Toledo landlords can no longer reject tenants based on ‘source of income’

“Discrimination Prohibited” and “Pay to Stay” ordinances were updated, easing issues for many renters
“Discrimination Prohibited” and “Pay to Stay” ordinances were updated, easing issues for many renters
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo City Council meeting Tuesday night included hefty discussion and passage of two major ordinances prohibiting housing discrimination based on a renter’s means of payment and allowing renters a defense to “Pay to Stay” in their current housing situation.

In an 8-4 vote, council members repealed Toledo Municipal Code Ch. 54, entitled “Discrimination Prohibited” and replaced it with a new chapter of the same name that now adds “source of income” as a category a landlord cannot use to discriminate against potential renters.

That includes landlords who previously excluded those with Section 8 or other types of federal housing vouchers from applying for housing, something Sarah Jenkins, Director of Public Policy & Community Engagement for The Fair Housing Center says was a prevalent issue.

“A lot of times people with these non-traditional sources of income, particularly vouchers, are turned away or are denied housing even though they can pay their rent, even though they meet all the other criteria, they are turned away simply because they don’t have traditional income,” explains Jenkins. “What this protection does, is it says that can’t be the reason why a landlord turns somebody away or denies them housing.”

Councilmember Nick Komives has been working with the Fair Housing Center on this legislation since December 2018, something he says was brought to his attention by citizens at the beginning of his career on council.

“When you look at postings on Craigslist, so many of them would say ‘no section 8′ allowed or ‘no housing choice vouchers permitted,’ so we know right away they’re being discriminated against,” says Komives.“This is a federally backed payment of rent, meaning on the first of every month a landlord is going to get a deposit in their account, and these tenants are vetted by LMH.”

Another councilmember, Ron Ludeman, spoke out against the passage of the ordinance, stating there was not enough time given for discussions on the hardships for landlords this may create.

“What bothered me most about some of the presentations by the social service organizations was the insinuation, and I felt it several times, that landlords are the source of almost all evils in the city of Toledo,” said Ludeman.

Komives argues he’s seen major progress made in the last two years, making the required inspection process easier and faster for landlords considering a housing application from someone using alternative payment such as a federal voucher.

“The process is a lot smoother now. Many of the things landlords experienced three, four, five years ago are things they won’t be experiencing now,” explains Komives, who also clarified the new ordinance does not require landlords to accept all applications for housing from those using vouchers either, but rather eliminates the option of prohibiting someone from applying based on that income.

The program officially takes effect 120 days from now to give tenants and landlords time to adjust to the new ordinance.

The council also unanimously approved a new version of the “Pay to Stay” legislation, which allows tenants and landlords attempting to evict them to finalize their dispute in court, with tenants able to use the defense that paying their rent and late fees at a later date should allow them the right to stay in their current housing situation.

This is also something Komives was passionate about passing for the Toledo community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don’t want people to have to go into eviction because they weren’t able to pay their rent during COVID because they lost their job. We wanted to create an avenue that would allow landlords and tenants a better opportunity to work with one another to come to that solution,” adds Komives. “Frankly if someone has the amount of money required to pay their rent they ought to be able to stay in the place they’re living.”

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