Tenants in Ohio Have Options but are Still Required to Pay Rent

Ohioans who lease their homes or apartments have some options when it comes to paying rent during the COVID shutdown but, in the end, the rent will still be due.

DeWine signed an order on April 1 that asks commercial lenders to delay collecting rents from businesses for at least 90 days. This, however, does nothing for residential tenants who may be struggling to stay current.

Ohio courts have been asked that landlords and property managers delay eviction and foreclosure proceedings to help the jobless during the pandemic.

Section 4024 of the CARES Act provides a temporary eviction moratorium as well as a moratorium on fees and penalties related to nonpayment of rent for those living in federally-subsidized housing. This also goes for those living in a property where a landlord holds a federally backed mortgage. This was signed into law on March 27, 2020.

The CARES Act states that renters cannot be served with an eviction notice until July 25, 2020 and that the notice must provide 30 days to leave the property.

According to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, tenants are still legally obligated to pay their rent right now under their lease agreements just like they always would be. However, late fees and penalties cannot be charged during this time and that landlords are not allowed to turn off utilities, change locks, or throw out possessions because someone is behind on rent.

About  32 percent of total households in Ohio are rentals, according to 2017 statistics. In the last five weeks, 964,556 Ohioans have been placed out of work as a result of the state lockdown.

According to a Central Ohio property manager, some tenants were under the impression that rents could go unpaid during the state lockdown. Mark Hanes, who manages about 500 units, said once renters became aware that rents would still need paid, most have been able to stay current.

“Some of the people were confused in the beginning of all this and they thought they wouldn’t need to pay rent at all, that the government would be paying for them,” said the property manager. Hanes said that special payment arrangements are often made for those who fall behind.

Legal Aid Society of Columbus has COVID-19 legal updates and community resources that can be accessed here.

Courtney Valine, who manages a complex in East Ohio consisting of about 90 units, said only a couple renters have fallen behind since the economy shut down and those were brought current when stimulus checks were received.

Valine said that the complex has always worked with renters who fall behind, and even more so now that many people are not bringing in a paycheck.

In terms of helping to pay rent, the CARES Act provides the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with an additional $17.4 billion in funding including monies for rent assistance, housing vouchers, public housing, and housing for the elderly.

Our apologies to Rep. Jay Edwards for an error in a previous article that mistakenly paraphrased the representative as saying that a state moratorium prevents landlords from evicting due to late payments.

The Legal Aid Society of Columbus should have been credited with stating that landlords are not allowed to turn off utilities, change locks, or throw out possessions because someone is behind on rent, not Rep. Edwards.