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City Council passes measures to curb preventable eviction

'We will keep a lot of people, particularly children, in their homes'
Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 19:57:32-04

CINCINNATI — “We will keep a lot of people, particularly children, in their homes," City Councilmember Greg Landsman said Wednesday after Council passed what he called a “comprehensive” plan to prevent unnecessary evictions.

Landsman had proposed eight measures and all of them passed.

“We have an eviction crisis and what we did today by passing a comprehensive effort to curb preventable eviction is a big step in the right direction,” Landsman said.

The measures will put a cap on late fees and ensure that residents will get more notice before they can be evicted. They also establish a pilot program of rental inspections that target so-called “problem properties.”

SEE Landsman’s ordinances: Part 1 and Part 2.

Several landlords told WCPO this week that they opposed the inspections, saying the cost - $100 per unit – is unfair and could put small landlords out of business.

Before Wednesday's vote, Landsman tried to ease their concern by pointing out that it only affects apartments with safety complaints that haven’t been addressed for more than a year.

The pilot program will be launched in three neighborhoods - CUF (Clifton Heights, University Heights and Fairview) along with Avondale and East Price Hill. That only affects about 15% of landlords, Landsman said, and he expects that number to drop because landlords will have six months to fix any issues.

Putting the problem in personal terms, Landsman told WCPO about a woman he met in eviction court while working on his measures. She wasn’t paying her rent, so the landlord tried to evict her. But she told Landsman she wasn’t paying because the place had been infested with cockroaches and the landlord wasn’t doing anything about it.

The vote also creates a registry for all rentals, which caused some councilmembers to raise concerns about privacy.

The registry will list how much the landlord is charging for rent, the size of the rental and how many rooms it has, plus contact info for landlords.

But some councilmembers worried, first, that landlords wouldn’t give their actual phone number because they wouldn’t want it public, and secondly, that employers could easily find out how much their employees pay for rent.

Ultimately, the ordinance passed as written, but Landsman said the registry won’t be public.

“It won’t be a publicly facing document or data system or set. It’ll be something that we use internally, but I think it’ll make a big difference for using to communicate with these landlords to make sure they understand the opportunities, rights and resources,” Landsman said.

He also said it would make it easier for the city and emergency communications to get hold of landlords. And it will help the city track the cost of living, which he said is key to addressing another big issue: affordable housing.