April 25, 2019 Ashley Maria Jackson

Reading Your Leasing Agreement Could Help You Avoid Eviction

Knoxville Community Development Corporation (KCDC) has been working on lowering eviction rates, but the root of the issue starts with informed tenants.

By: Ashley Jackson

In 2017, 30 percent of homeless cases reported in Knox County were the result of an eviction. Contrary to popular belief, non-payment is not always the root cause.

University of Tennessee Social Work Office of Research & Public Service | August 2018

The Knoxville Community Development Corporation, an independent housing authority that manages all of Knoxville’s public housing, has been working on lowering the eviction rates in the Knox County area.

Ashley Ogle is a grievance assistant coordinator for KCDC who sits in on multiple hearings throughout the year to be the ears for those who could potentially be facing eviction from public housing.

“Tenants are simply misinformed about their leasing agreements. Most hearings tend to sound and look the same. The tenants show up to prove their innocence, but the property manager tends to be able to direct the tenant straight to the section of the leasing agreement they failed to uphold.”

Ogle says some evictions could easily be prevented if the tenants would simply read their leases.

Western Heights Leasing office. CC: KCDC website

KCDC and the Knoxville Police Department partnered up to combat domestic disturbance and crime happening in public housing, according to an article published by Don Green in 2000. However, a case was recently presented to Ogle regarding an incident that took place at KCDC Western Heights housing complex.

The issue involved two single parent families.

“As a hearing officer, I have sat in on multiple eviction hearings that were the result of domestic violence, but this particular case involving these two families was all over the place,” Ogle said.

The domestic disturbance grew over a period of three days. The property manager finally issued an eviction notice to both families. The two families were shocked to receive such a notice and were unaware of why the notice to vacate the property was being issued.

“When this case was placed on my desk, I  knew automatically this particular hearing would be tense. I had already been shown videos, pictures and sat and talked with the property manager about the incident.” Ogle continues, “This was more than a disturbance. One of the families involved seemed to have it out for everyone living in the Heights. We believed it to be a status thing because she had been a resident for over ten years.”

“If the tenant is creating a disturbance and interfering with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of other tenants in the building, you can file for an eviction,” according to Erin Eberlin, landlord and property investing expert.

The case at Western Heights became more than just a disturbance.

“The families were informed several times by both Western Heights property manager and KPD with a notice to quit, but videos continued to surface of disturbances on the property from the two families,” Ogle says.

“These hearing cases are typically taking place because the tenants did not follow the rules in the leasing agreement. Tenants broke rules that they agreed to 30 days before the rules were even enforced. It is sad to have to tell a family that I am upholding their eviction, but it really is their responsibility to read their leasing agreement,” says Ogle.

The actions that KCDC are taking to lower the eviction rates from public housing includes informing tenants about the rules and regulations they sign on their leasing agreements. 

Angela Johnson, a case manager at Restoration House who used to be property manager of apartments including Cedar Springs and Green Hills, put it best when she described the situation as a “cycle.” According to her, “Mom raises kids, they grow up there,” and it goes on and on. Johnson suggests that by implementing more guidelines, it could “break this generational curse.”