Failure to pay rent, damage to property and violation of a responsibility imposed by law are the usual valid reasons for evicting a tenant. However, one young woman has been evicted from her apartment in Orem, Utah because of her depression and suicidal thoughts.
The young woman, who is a college freshman shared her emotional struggles with her three roommates hoping to open a dialogue and seek counsel regarding her mental health issues.
Soon after, she was surprised to find the note below posted on her door:
“We have been made aware that you have vocalized suicidal tendencies which has caused undo (sic) stress and alarm to your roommates and violated your lease,” the letter signed by a manager at Ventana Student Housing said.
Without her knowledge, her roommates reported what she was going through to the apartment’s management and used it against her after an argument.
“They used my mental challenges to their benefit … I was asking for help and that is the opposite of what I got,” she said. “I was completely shocked. I was crying and shaking and immediately trying to pack,” she told KSTU. “It’s so morally wrong for them to be doing this to someone who’s been having such a hard time.”
Having lived in the apartment for over a year, this really came a shock to her as she was given only 5 days to vacate the premises. Part of the letter stressed out that a lease can be terminated if a tenant breaches “the quiet enjoyment of the premises” or causes “any nuisance, health or safety hazard.” based on the signed lease agreement. Management was also careful not to use the word “eviction”.
Current laws prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability which also applies to perceptions of such characteristics.
Nate Crippes, a staff attorney at the Disability Law Center said “Frankly, that appears to be blatant discrimination under the Fair Housing Act,”
“There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness….At this point, I think we would hope to see people respond better to someone in this situation.” He added, “This appears to be somebody who has vocalized a symptom of a disability, like mental illness… This just seems particularly heinous for a person to take this action against someone.”
As this situation was clearly a violation of this young woman’s rights, she may soon be compensated for the ordeal. Fortunately, she had family to stay with in Utah County while looking for other living arrangements. Dealing with depression and mental illness is hard enough and being kicked out of your home while going thru makes it even more difficult for those with mental health challenges.
“The thing that upsets me most about this is that they decided evicting someone who was already having a hard time would make it easier on them,” she said. “The reason they were kicking me out was because of my depression and my suicidal thoughts, which just only made them worse — and it would make it worse for anyone having to find somewhere else to live.”
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