Tenant Criminalization Legislation

COHHIO is currently fighting a bill at the Statehouse that would increase criminal penalties on tenants who damage rental property and ban anyone convicted from access to public housing or Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) for three years.

This unbalanced bill could result in criminal charges against tenants, even in cases where they were not responsible for any damage. And just the fact that a charge is filed – even if the tenant is exonerated – will make it even harder for them to find housing and jobs in the future. House Bill 282 creates a scheme for landlords to use the court system like their own private collection agencies to file property damage cases, prosecute them, secure a judgement, collect restitution and return it to the landlord.

Worse yet, this legislation would give unscrupulous landlords a new tool to extort money from tenants by threatening them with criminal prosecution unless they pay for damage, regardless of who may be at fault.

So please join us in fighting House Bill 282 by adding your organization’s name to this sign-on letter to members of the Ohio General Assembly. The bill hasn’t yet been voted on, but we need a significant show of opposition to make sure it remains just a bad idea.

By passing this bill, the state would be putting the butcher’s thumb on the delicate balance between the rights of landlords and tenants. The state should not pick winners and losers in what is a basic business transaction between two private parties.