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Fair Housing and Rental Rights

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A free educational program for property owners, managers, tenants, & other interested citizens

Thursday, March 14th, 5PM-7PM

Lepper Library, 303 East Lincoln Way Lisbon, Ohio

Spencer Wells, Tenant Outreach Director, Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)

Topics to be covered

  • how do rental rights strengthen our community?
  • what are the rights and duties of landlords and tenants?
  • what are the protected classes under the fair housing acts?
  • what about reasonable accommodations and modifications for persons with disabilities?
  • what are the protections for households headed by women, or who have children under 18.

 What happened?
Five social service providers and Pamela Dray from the County Community Development Department came out AFTER WORK on a sunny March day to learn more about rental rights and fair housing.

How did they do?
Average score on pre test was 4.16; average post test score was 5.33.  A little more that one point improvement!

Questions and discussion
client denied because of criminal background-stuck in transitional housing? 
Criminal activity not protected under fair housing law, but social service provider/advocate might want to look at three factors
1.  ask for the written policy.  if no written policy, maybe the rule is not being applied evenly-ask for more information on what is the standard.  Sometimes just asking questions can reveal what's going on.
2.  if the applicant's criminal activity occurred as a result of a disability, then applicant could request a reasonable accommodation, eg.  person with bi-polar who had a run in with police could ask for RA.
3.  offset the deficiency-if there's no written standard, applicant can offer proof of good performance as a tenant since the criminal activity; may request a condition lease that requires tenant to engage in counseling during the term of the lease.  Maybe do a month to month lease to permit easier termination if tenant fails in a duty.

what are the limits to responding to a reasonable accommodation request?
There's no limit to the number of reasonable modification/accommodation requests that a tenant can make, however landlord may not grant an RA or RM if the request places an undue burden on the owner or property.  See

Is 11.30 AM a reasonable time for entry? 
Depends on the individual circumstances of the tenant.  A tenant's obligation under OLLTL is to "not unreasonably restrict the landlord's right of access"; therefore tenant could offer an alternative time when it would be reasonable to enter.

Found out we need a lawyer to evict!
that's right!  a partnership or corporation in Ohio must be represented by an attorney.

Tenant displaced by fire, does tenant still owe rent?
Fire does not relieve the owner of the property from complying with the duty to provide fit and habitable housing.  Usually what happens when a unit becomes uninhabitable is that both parties agree to terminate the rental agreement.  However, there are cases where tenant continues to pay and landlord provides alternate housing until the fire damage is corrected.

Presented by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the Columbiana County offices of Community Development and Fair Housing

Funding for this workshop is provided under a grant with the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development.