Resolving Disputes about Your Housing Assistance
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
What should I do if I don't agree with a decision made by a housing assistance agency?
A housing assistance agency is an agency such as:
- A housing authority;
- The HRDC;
- The Housing Division of the Montana Department of Commerce; or,
- Any other agency that administers a housing assistance program.
A housing assistance agency may make a decision that you don't agree with. For instance, they may deny your eligibility for housing assistance, raise your rent, or terminate your housing assistance.
If you disagree with a decision, you almost always have the right to be heard by the housing assistance agency. The type of hearing depends on what type of housing assistance you receive. If you aren't already receiving housing assistance and want to appeal the decision to deny your application for assistance, you can request an appeal.
If you live in public housing (usually owned by a housing authority), you have the right to request a grievance hearing. You can make this request after most housing authority decisions that have a negative effect on your housing.
If you live in project-based Section 8, you may request an informal conference with the landlord or property manager. If you have a housing choice voucher (also called a Section 8 voucher), you may request an informal hearing with the housing assistance agency.
Even before any hearing or conference, try and resolve the issue informally by talking with your caseworker. If this is unsuccessful, ask to speak with your caseworker's supervisor. Sometimes disputes can be resolved without having a conference or hearing.
What happens in a hearing or conference?
You have the opportunity to tell your side of the story. You can also explain why you disagree with the decision that you appealed. You can take with you to the hearing or conference any documents or any witnesses that support your side of the story.
How do I request a hearing or conference?
The letter that you receive from the housing assistance agency will usually tell you what to do to appeal its decision. Follow those instructions. Usually you must request the hearing or conference in writing.
Be sure to request the appeal within the time limit provided in the letter from the housing assistance agency.
What are my rights in the appeal?
- You have the right to be represented by a lawyer or paralegal, but you would have to pay for them.
- You can have an interpreter. If you need one, be sure to request one when you request your hearing or conference.
- You have the right to look at your housing file and copy anything in it.