choosing the rental home

Success in Rental Housing: Know the Law

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A workshop for homeseekers and home search professionals

Tuesday, March 5th 5 PM-7 PM.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Center

3450 Lee Road


Welcome, Introductions, Take the Pretest!-Lisa Gold Scott, Assistant Law Director, City of Shaker Heights

Housing in the City of Shaker Heights-Lisa Gold Scott

Basic Landlord Tenant Rights and Duties-Philip D. Star, President, Cleveland Tenants Organization.

  • Landlord Duties

  • Security Deposits, Other deposits and fees

  • Questions and Discussion

Introduction to D. Star

Screen prospective landlords! Emily Van Buren, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and Lisa Gold-Scott

Evaluating property conditions

  • What are Housing Quality Standards?- Emily Van Buren

  • How does SH code enforcement work?-Lisa Gold-Scott

Recognizing Discrimination-Spencer Wells, Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

  • Protected Classes

  • Reasonable Accommodations and Reasonable Modifications

  • "Difference in Treatment" Possible Signs of Discrimination

  • Where to go for help if you suspect discrimination

General Question and Discussion, TAKE THE POST TEST Pre/post test answers at

Shaker Heights Fair Housing Board schedules free workshop March 5  more here.

What happened?
Twelve participants came to the workshop.  Participants were about evenly mixed between landlords, tenants and social service providers.  A good deal of time was spent is a dialogue between presenters and landlord participants around duties and rental agreements.  Emily gave a power point presentation (see appended at the bottom of this page) on homeseeking skills.  Roberta Witt from Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority made a case for letting the HCV program "do more than help you pay your rent"  The mobility feature means that HCV tenants can seek..better schools, closer to job opportunities.

Pre Post Test Results
Only 5 of the participants turned in pre and post tests.  Pre test average was 6 correct; post test average was 6.6 correct.  We think the post test results were a little depressed because not all of the topics were covered completely due to time constraints.

Question and Discussion

1. what can you say in a reference?  There's nothing in either FH or Ohio Landlord Tenant Laws governing references.  A good rule of thumb is to give information about objective facts and avoid opinions and emotions.

2. Landlord changed terms for Security Deposit after credit report.  Not a violation of the fair housing act unless there is a difference in treatment based on a protected class.  Challenging a denial based on a credit report can help you figure out what is really going on.  Ask for specifics-what are your standards for evaluating credit?  what part of the credit report presented a problem?

3. Can a loandlord make a denial based on smoking?  Smoking is not a protected class, but landlord is advised to make a list of criteria BEFORE INTERVIEWING and then hold all applicants to the same criteria.  Don't wait til a smoker shows up to decide you don't want smokers.

4. Is there a cap on rent increases?  In Ohio there is no cap on rent or a rent increase, but a rent increase that is unexpected or seems like it is not based on "market" may raise some red flags.  If a tenant moves because of a rent increase and later finds that the property is being offered at a lower rate-maybe there's grounds for a fair housing complaint.

5. What is a landlord makes an intrusive entry.   Lisa from Shaker Heights described a recent case where single women were subjected to intrusive inspections and male headed households were not.  There are also protections in the Ohio Landlord Tenant Law for inspections that "have the effect of harassment."

6. Can a landlord restrict water use-eg. no car washing.  As long as the provision is part of the rental agreement and is not "unconscionable."

7. Is there a  statute of limitations on bringing a claim for wrongful wthholding? The answer will differ based on many factors, such as whether lease was written or oral, and other issues like when to start counting?  Legal advice based on the specific facts of the case is recommended. 

8.  What happens to a tenant who is renting a house that is foreclosed?  Protection of Tenants in Foreclosure Act (PTFA) is a Federal law that permits a tenant in good standing who is not related to the foreclosed party to continue to live in the property under the terms of the existing lease or, if the tenant is month to month is allowed to continue on a month to month basis with a requirement of a 90 days notice to terminate.
  See materials attached at the bottom of this webpage.

This workshop is sponsored by: COHHIO and CTO, in partnership with the City of Shaker Heights Fair Housing Review Board.  Funding is provided under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Spencer Wells,
Mar 17, 2013, 12:18 PM
Spencer Wells,
Mar 17, 2013, 11:59 AM
Spencer Wells,
Mar 17, 2013, 12:15 PM