There are plenty of common reasons why tenants typically get their lease terminated by a landlord. An inability or unwillingness to pay rent, significantly damaging the property, being a complete nuisance to neighbors, and otherwise violating the lease are among the more common reason.
However, one college freshman has been kicked out of her apartment in Orem, Utah, for an entirely different reason: her clinical depression and suicidal thoughts.
The woman had told her three roommates about her ongoing struggles in hopes that it help open some dialogue around mental health, the anonymous woman told KUTV.
Shortly afterward, she found a notice posted on her door informing her that she had to vacate her home in five days.
“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.
As it turns out, her roommates had informed the management of the apartment complex about her bouts with suicidal thoughts, which she had shared with confidence. Instead, the roommates used them 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.”
The woman had lived in the unit for about a year before receiving the notice, which carefully avoids use of the word “eviction.” Instead, the letter cites parts of the lease that stipulate that a lease can be terminated if a tenant breaches “the quiet enjoyment of the premises” or causes “any nuisance, health or safety hazard.”
While she is fortunate to have family in Utah County to stay with in between living arrangements, she is still stunned by the heartlessness of the management company.
“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.”
However, she could soon be compensated for the ordeal since the apartment management company appears to have completely flouted her rights, which she enjoys due to laws protecting tenants from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
“Frankly, that appears to be blatant discrimination under the Fair Housing Act,” said Nate Crippes, a staff attorney at the Disability Law Center.
“There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness,” Crippes said. “At this point, I think we would hope to see people respond better to someone in this situation.”
“This appears to be somebody who has vocalized a symptom of a disability, like mental illness,” he added. “This just seems particularly heinous for a person to take this action against someone.”
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