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Chapel Hill’s Department of Housing, hereafter known as the Department, is committed to the idea that all residents of public housing should have a procedure to discuss and dispute decisions that adversely affect the individual Tenant’s rights, duties, welfare or status. It is the hope of the Town that complaints can be solved without either party feeling the need to go to court. The Grievance Procedure is a mechanism that allows residents to present these grievances and have them fairly considered. This procedure is adopted in accordance with federal regulations for establishing a grievance procedure.
This Grievance Procedure, which is a part of the Lease Agreement, is designed to provide an administrative procedure for the processing of grievances. A grievance is defined as a dispute, which a Tenant may have with respect to Department’s action or failure to act in accordance with the individual Tenant’s lease or Department’s regulations which adversely affect the individual Tenant. The procedure is intended to cover such specific matters as termination of lease, reexamination of income, return of security deposits, collection of cost or repairs, enforcement of lease agreement and restrictions, and other similar matters. This Grievance Procedure does not apply to the type of disputes set forth in Paragraph III, Section B below. It is not intended to be used as a public forum or procedure for offering general suggestions or criticisms for the overall improvement of the operations or decisions of the Department. These suggestions should continue to be presented to the staff or to the Department’s Advisory Board for discussion, consideration, and disposition.
This procedure will assure tenants an opportunity for a hearing to present their grievances within a reasonable time.
- The grievance procedure applies only to individual grievances.
- Situations in which the Grievance Procedure does not apply:
- The grievance procedure shall not be available where an eviction or termination of tenancy is based upon a tenant’s creation or maintenance of a threat to the health and safety of other tenants or Department employees. This exception to the availability of the grievance procedure is intended to apply only in serious and limited situations.
- Disputes between tenants where the Department’s actions or failure to act are not involved.
- Class grievance: Class grievances are grievances brought on behalf of a group or groups of tenants.
- Negotiation of policy changes between the Tenant groups and the Advisory Board.
- Applicants for admission as residents of projects operated by the Department.
IV. Presentation of Complaint
The grievance shall be presented personally, either orally or in writing, to the Director of the Department within ten (10) working days after the tenant is notified in writing of the Department’s action or affirmative indication that it will not act on the subject of the grievance. Failure to present the grievance to administration during this time will waive the Tenant’s right to this grievance procedure.
V. Informal Settlement of Grievances
The Director shall discuss the grievance with the Tenant, informally, and they shall determine whether the grievance may be settled without a hearing. A summary of the discussion will be prepared by the Director. One copy of the summary shall be given to the Tenant, within five (5) working days and one copy shall be retained in the Tenant’s files in the Department’s office and one copy mailed to the chairman of the Housing Advisory Board. The summary shall specify the following:
- name of the participants in the discussions;
- date(s) of the discussion(s);
- the proposed disposition of the complaint and the specific reasons therefore; and
- statement that verified that it was explained to the tenant that the tenant has a right to request a hearing, and the procedures that should be followed in requesting a hearing.
VI. Procedure to Obtain a Hearing
- Informal discussion with Housing Director as in section V.
- Request for Hearing:
The Tenant has a right to request a hearing before the Hearing Panel within ten (10) working days from the date of receiving the summary. The request for a hearing shall be deemed given to the Department when it is submitted in writing to the Director or Department office or orally presented to the Department for transcription and a signature by the tenant. The request is also deemed given on the day after a written request is deposited in the United States mail. The written request should specify:
- the reason for the grievance;
- the action or relief sought from the Department.
- Escrow Deposit:
Before a hearing is scheduled in any grievance involving the amount of rent which the Department claims is due, the Tenant shall pay to the Department the amount due and payable as of the first of the month preceding the month in which the act or failure to act took place. The Tenant shall thereafter pay the monthly amount due to the Department for deposit in an escrow account until the grievance is resolved by decision of the Hearing Panel. The failure to make such payment shall result in a termination of the grievance procedure and waiver of the Tenant’s right to a hearing.
If the Tenant presents a grievance not relating to rent, the Tenant must continue to pay all rent and other charges as they become due. Failure to pay any rent or other charges as they become due shall constitute an independent ground for termination of tenancy, regardless of the outcome of the grievance procedure.
If the Department accepts payment as required herein, in escrow or otherwise, the Department does not give up its claim that the Tenant has breached his/her lease. In addition, such payment shall not cancel any Notice of Termination of the Lease.
An escrow account is an account to which monies are deposited but are not available to the Tenant or the Department. After the resolution of the grievance, the monies are paid to the Department or returned to the Tenant in accordance with the decision of the Hearing Panel.
- Scheduling of Hearing:
Upon Tenant’s compliance with all requirements of this grievance procedure, the Hearing Panel shall normally schedule a hearing to be held on the date of the next regular meeting of the Housing Advisory Board. A written notice specifying the time, place, and procedures governing the hearing shall be delivered to the Tenant.
- Selection and Composition of Hearing Panel:
Grievances shall be presented before a Hearing Panel. A hearing panel shall be selected as follows:
- The hearing panel shall be appointed within five (5) working days after the filing the grievance.
- The hearing panel shall consist of all members of the Housing Advisory Board. Decisions made by the Hearing Panel will be final. However, this does not preclude the Tenant from taking the matter to court.
VII. Procedures Governing the Hearing
- The hearing will be informal and technical rules of evidence will not apply to the proceeding A tape recording of the hearing proceedings will be made by the Department,
- All parties involved in the hearing have the right to be represented, at their own expense, by counsel or by another person chosen as his/her representative.
- The hearing shall be private unless the Tenant requests a public hearing.
- The Tenant has the right to present evidence and arguments in support of his/her complaint, to dispute evidence relied on by the Department and to confront and cross-examine all witnesses on whose testimony or information the Department relied.
- The decision of the Hearing Panel shall be based solely and exclusively upon evidence presented at the hearing.
- The Tenant must first make a showing of entitlement to the relief sought, and thereafter the Department must sustain the burden of justifying the Department’s action or failure to act against which the complaint is directed.
- The Hearing Panel shall within ten (10) working days after the hearing, prepare a written decision, together with the reasons therefore The Hearing Panel will be assisted by the Legal Staff of the Town in preparing the written decision Copies of the decision shall be mailed or delivered to the Tenant and the Director of the Department A copy of the decision of the Hearing Panel will be filed in the confidential file of the Tenant.
The Department shall, in addition, maintain a copy of all decisions in its files, with names and identifying references deleted, and make such copies available for public inspection.
VIII. Failure to Request a Hearing
If the Tenant does not request a hearing in accordance with this procedure, then the Director’s disposition of the grievance as set for in the summary statement shall become final. Failure of the Tenant to request a hearing does not waive his/her right to take the matter to court.
Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Chapel Hill
Approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development