No public housing eviction for petty crime

Law of the Land

Richard K. Edwards leased an apartment from the Public Housing Agency of St. Paul, Minn., in 2008; in 2009, he was arrested for possessing two bags of marijuana while he was visiting a friend in her apartment, at another PHA-owned complex. Though the criminal charges against Edwards were dismissed, the PHA sued to evict him, alleging that his arrest violated and materially breached his lease.

In particular, the PHA complained that Edwards’ arrest violated terms of his lease, which stated that tenants shall not engage in "drug-related criminal activity," and prohibited "[a]ny activity, not just criminal activity, that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants and public housing employees, or drug-related and/or criminal activity on or off the premises, not just on or near the premises."