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Housing Authority of Joliet v. Keys

December 14, 2001

THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JOLIET, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
PATRICIA KEYS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit Will County, Illinois No. 00-LM-915 Honorable Raymond A. Bolden Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

Released for publication January 31, 2002.

THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF JOLIET, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
PATRICIA KEYS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit Will County, Illinois No. 00-LM-915 Honorable Raymond A. Bolden Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

PUBLISHED

 The plaintiff, Housing Authority of Joliet (Housing Authority), brought a forcible entry and detainer action against defendant, Patricia Keys, to evict Keys from her residence. The trial court held that public housing tenants cannot be evicted for the criminal activities of guests or family members over whom they have no control. We affirm.

Keys is a tenant in federally subsidized public housing managed by the Housing Authority. Her adult grandson, Jeffrey Campbell, was named as a household member on her lease and resided with her but was not a party to the lease.

On April 19, 2000, Devon Johnson was robbed and shot at Keys' residence. Campbell and Angela McDonald, Keys' adult niece who did not reside with Keys, were arrested and subsequently confessed. When the crime occurred, Keys was a patient in the hospital.

A month later, the Housing Authority served Keys with a notice to terminate her tenancy. The Housing Authority then filed a forcible entry and detainer action against her. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Keys, and the Housing Authority moved to reconsider. The trial court denied the motion, holding that a tenant "without notice and without control over guests or family members cannot lose his or her lease hold [sic] interest in the property." The Housing Authority appeals.

Keys has not filed an appellee's brief. Even so, because the record is short and the claimed error is such that we can easily decide the issue without the aid of an appellee's brief, we will address the merits of the appeal. First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp., 63 Ill. 2d 128, 133, 345 N.E.2d 493, 495 (1976).

We must decide whether Keys' eviction was (1) authorized by the Housing Authority's lease with her; (2) mandated by federal law; or (3) unconstitutional as fundamentally unfair and violative of due process.

I.

We first consider whether the Housing Authority's lease with Keys supports her eviction. The Housing Authority contends that Campbell and McDonald's criminal acts, committed without Keys' knowledge and in her absence from the residence, constitute a violation of the lease. The Housing Authority bases this contention on an addendum to Keys' lease which states, in part, "Tenant, any member of the Tenant household, a guest, or another person under Tenant's control shall not engage in or permit * * * [a]ny criminal activity * * * on or off the premises * * *." A breach of this portion of the lease is grounds for eviction.

Thus, the Housing Authority can evict a tenant if it can show: (1) criminal activity; (2) occurring on or off the premises of the public housing; (3) by the tenant, a "member of the [t]enant['s] household, a guest, or another person under [t]enant's control."

Here, the first two factors were not contested. Campbell and McDonald confessed to the crime that took place in Keys' residence. Further, the crimes were perpetrated by a member of Keys' household and a guest. Thus, we must determine ...


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