RHINO is the Rental Housing Information Network in Ohio

Today in Ohio history

July 30, 2002 --- Expelled from Congress a week earlier, Youngstown's favorite son James A. Traficant Jr. was sentenced to eight years behind bars for corruption.

This week's rental housing news

  • July 20, 2021. Cleveland Scene. Justin Bibb Issues "Eviction Notice" to "Predatory" Property Owner Holton-Wise. "Standing on the front porch of a dilapidated property on Cleveland's west side, mayoral candidate Justin Bibb denounced the property management firm Holton-Wise and other companies like them that profit off the exploitation of historically underserved communities." Thanks to JeffM for sharing.

  • JULY 20, 2021. NextCity. The Activists Behind the Push for Rent Stabilization in St. Paul. "If approved by voters, the policy would limit rent increases for all rental units across the city to 3% over a 12 month period. This is an effort by Housing Equity Now St. Paul (HENS), a coalition of community and neighborhood groups, to curb the displacement they see happening in Minnesota’s capital city. Over half of St. Paul residents are renters and the majority of renters are people of color. The Twin Cities region accounts for 76% of BIPOC households in the state, only 40% of them are homeowners compared to 75% of white households." Nice profile of a campaign...not just a media hit.

  • July 15, 2021. CityLab. How Philadelphia Plans to Beat the Looming Eviction Cliff, “ 'Here in Philly, the program grew out of this emergency, but we are trying to build a model that will work for tenants and the landlords in the long run, even long after Covid,' says Rachel Garland, managing attorney for the housing unit at Community Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides pro-bono legal services to low-income Philadelphia residents.

  • JULY 21, 2021. Ohio Capital News. Study: Central Ohio housing stabilization project improved health outcomes for women, infants. "A new study found that a Columbus project to help maternal and infant birth outcomes should be used more broadly to improve health access and housing. The Health Policy Institute of Ohio was commissioned to study Health Beginning at Home, a project from 2018 to 2021 meant to 'test the impact of providing rental assistance with housing stabilization services to unstably housed pregnant women at risk of infant mortality,' The project, funded primarily by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, was led by CelebrateOne, a collaborative in Franklin County, which randomly assigned 100 families, 49 of which received housing intervention."

  • Jul. 20, 2021. Cleveland19. Ohioans say past evictions continue to affect ability to find housing; new bill would expunge records in certain cases

  • Jul 23, 2021. cleveland.com. Brook Park requires rental property managers/designees to operate within 15 miles of city "A vacant property/building registration ordinance in Brook Park has been amended to require that property managers, or their designated successor agents, reside or operate their principal places of business within 15 miles of the city limits. The updated law resulted from concerns Councilman Jim Mencini previously expressed publicly about emergency situations in which the home or rental unit’s manager, owner or designated contact has been located too far away to arrive promptly to address safety issues. He mentioned past resident calls he received about property owners who manage properties in Brook Park but are unable to be reached because they live in California and even New Mexico."

  • July 23, 2021. Reuters. U.S. appeals court finds CDC eviction moratorium unlawful. " A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked authority for the national moratorium it imposed last year on most residential evictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati means judges in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan are no longer bound by the moratorium, said Joshua Kahane, the lawyer who argued the case for a property manager. The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling in March finding the CDC overstepped its authority when it issued the moratorium last year."

  • Jul 23, 2021. Cleveland Scene. Holton-Wise to Justin Bibb: Come At Me, Bro. A predatory landlord/house flipper speaks his mind.

  • Jul 22, 2021. pennlive. Forget ringing doorbells, Amazon wants the ‘key’ to your apartment building. "The service, dubbed Key for Business, is pitched as a way to cut down on stolen packages by making it easy to leave them in lobbies and not outside. Amazon benefits because it enables delivery workers to make their rounds faster. And fewer stolen packages reduce costs and could give Amazon an edge over competitors." Your home becomes their office? Wait, what if the lobby is one of those showcase lobbies where tenants aren't allowed to sit and kibbitz? how would this work in a building with a poor door? Does staples get a key too?

Paying rent to the portal? rhino up for July 25, 2021

Imagine that your landlord just set up an online rent payment system. What could possibly go wrong? For many tenants, paying rent to a faceless robot goes against their temperament. Other tenants may not be computer savvy, or might not have a computer, or a credit card, or a bank account. Some tenants may be differently abled and unable to use a computer. What about them? For tenants who live in HUD assisted housing or in California, no problem. HUD notice H-2020-10 (section VI, a, 1) and California landlords must offer an alternative method for payment. However, tenant protections in other jurisdictions seem non-existent.

Here's an example of how a payment portal works. Zillow's rent payment service is free for landlords, but charges tenants fees for paying with a credit or debit card. Tenants may pay for free only if they set up Automated Clearing House (ACH) which sets up an automated funds transfer system to siphon rent payments from your bank account to the landlord's bank account.

This past week, RHINO has gotten reports that some HUD tenants in Ohio are being forced into payment portal schemes which require a computer, some technical skill, a bank account or credit card...and sometimes come with a fee for the right to pay your rent on time! If that's your situation, don't panic. Instead, call your local legal services office to get help in challenging mandatory portal payment policies. It will be interesting to see if attorneys can challenge these payment portal practices under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Fight the power

Maybe it's just summer in Ohio, but this week seemed like a wayback from the 1970's when Cincinnati's Isley Brothers told us: "Time is truly wastin', there's no guarantee, yeah/Smile is in the makin', we got to fight the powers that be."

This week, group of residents of a Ramada Inn in a Cleveland suburb began resisting moving back to the men's shelter which is located in an industrial setting on the fringes of the downtown business district. These men had benefited from an effort to deconcentrate congregate shelters at the onset of the pandemic. But as the pandemic fears eased, the snap back to the shelters began, encouraged by the mayor of Independence Ohio. NIMBY concerns rather than health and safety seem to be driving much of the rush to return these homeless people back into the downtown shelter system. Despite the fact that the Ramada owner has expressed support for his customers who have been staying at the hotel, Independence Mayor Greg Kurtz, County Administrator Armond Budish, and the shelter operators, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries supported shifting financial support back to the downtown shelter.

Meanwhile in Cincinnati, predatory rent increases have tenants at Court View Apartments protesting against being displaced from their homes. Many, they argue, will be forced into homeless shelters due to the absolute lack of affordable alternatives in Cincinnati. A local ballot initiative that would fund new affordable units was soundly defeated in May. A multinational investor bought Court View and has ordered residents out of their homes following a 30 day notice to terminate their month-to-month rental agreements.

In both of these situations, the local homeless coalitions are working to amplify the voices of resistance against a return to the shelter system.

Meanwhile, tenants at Colonial Village apartments in Columbus are protesting the owner's failure to provide basic health and safety at the 502 unit development on the East Side of Columbus. In this case, the City of Columbus and Columbus Legal Aid are supporting tenants to bring pressure on the owners to comply with court orders that address health and safety concerns.