NRCDV Logo
  • Adult Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
  • Runaway & Homeless Youth Toolkit
  • Prevent Intimate Partner Violence
  • Violence Against Women Resource Library
  • Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Project
  • Building Comprehensive Solutions
  • National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Department of Housing and Urban Development v. Rucker

General Material
Publisher(s)

This U.S. Supreme Court case is notable because it supports the idea that public housing authorities are required under U.S. law to have lease provisions that allow for eviction of tenant who is "innocent" of drug-related criminal activity, e.g. the tenant did not engage in the activity, did not know about the activity and/or it was not within their control. The Court explains that the U.S. Congress knew how to provide an "innocent owner" defense, but failed to do so in this instance. Of consequence, the Court explains that public housing authorities, while required to have the lease provisions, are not required to evict.

This case is important in its own right vis a vis drug activity and the no-fault of tenants. It is also significant because some may interpret it to apply also to any criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants - and approving of required lease terms here as well. Advocates will want to understand and make explicit the scope of the decision while emphasizing the approved discretion of public housing authorities not to evict tenants. Domestic and sexual violence federal law and policy make a compelling case for exercising this discretion so that victims do not lose their homes because a perpetrator uses violence against them.VAWA 2005 provisions and Fair Housing Act discrimination claims may also assist survivors possibly facing evictions due to abuse.