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Housing Authority of the City of Rahway v. Cooley

A-3000-03T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

LANDLORD-TENANT; RENT SUBSIDIES —When calculating the amount of annual income earned by a tenant at a federally funded public housing complex, one does not count the amount of child support that the tenant is legally entitled to receive from a supporting parent, just the payments actually received.

A tenant at a federally funded public housing complex for low income families was required to pay monthly rent based, in part, on the amount of her annual income. The housing authority alleged that its tenant failed to report child support income and sought to recover for the shortfall in rent that would have resulted from such an omission. Under federal regulations, such a tenant’s “annual income” includes “all amounts, monetary or not, which ... [a]re anticipated to be received from a source outside the family during the 12-month period… .” The landlord thought, based on that language, that it could calculate its tenant’s child support payments based on what the tenant was legally entitled to receive from a supporting parent instead of on the actual child support payments received by its tenant. The lower court relied on the landlord’s calculations and issued a judgment against the tenant. On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed on the basis that such “calculations erroneously imputed to [the tenant] income from child support payments she had not actually received.” As a result, it remanded the matter to the lower court to make findings based on the amount of child support that the tenant actually received during the relevant period.


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