To the Editor:
If you pay your rent, it is only fair that you should be able to stay in your home.
Especially during a public health crisis that hinges on self-isolation and social distancing, housing security is an imperative.
One in three Ohio households rents their homes according to a 2019 report by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. With over 1.2 million Ohioans filing new unemployment claims since mid-March, many of these households have experienced a disruption in their incomes and delays in receiving unemployment and stimulus money to cover their rent obligations.
It is incumbent upon cities to step in to protect their residents by enacting Pay to Stay legislation. Without Pay to Stay protections, any landlord can evict a tenant for being just a day late on rent. This is true even when the tenant has the cash in hand and offers it to the landlord.
Without Pay to Stay legislation, the rental assistance programs that cities are setting up will not save Ohio’s tenants. Advocates for Basic Legal Equality knows of several tenants who offered all rent due to their landlord, but the landlord declined to accept and proceeded with an eviction.
Absent legislation requiring a landlord to accept rent offered in full after the due date, a landlord can reject late rent despite circumstances beyond the tenant’s control. This gives landlords a distinct advantage of being able to evict tenants who may have complained about poor conditions and repairs who are now more vulnerable than ever.
Under a Pay to Stay city ordinance, an owner may not proceed with the eviction of a renter for non-payment of rent if the renter presents the full rent due.
We urge all Ohio cities and villages to enact Pay to Stay laws. City of Bowling Green officials received a Pay to Stay ordinance sample drafted by ABLE attorneys. Ensuring that all residents are stably housed is essential to the continued success of slowing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting the community as a whole.
ABLE is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self-reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity. People can apply for legal assistance by calling 888-534-1432 or visiting www.legalaidline.org.