HOUSE APPROVES RENTAL PROTECTION BILL
FRANKFORT— Tenants plotting revenge on a landlord who evicts them might think twice before doing so if Senate Bill 11 becomes law. The Kentucky House of Representatives approved SB 11 today. If the Senate concurs on a slight change the House made to a definition in the bill, it will be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.
SB 11 would specify in statute that intentionally causing significant damage to a rental property is criminal mischief.
“It’s not for things like nail holes or common wear and tear,” said Rep. C. Ed Massey, R-Hebron, on the House floor. “This is for circumstances where premises have been left with food in refrigerators that were unplugged, holes punched into walls, feces on the floor and all kinds of bizarre scenarios that cost these rental property owners thousands upon thousands of dollars to repair.”
Massey said SB 11 would make intentional damage totaling to more than $1,000 a class D felony.
Although criminal mischief law already addresses this issue to a degree, Massey said this would give property owners the opportunity to seek restitution for the damage.
In explaining her vote, Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, D-Louisville, expressed concern about how this bill might impact domestic violence victims since holes punched in the walls and food left in unplugged refrigerators can often indicate a domestic violence situation.
“They can easily be the situation of someone who’s fleeing their abuser, who has to flee very quickly, and then an abuse survivor who is on the lease with an abusive partner can be held liable for the damages that the abusive partner caused,” Cantrell said.
The House approved SB 11 by a 75-17 vote. It will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.
CLERK OF COURTS UPDATE: EVICTIONS SUMMONS
In January of this year, the Clerk of Courts launched two new tools to help landlords and tenants navigate the eviction process. A newly designed eviction summons was sent out starting in early January. The previous summons was written in difficult to understand legalese and was confusing regarding the basic eviction process. The new summons is more readable and easier to understand. The Clerk of Courts partnered with the Stanford Legal Design lab to redesign the new summons and will be observing its effectiveness in increasing appearance rates at evictions hearings.
At the beginning of January, the Clerk of Courts in partnership with Stanford, launched a newly designed Help Center website and a one of a kind Eviction Help website. The new Help Center website was created to increase access to legal information and step-by-step guides covering all Municipal Court issues. The Eviction Help website covers housing issues in depth. It provides step by step guides to landlords and tenants through each step of the eviction process as well as sample forms and “how-to” maps. COVID has made the need for greater access to remote options more important. The website is on a platform that is designed specifically to communicate complex legal issues in an understandable way. Check out the new Help Center Website at cincyhelpcenter.org and the Eviction Help Website at cincyhelpcenter.org/housing.
To download a sample of the newly designed form(s), click here.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY GRANT AVAILABLE TO CINCINNATI PROPERTIES WITH LOW INCOME RESIDENTS
The City of Cincinnati and Duke Energy Ohio announce The Energy Efficiency Matching Grant Program for owners of multifamily buildings with low-income tenants. The grant is focused on electricity efficiency for buildings with two or more units that have tenants at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The grant is part of the suite of energy efficiency and energy equity programs being created by Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability to achieve the Green Cincinnati Plan's goal of reducing household energy burden by 10%.
The Energy Efficiency Matching Grant Program provides multifamily building owners an opportunity to double the impact of their energy efficiency upgrades by matching their investment, up to $5,000, on capital improvements. The grant is funded by Duke Energy Ohio. Applicants can be non-profit organizations or for-profit corporations. Grant application, criteria and funding guidelines can be downloaded below:
Grant criteria and funding guidelines
Grant evaluation example
Materials can also be found on the OES website. All application materials are due by Friday, December 4 at 5 p.m. and must be submitted to email@example.com
NAA RESPONDS TO CDC EVICTION MORATORIUM
As you know, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the direction of the President, filed an order in the Federal Register yesterday to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. National Apartment Association (NAA) members should prepare for the order to go into effect this Friday, September 4. It will bar evictions of renters in residential housing until December 31, 2020. Here is what you need to know about the order.
CINCINNATI RENTAL REGISTRATION REQUIREMENT FORMS AND FAQS
Notice of Rental Registration Requirement Letter
FAQs - Residential Rental Registration (RRR), City of Cincinnati
Notice of Residential Rental Inspection Certification Requirement (sample)
FAQs- Residential Rental Inspection (RRI) Program
Residential Rental Inspection Program Pre-Inspection Guide & Checklist
Cincinnati Rental Connection
Letter from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regarding Coronavirus
CINCINNATI RENTERS CHOICE
The City of Cincinnati has passed new legislation regarding the newly minted term "Renters Choice." The law purports to lower the financial threshold to housing, making it easier for renters to access better housing options. The link to the Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial article covers the details pretty well. This will go into effect approximately mid-April 2020. A copy of the final version of the language is here.
Over the past several months there have been multiple versions of this bill, with the first giving a single company a mandated monopoly. The association repeatedly stated opposition to the bill, even meeting with the Enquirer Editorial Board. Numerous changes were included to improve the bill, including several exemptions. There has been no hew and cry for a resolution to security deposits, instead it has been a manufactured problem with a solution that places some owners at increased risk. Ideally, the law minimizes who is at risk, but it still places owners at risk with additional regulation and private enforcement.
In short, if you own or control more than 25 rental units in the City of Cincinnati, and require a security deposit greater than 50% of the 1st month’s rent, then you need to provide one or more options for your customers to choose between paying the deposit upfront or:
As this was a straightforward bill, there are no additional regulations planned. To be clear there are 2 key exemptions from having to provide one of the alternatives:
A few additional considerations:
Additional comments will be added to the Legislative page as new considerations are raised.
HUD GUIDANCE ON EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS
HUD has finally released its long awaited guidance on Service/Support animals on January 28th, 2020. Rather than acknowledging that the Justice Department, which handles the overarching ADA law, would be the best to handle the regulations, HUD justified its own need to weigh in under the Fair Housing Act. The irony is that they even recognized in the guidance that their previous guidance has caused over 60% of the lawsuits and complaints they deal with are all related to their bastardization of Emotional Support Animals from the very real and necessary WORK performed by Service Animals. So much fraud has entered this arena that over 37 states are considering or passed laws to mitigate some of the abuses under HUD’s previous guidance.
While the 19 page guidance (here) is still under industry review for its impact, I would like to lower your expectations on there being a resolution any time soon, by sharing this one sentence on page 16, “Housing providers may not require health care professionals to use a specific form (including this document)…” In other words, owner/operators cannot cite the guidance document that HUD is using to guide the owner/operators…
Only in government…
As industry guidance is developed to make sense of this latest mess, we will share it! Hang in there.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL UPDATE
The government, specifically the State of Ohio, through the Civil Rights Commission, has approved a new Emotional Support Animal document. Please find linked 6 pages of muddled up confusion over the definitions and requirements for all involved. One more thing the GCNKAA will work on correcting...
FAKE SERVICE DOG IDS USED TO TRAVEL WITH PETS
Stretching the rules to take pets into grocery stores, amusement parks and restaurants has become so commonplace that online merchants are selling official-looking service animal certificates and vests for as little as $50. For full story, click here.
METROPOLITAN SEWER DISTRICT SEWER BACKUP CLAIM FORM
Use this form in the event of losses due to sewer backups in the MSD service region.
NAA EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL TOOLKIT NOW AVAILABLE
The National Apartment Association (NAA) has recently released the “NAA Toolkit, Emotional Support Animals: A Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Requests.” Property owners have seen a significant increase in reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals in recent years and are concerned about possible abuse. While NAA seeks legislative and regulatory solutions to address concerns, NAA felt it was important to provide members with resources giving practical guidance on this emerging issue.
As background, a lack of clarity in federal regulations opens the door for abuse and imposes an unfair burden on property owners, undermining the intent of the Fair Housing Act to help those truly in need of an emotional support animal. In cases where a property owner may request documentation on the disability-related need for an emotional support animal, the regulations allow for a broad range of individuals to provide the verification. These individuals include a physician, psychiatrist, social worker or other mental health professional.
Additionally, an individual certifying the resident’s need for an emotional support animal is not required to have an actual treatment relationship with the resident. In some cases, the documentation supplied to property owners is in the form of a letter purchased online for a fee. This documentation may be obtained with little or no contact with a mental health professional, other than a brief consultation, and not as a result of an actual treatment relationship.
In light of these concerns, NAA organized a working group of members, affiliated association staff and attorneys specializing in fair housing to collaborate on resources to help members navigate this complicated issues; the resources are compiled in the toolkit, including:
RENTAL DROP BOX – WARNING
Several years ago a group of self-proclaimed “gypsys” was travelling through Ohio and created quite a stir by perfecting the theft of checks and money orders from rental drop boxes. Cincinnati has been updated to consider these types of crimes as a regular threat from organized and non-organized criminal elements.
PLEASE BE AWARE: Utilize lighting and video, as well as regular clearing of the drop boxes, to help minimize the threat.
If additional reports occur, we will recommend the temporary suspension of these boxes.
Internal boxes are safer, but not perfect.
If your community has been hit by this kind of theft recently, please let us know.
Thank you for your attention to this issue!
JOINT ADVISORY MEMO REGARDING CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS NOW REQUIRED UNDER THE OHIO FIRE CODE
New provisions in the 2017 Ohio Fire Code (OFC) address the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in educational buildings, certain residential structures (including apartments, dormitories and hotels), and health care institutional facilities. This life saving detection equipment is required in new and existing buildings in certain instances where CO sources exist. When required in new buildings, CO alarms must be interconnected and receive power from the buildings wiring. However, when required in existing buildings, in an effort to minimize costs to property owners, the OFC only requires battery operated CO alarms without interconnection to building alarm systems.
This advisory statement is an overview only of these new CO provisions, but will serve as a good starting point for determining when and where CO is required. However, code enforcement officials and property owners/operators should analyze each building on a case by case basis when determining if CO detection is required or where detectors must be placed. For a full analysis of all CO related OFC provisions, please see OFC §§ 915 and 1103.9, and review the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshal’s (SFM) Technical Bulletin 18-001 “Carbon Monoxide Detectors in New and Existing Buildings” (TB 18-001).
This and other technical bulletins can be found on the SFM’s website (https://www.com.ohio.gov/fire/, under the “Ohio Fire Code” and then “Technical Bulletins” tabs).
First and foremost, when determining if CO detection is required, it is important to determine what occupancy category a building is. As stated above, the new rules only apply to health care institutional facilities (i.e., I-1, I-2, and I-4 occupancies), residential structures including apartments, dormitories and hotels (i.e., R occupancies), and educational buildings (i.e., E occupancies). The new CO rules do not affect any other occupancy categories. So, if a particular building does not fall into one of these occupancy categories, the new CO provisions will not apply.
If a building is one of the relevant occupancies, CO detection may now be required; but it will only be required if one of four specific conditions exist in the building. Therefore, the second determination to be made is whether or not one of the four conditions exist in the building. The four conditions are:
If one of these conditions does exist in a building, CO will be required in the affected dwelling units, sleeping units, and classrooms within that building. However, conditions 2, 3, and 4 all have exceptions. So, the next question will be – do any of the exceptions apply? The exceptions are fully reviewed in TB 18-001 but they boil down to one over-riding principle: if the first area served by the CO generating appliance has a CO detector or if there are no communicating openings between the appliance and the dwelling unit, sleeping unit or classroom, the provisions of the OFC will be met and separate CO detectors will not also have to be placed in each dwelling unit, sleeping unit or classroom served by that same appliance. To put it another way – if the CO will be detected at the source (via a detector installed per manufacturer’s specifications in the room where the appliance is) or if there are no pathways (i.e., ducts) for the CO to travel to the units or rooms, the individual units and rooms do not require additional CO detectors.
If there are communicating openings and CO detection is not provided in the room where the appliance is located, CO detection will have to be installed in dwelling units, sleeping units or classrooms. So, if CO is required in a sleeping unit, dwelling unit, or classroom because there is no detection in the first area served, the final question is: where does the detector have to be installed? Detectors should be installed as follows:
Dwelling Units (See OFC § 915.2.1.)
If a dwelling unit is required to have CO detection, the detection has to be installed in the dwelling unit outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. If a fuel-burning appliance is located within a bedroom or its attached bathroom, the detection must be installed within the bedroom.
Sleeping Units (See OFC § 915.2.2.)
If a sleeping unit is required to have CO detection the detection must be installed in the sleeping unit. The only exception to this provision is where the sleeping unit or its attached bathroom does not contain a fuel-burning appliance and is not served by a forced air furnace. If the sleeping unit or its attached bathroom does not contain a fuel-burning appliance and are not served by a forced air furnace the CO detection can be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping unit. If the sleeping unit or an attached bathroom does contain a fuel-burning appliance or is served by a forced air furnace, the CO detection will have to be located in the sleeping unit.
Classrooms in Group E (See OFC § 915.2.3.)
If a classroom is required to have CO detection, the detection must be installed in the classroom. Unless the occupant load is 30 or less, alarm signals must be automatically transmitted to an on-site location that is staffed by school personnel. If the occupant load is 30 or less, the signal does not have to be automatically transmitted. If the occupant load is over 30, automatic transmission is required. If carbon monoxide detection is required, it must be provided by either a CO alarm or a CO detection system. (See OFC § 915.3.) The new code provisions set forth specific parameters that each must meet, including they must be listed and they must be maintained in accordance with applicable NFPA standards (i.e., 2015 NFPA 720). See OFC §§ 915.3 - 915.6.
If you have any questions regarding the new CO rules contained in OFC §§ 915 and 1103.9 or their application to a particular building or CO detector placement, please contact the SFM’s Code Enforcement Bureau: 8895 E. Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068; Phone: (614) 728- 5460; Fax: (614) 728-5168; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional resources regarding these new OFC CO detection requirements, please see the Q and A page and the flow chart attached here and TB 18-001.