What should I know about the grievance procedure for public housing tenants?
Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Public housing grievance procedure in Georgia
What should I know? +
- What is a grievance procedure?
- What is a settlement?
- What happens during the grievance hearing?
- What are my rights and responsibilities?
The grievance procedure helps take care of problems between tenants and the housing authority. It's a way to complain about problems with your housing authority.
The grievance procedure is your official complaint process. You can have a grievance or complaint about some evictions, disputed rent, excess utility bills, repair charges or lack of repairs.
You and your manager may be able to solve the disagreement before the grievance hearing. This is called a settlement. It must be put into writing and signed by both parties. Your housing authority can accept a settlement even if you have already requested a hearing.
Your grievance will be heard by a grievance committee, panel or hearing officer. This depends on how your housing authority's grievance procedure works. In some housing authorities, if a tenant does not appear for the hearing, they lose automatically. In other housing authorities, the panel or officer may postpone the hearing. Sometimes grievance panels or officers may even decide that by not showing, the tenant gives up the right to the hearing.
Except in lease termination cases, the tenant usually goes first. You must explain why you requested a hearing and what solution you expect. Keep your statement brief and to the point. Then you may present witnesses and other evidence-any person, information or documents that support your explanation. This can be repair receipts, photos of damages or neighbors who know firsthand about your situation.
The housing authority then presents its case with witnesses and other evidence. You and the housing authority may cross-examine one another's witnesses. The hearing committee, panel or officer will ask questions of you, the housing authority and witnesses. Your case may be decided at the end of the hearing or several days later. However, a decision should be made and given to you within a reasonable number of days. Check with your housing authority about the time limit for grievance hearing decisions.
How is the decision made?
The decision is based only on what is said or presented at the hearing. After the hearing, a written decision will be given to the housing authority. The housing authority will give you a copy. A copy is also put in your housing authority file.
A final decision in your favor is "binding" on the housing authority. This means they must follow the decision. If the final decision is in favor of the housing authority, you can file an appeal.
You have the right to file a grievance if you have an issue with the housing authority. You must file your grievance within the time limit set by the housing authority.
If the grievance is related to a lease termination, you have only 10 days to start a grievance after getting the termination notice.
If the grievance is about something else, the housing authority has set the time limit for making a complaint.
Each housing authority has its own grievance procedure rules. Check with your manager about the grievance procedure in your project.
If you file a grievance, you have a right to a hearing. You are responsible for going to that hearing. If you cannot go to the hearing or will be late, call ahead to explain why.
If you do not agree with the outcome of your grievance hearing, you may have the right to appeal the decision. Some housing authorities have panels to look over hearings for appeals. Check with your housing authority about the procedure for appealing an unfavorable decision.
What can I do? +
- How do I file a grievance?
- How do I ask for a grievance hearing?
- What can I do to get ready for the hearing?
It is a simple process. When you have a problem, make a written complaint to your housing community manager. The manager will then hold an informal discussion with you. This is your chance to tell your side of the story. Keep your explanation short and to the point. After this informal discussion, your project manager puts together a summary and sends you a copy. At this point, the problem may be resolved. If not, you can request a grievance hearing.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your informal discussion, you may request or file for a grievance hearing. You must make your request in writing. You are allowed a certain number of days to make this request. If you do not, you may lose your right to a hearing, so act quickly. The housing authority will notify you about the date and time of your hearing.
Get a copy of the rules for the hearing from your manager.
Review your file. The manager must let you read your file and make copies, but they can charge you a reasonable amount for the copies.
Pull together papers you have that help you (like rent receipts or proof of income from an employer).
Decide if you want someone to represent you. You may represent yourself or you may have an attorney or other person represent you. If someone does represent you, tell that person everything about your case. This is so they can help you get ready for the hearing.
Be sure you are present and on time for your hearing. If you cannot go to the hearing or will be late, call ahead to explain why.
Remember that each step has time limits. Always check with your housing authority about its grievance rules.
Get a copy of the grievance procedure rules from the manager's office. They should be posted in each manager's office. If you ask for a copy but do not get one, call the Atlanta Legal Aid Society or Georgia Legal Services Program office nearest you. If you meet client eligibility requirements, they may be able to help you.
For Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties, call Atlanta Legal Aid Society: (404) 524-5811
For all other counties, call Georgia Legal Services Program: 1-800-498-9469