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Carteret Housing Authority v. Gilbert

301 N.J. Super. 109, 693 A.2d 955 (Law Div. 1997)

LEASES; MINORS—A public housing authority must lease to an underage tenant that remained in the apartment after her mother was jailed.

The Carteret Housing Authority provides and maintains public housing within the Borough of Carteret. In October, 1996, a tenant was put in jail, but her unemancipated minor daughter and the daughter’s own child continued to live there. The housing authority sought to evict the daughter contending that, as a minor, either she does not have the capacity to enter into a contract or, alternatively, she could enter into a contract and later disavow it.

The Law Division failed to find any minimum age limit for occupants of federally-subsidized housing. The Court also found that the daughter qualified as a “remaining member” under the U.S. Housing Act, which permits remaining family members to continue to live in federally subsidized housing, provided the named tenant has the right to do so. It was never contested that the daughter’s mother had the right to remain in the apartment. State law governing a warrant of removal states that a stay of such a warrant may be granted for up to six months if it appears that by issuing a warrant, the tenant will suffer hardship. However, the Court states that six months after the stay is granted, Samantha’s situation will not have changed since her mother will still be in jail. The Court determined that the daughter should be considered emancipated for the purpose of continuing as a resident in her home and ruled that the daughter may continue in possession of the apartment, conditioned upon timely payment of all future rents. The Court also stated that the daughter should apply for an order of emancipation to allay any concern that she would enter into a new contract for the apartment and later disaffirm it.


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