On December 29, HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs issued a Memorandum reiterating the legal obligations that owners of federally assisted housing have regarding tenant use of marijuana. The Memorandum notes that some states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes and other states have begun to broadly legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. The Memorandum reminds owners, however, that the use of marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and therefore illegal under the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA).
Summarizing two key QHWRA provisions, the Memorandum makes a clear distinction between an owner’s responsibility regarding applicants for admission to assisted housing, and continued occupancy for those already living in a property. Owners must deny admission to assisted housing for any household with a member that the owner determines to be illegally using a controlled substance, such as marijuana. However, owners must establish standards or lease provisions that allow the owner to terminate tenancy or assistance for any household with a member who the owner determines is illegally using a controlled substance. In other words, QHWRA gives owners the discretion to evict or not evict current tenants for using marijuana.
The Memorandum is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=useofmarijinmfassistpropty.pdf