Landlord banned from participating in public housing rental program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Candace Moore is a single mother of six who is part of the public housing system.  When it comes to her landlord, Moore is speaking out. 

"Right now at this point people need to know about her," Moore said.  

Moore's actions are being noticed by the Housing Authority of Kansas City (HAKC).    

"I think this was a landlord that got greedy," said Edwin Lowndes, the Executive Director of the HAKC.      

Trouble after Moore moves in 

In July, 2011, Moore and her family moved into a rental home in Grandview owned by Edyth Hinton of Leawood, Kan.  Until recently, Hinton qualified to rent her properties to low income families. 

Here is how the process works.   A public housing tenant finds a place to rent, then the HAKC enters into a contract with the landlord.  Both the agency and landlord agree on monthly rent and security deposit. 

In this case, the Housing Authority set rent at $1045. Moore would pay a full month's rent as a security deposit.  

Moore would pay $41 toward the monthly rent, while HAKC would pay Hinton the remaining rent of $1,004 using federal tax dollars.

But Moore alleged Hinton required her to pay a higher security deposit of $1,660 and higher rent.  Instead of just $41, Moore claimed she paid her landlord $596 a month.

That amount, combined with the $1,004 the HAKC paid Hinton, brought the total rent to $1,600.

Moore said she paid in August an additional $200 in late fees. She then says she paid $578 in September.   

"I was only getting unemployment payments and child support.  Pretty much almost every dime I received I had to give to her, " Moore said.

Frustrated, Moore stopped paying rent in mid-September and reported her landlord to the Housing Authority.

"There was a complaint by the client saying they thought they were being asked to pay too much money," Lowndes said.    

Landlord loses in court

Moore had trouble proving her claims to HAKC, since she said the transactions between her and Hinton were done by cash. 

In January, Hinton began the process to evict Moore. Court records show Hinton claimed Moore owed her $3,409 in rent even though Moore moved in six months prior and should only pay  $41 dollars a month. An eviction results in a Public Housing tenant getting kicked off the program.

Hinton lost the eviction case, and the judgment handed down in March showed the judge determined Moore actually paid $1,660 towards the security deposit, more than the $1,045 required by the lease.

Hinton appealed, claiming the previous judge had made "mistakes".

In June, Hinton lost again.   This time, the judgment, "based on credibility of witnesses", found that Moore actually overpaid Hinton $1,319 in rent between August 2011 and June 2012.

Housing Authority takes action

Following two court judgments in Moore's favor, the HAKC took action.  

"Based on that judgment, we were then able to act against Miss Hinton for collecting too much money," Lowndes said.

Through an open records request, Call For Action obtained documents from the Housing Authority's own investigation.

Hinton provided the HAKC a copy of the lease.   Under security deposit, which should read $1,045, a higher amount of $1,600 is written in.  Next to that are the words, "Completed Sept 5, 2011".

A letter sent in June to Hinton from the Housing Authority stated the lease shows "an altered amount of $1,600 indicating the full amount was paid September 5, 2011." 

Another document provided by Hinton to the HAKC was a hand-written ledger showing Moore paid over a period of several weeks an even higher amount of $1,660 towards the security deposit. 

Hinton has refused repeated requests for an on-camera interview and a statement before we published this story. 

"She's done so much to me and my family.  I'm very upset that she's gotten away with it for so long," Moore said.

HAKC terminates contracts with landlord

Hinton can no longer receive public money for her rental properties.  The Housing Authority letter to her states she "materially" violated the Housing Assistance Payment Contract, that she collected more funds from the tenant than allowed under the lease and that she submitted "false documentation to HAKC reflecting amounts that were not in the approved lease in an attempt to justify your actions of collecting amounts from the tenant in excess of the amounts due. "

The letter ends by stating the Housing Authority will not accept any future requests from Hinton.  The agency will terminate all Housing Assistance Payment Contracts with Hinton effective July 31, 2012.

When asked why taxpayers should care about what has happened with this landlord dispute, Housing Authority director Lowndes said it has to do with taxpayer money. 

"It is our obligation to make sure that the landlord is receiving only the amounts that they are entitled to under the contracts," Lowndes said.

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