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"Pay to Stay" proposal could help renters fight eviction

Posted at 8:21 AM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 11:04:30-05

CINCINNATI — Renters in Cincinnati could have a better shot at avoiding eviction.

A proposed ordinance headed to a vote before Cincinnaty City Council on Wednesday promises to help renters and to make property owners whole.

The ordinance is being nicknamed "Pay to Stay" and it allows tenants to use the payment of past-due rent as a defense in their eviction case. The idea is better legal protection for those fighting to stay in place and a way for landlords to get the money they're owed.

The official name is "affirmative defense," and council enacted a similar version of it during Ohio's state of emergency earlier in the pandemic. The premise of the ordinance – proposed by council member Greg Landsman – is to help Hamilton County renters who statistically have lawyers only 2.5 percent of the time when fighting an eviction. Compare that to 88.2 percent of landlords who have representation at eviction hearings and it's easy to understand why tenants feel the deck is stacked against them. The ordinance is backed by the Apartment Association, a group of property owners, and Legal Aid, which represents a number of local tenants.

Public comment starts at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The council meeting begins at 2 p.m.