Ohio bill would expunge prior evictions from renters' records

WCPO eviction notice.png
Posted at 12:18 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 10:44:36-04

Kimberly Thomas is currently homeless, but she's still fighting with her former landlord over a variety of issues, including an eviction that now would make finding housing a huge hurdle.

"(I'm) very worried, because it would hinder me finding a new place," she said.

A new bill in the Ohio legislature would allow renters to have prior evictions expunged from their records: Senate Bill 158 has bipartisan support and could give some local tenants a chance to find stable housing again.

But Legal Aid managing attorney Nick Dinardo said the pandemic's economic impact has only exacerbated the issue.

"A lot of people in our community are living paycheck to paycheck, and so a one-time emergency could cause them to actually lose their housing if they get evicted," he said. "They might otherwise be just fine tenants."

Those eligible would have to have a clean rental record for three years. The longer since their last eviction, the easier the process would be. Landlords who initiated the eviction would be notified and given the chance to argue against expungement.

But if the bill becomes law, Dinardo doesn't expect that to happen often.

Hamilton County has similar measures on the books.

"Generally speaking, most landlords don't care," Dinardo said. "If it's some point in the past, they may or may not respond. I think they certainly have the right to be notified.

"Once a single eviction has been filed against you, you tend to enter kind of a different world of renting places."

It's why Thomas says she needs her eviction expunged in order for her and her children to move on.

"It's wrong. Nobody should have to live like this," she said.