, one such voucher was issued to Maria Silverio ("Ms. Silverio"), Plaintiff's former tenant. Id.

Under the Section 8 program, NYCHA enters into Housing Assistance Payment ("HAP") contracts with participating landlords, pursuant to which NYCHA provides payments directly to landlords to subsidize the cost of housing for low-income tenants. Id. ¶ 11. In order for an apartment to qualify as suitable under the Section 8 program, it must meet certain Housing Quality Standards ("HQS"). Id. ¶ 15. Though the tenant is required to fix any damage he or she causes, the landlord is otherwise responsible for maintaining the habitability of a Section 8 apartment. Id. ¶ 17.

As a Public Housing Authority, NYCHA must follow certain guidelines implemented by HUD. Id. ¶ 9. In particular, NYCHA is required to conduct initial and annual inspections of Section 8 apartments, as well as special or "complaint" inspections. Id. ¶ 18. Public Housing Authorities are required to terminate program assistance to property owners who fail to correct HQS deficiencies within specified time periods. Id. ¶ 22. If an HQS violation is issued, the landlord has 24 hours to correct life-threatening conditions, and 30 days to correct other conditions. Id. ¶ 23. NYCHA must then verify that HQS violations have been corrected through either a re-inspection or the submission of a Certification of Completed Repairs signed by the landlord and tenant. Id. ¶ 24. HAP contracts are automatically terminated 180 days after the last subsidy payment to the landlord. Id. ¶ 27.

According to the Complaint, NYCHA failed to make housing subsidy payments to Davidson Heights for the apartment formerly occupied by Ms. Silverio (the "Apartment"), which is located at 1285 Shakespeare Avenue, Bronx, New York. Id. ¶ 41. Ms. Silverio was a recipient of monthly Section 8 rental subsidies from NYCHA in the amount of $1, 031.86. Id. ¶¶ 42, 43. Total rent for the Apartment was $1, 396.86. Id. ¶ 43.

On December 1, 2011, NYCHA performed an inspection of the Apartment without prior notice to Davidson Heights.[2] Id. ¶¶ 46, 47. On December 5, 2011, Plaintiff received an HQS violation for the Apartment. Id. ¶ 47. After it corrected the violation, Plaintiff and Ms. Silverio signed a NYCHA Certification of Completed Repairs, which was then faxed to NYCHA on January 15, 2012. Id. ¶¶ 49, 50. Contrary to HUD Guidelines and NYCHA policy, however, NYCHA did not reinstate Section 8 payments for the Apartment. Id. ¶ 51. Beginning in February 2012, NYCHA withheld the monthly payments on the basis of the December 2011 HQS and subsequent violations. Id. ¶ 44.

On May 8, 2012, NYCHA re-inspected the Apartment and issued a new HQS violation. Id. ¶ 52. After it corrected this violation, Davidson Heights and Ms. Silverio executed another certification, which Plaintiff faxed to NYCHA on May 25, 2012. Id. ¶ 54. Again, NYCHA did not reinstate Section 8 payments. Id. ¶ 55. Plaintiff alleges that NYCHA has not re-inspected the Apartment since May 2012. Id. ¶ 56.[3]

In August 2012, without notice to Davidson Heights, [4] NYCHA issued a voucher to Ms. Silverio that would allow for the transfer of her Section 8 assistance to a new property upon her relocation from the Apartment. Id. ¶ 57. Plaintiff claims that this transfer voucher-which was due to expire approximately 120 days from its issuance-was extended or reissued multiple times. Id. ¶ 58.

In September 2012, Davidson Heights called NYCHA to inquire about the status of the Section 8 subsidy payments. Id. ¶ 60. A NYCHA representative told Plaintiff that Ms. Silverio's move was pending; however, the representative ...


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