Posted December 16, 202110:49 am
The eviction crisis in the United States escalated during the pandemic. According to the National Housing Law Project, as many as 30 to 40 million Americans currently face eviction. Increased tenant rights and protections are needed nationwide. City-wide “pay to stay” ordinances could help tenants who are facing eviction for non-payment of rent to stay in their homes.
Ohio is one of five states that allows landlords to file for eviction almost right after a tenant misses a rent payment. The landlords must give a tenant a three-day notice to vacate the property for non-payment. Then, the landlord is not required to accept rent. According to the Cleveland Eviction Study, around 9,000 evictions are filed each year in Cleveland. Of those, about 80% are for non-payment of rent. In most cases, tenants only missed one to two months of rent.
“Pay to stay” ordinances give tenants facing eviction the chance to pay their rent in full, including late fees, up until their eviction hearing. If tenants can make these payments to their landlord before going to court, the tenant has the right to remain in their homes according to “pay to stay” ordinances.
Under most “pay to stay” ordinances, if a landlord sends a three-day notice to vacate but has not filed an eviction yet, the tenant may offer all back rent and late fees to their landlord. If the landlord refuses the payment, the tenant can use that as a defense if the landlord files an eviction. If an eviction was already filed, the tenant should ask the court to hold their payments in escrow until their eviction hearing. This means the tenant would pay rent to the court and the court would hold the money until the case was resolved.
Ohio cities that have passed pay to stay ordinances are Yellow Springs, Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati, Lakewood, and Euclid.
Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, Maple Heights, Newburgh Heights, and Akron have all introduced “pay to stay” legislation, but no laws have been passed yet.
Written by Hunter Butkovic
This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 37, Issue 1, in Fall 2021. See full issue at this link: “The Alert” – Volume 37, Issue 1 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (lasclev.org).