Fraud on the Government
Shady landlords sometimes defraud the federal government by cheating the subsidized housing system. For example, a landlord might take more money from the government than they are entitled to by claiming to have more tenants than they actually do, or by charging their tenants more than they are allowed to under the Section 8 program. When this happens, a tenant may have a right to compensation if they serve as a whistleblower.   

How can a tenant serve as a whistleblower and be entitled to compensation?

A tenant can serve as a whistleblower by filing a special kind of lawsuit known as a "qui tam" lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq.). In a qui tam lawsuit against a landlord, a tenant brings a lawsuit against their landlord on the government's behalf to recover money cheated from the government by the landlord. In order to compensate the whistleblower for helping the government fight fraud, whistleblowers - including tenants - are generally entitled to some portion of the money and penalties recovered by the government.

When a qui tam lawsuit is first filed, it is placed "under seal" meaning that only the Justice Department and the court are told about it at first. Like the rest of the public, the landlord being accused of fraud is not told. Meanwhile, the tenant gives the evidence of fraud in their possession to the government for review. This gives the government time to investigate the allegations while the tenant's evidence is reviewed.

After the government investigates, it may decide to "intervene" or take part directly in the qui tam case. Even if the government decides not to intervene, the whistleblower may pursue the case with their own attorney. In both cases, the whistleblower is generally entitled to an award if the case is successful. 

What does landlord fraud look like?

Landlord fraud can take many forms, but the essence of all qui tam cases is that the landlord took money (or more money than it should have) from the federal government on the basis of a false representation or promise.

For example, a landlord defrauds the government when they charge a Section 8 tenant "side payments," or more rent than is allowed under the Section 8 HAP contract. In Coleman v. Hernandez - a Connecticut case litigated by another firm - a landlord was found liable for defrauding the government when it charged the tenant $60.00 more in rent each month than was allowed by the tenant's Section 8 agreement. The landlord was ordered to pay back both the government and the tenant, and the tenant recovered an additional whistleblower's reward and attorney's fees. 

If you believe your landlord may be defrauding the government, request a free case evaluation today...

If you have knowledge that your landlord is defrauding the government, you may be entitled to a whistleblower reward. If you interested in a free case evaluation, please click here or call 512-953-3393.  

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