Consumer Alert: Section 8 landlords must comply with federal law regarding rent-increase notice

Consumer Alert: Helping tenants who get housing help protect their rights

Consumer Alert: Helping tenants who get housing help protect their rights

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — More than 60% of Flower City residents rent their homes. Now, consider the fact that almost a third of Rochesterians live in poverty, exacerbating the challenges of finding housing.

I talked with a tenant who receives housing assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8.

Getting housing help does not mean who have no rights. And when this Section 8 tenant believed her landlord violated her rights, she called me.

If you don’t believe that Maritza Rosario has kept every letter, receipt and document pertaining to her rented apartment, you need look no further than her kitchen table.

“Everything that you see here is all the proof that we gave to the judge. And that’s how come we won in court,” said Gloria Gomez, Maritza’s sister and caregiver.

She won in small claims court $4,500 plus interest, totaling $6,159.98. The judge determined her landlord “failed to give her proper prior notice of rent increases.”

Deanna Dewberry: “How did you discover that your sister was being charged too much?”

Gloria Gomez: “I was reading all of her paperwork, because she can’t do it. I have to do it.”

That’s because her sister is intellectually disabled and receives Social Security disability assistance as well as housing help, commonly known as Section 8. It pays part of her rent. And that’s where Maritza’s story gets a bit more complicated.

Before a landlord can increase the rent of a Section 8 tenant, it must give the Rochester Housing Authority and the tenant 60 days notice. then the Rochester Housing Authority must determine whether the increase is reasonable based on current market rates.

Because Maritza was on a month-to-month lease, the landlord by law had to give Maritza at least a one-month notice. But the judge found the landlord failed to do that repeatedly.

Maritza Rosario: “I feel stress, ’cause she’s threatening me.”

Deanna Dewberry: “She’s threatening you?”

Maritza Rosario: (nods)

She says text messages and letters threatening eviction are constant.

I went to the address listed for the LLC owned by her landlord, Lynn Anderson. Through her ring doorbell camera, a woman first told me Lynn wasn’t there. Then she told me she didn’t know what I was talking about and threatened to call the police.

So next, I called her landlord.

Deanna Dewberry: “What about the judge’s contention that she showed evidence that you had failed to give 30-day notice before raising the rent?”

She insisted that she actually had given her 90 days notice — and said she had certified letters to prove it.

Deanna Dewberry: “Well if you had it why didn’t you take it to court? Then you wouldn’t have a $4,500 judgment against you.”


Maritza says her landlord is sending letters, however, threatening eviction with claims that Maritza owes thousands in back rent — even after the court ruling disputing that.

“Bullying my sister like that, it’s not right, especially someone that’s disabled,” Gomez said.

Her landlord assured me that she had proof she had provided proper notice, and would send it to me by Monday.

That was four days ago. I’ve not yet received it.

It’s important for Section 8 tenants to know that your landlord must comply with federal law if he or she is participating in the Section 8 program.

This document outlines tenants’ rights specifically for section 8 tenants:

This document outlines landlord’s responsibilities when they’re in the section 8 program: