CINCINNATI (WKRC) – An estimated 33 eviction notices are filed every day in Hamilton County alone right now, or nearly 8% of all rental properties. But help could come for those who have had an eviction on their record and can't rent a new home.
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Pavan Parikh implemented a new policy in May, removing eviction records closed through full payment or otherwise dismissed going back three years. It matches similar programs in Columbus and Dayton.
Public records remain, and evictions still show up on a thorough background or credit check. But many landlords only check the clerk's website for past evictions, and many evictions are filed for reasons that weren't even the tenant's fault, says Parikh.
"When we talked to our community partners and heard of all the different ways that simply having it filed can be a black mark that stays with people for the rest of their lives, we looked for solutions that we could use to alleviate some of that while still maintaining the records as we need to maintain them," he said.
Parikh estimates 400,000 past eviction records dating back to 1998 were removed. About 11,000 records will roll off the website annually in future years.
Nick DiNardo, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, says the move will help people get better access to housing, especially in Cincinnati's very tight rental market.
"It's going to be very helpful,” DiNardo said. “We see a lot of tenants who have perfect eviction records having difficulty finding an apartment right now. So if something happens due to circumstances beyond the tenant's control -- job loss, illness, that sort of thing -- it may be nearly impossible for them to find a decent apartment if they have just one eviction on their record.”
Parikh says the general assembly in Columbus is also considering a bill that would expunge such records after three years.
And in other eviction news, Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Dwayne Mallory Tuesday ruled in favor of the City of Cincinnati and its “pay to stay” ordinance. City Council passed the ordinance last year, allowing renters to show a voucher indicating they were getting rental assistance as part of the stimulus to pay off rent to stave off evictions.
But as Local 12 reported in March, Hamilton County magistrate judges refused to honor the ordinance and continued to evict those even getting rental aid.
Tuesday, Mallory ruled the city ordinance was within Cincinnati’s home rule and should be honored.
"It doesn't just help tenants who are represented, which is a small percentage of them, but it should help all tenants who can pay the landlord and make them whole or get rental assistance," said DiNardo, whose organization filed the objection and appeal over the magistrates’ position.
Mallory's decision goes into effect immediately, meaning the pay to stay ordinance should now be in effect in all eviction hearings in court.