Rent board member sued over wrongful Section 8 collections

July 1, 2024 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BED-STUY — A BED-STUY SECTION 8 tenant is suing Rent Guidelines Board member Christina Smyth, a real estate attorney appointed by Mayor Adams, over alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, reports Curbed. The tenant, Epifania Nunez, claims that Smyth’s firm has a pattern of wrongfully suing Section 8 tenants for unowed payments. After Nunez’ apartment building last year failed a city inspection and was suspended from the Section 8 program, her landlord, represented by Smyth, began threatening eviction and sued Nunez for the full rent amount, despite federal law stating that tenants cannot be held responsible or evicted in such situations. While Smyth claimed in court that Nunez owed more than $5,000  — improperly neglecting to include that Nunez was in the Section 8 program —  documents submitted to the court showed that not only had Nunez made full payment but also that her landlord had been overcharging for several years, owing Nunez more than $3,000 in rent credit. 

Nunez’ attorneys in the lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York in May, note three other cases in which Smyth’s firm, which frequently does debt collection work, sued Section 8 tenants in similar circumstances. Nunez told Curbed she was scared to lose her apartment of 20 years and had initially considered settling with her landlord.


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