Cincinnati Might Ditch Tenant Security Deposits

Two thirds of the population of the city are renters

Cincinnati may do away with security deposits under a proposed bill and replace it with a requirement that landlords accept a security deposit insurance policy instead. The proposal could make Cincinnati the nation’s first locale to mandate a new option for renters to pay security deposits. Landlords and property owners aren’t fond of the proposed measure, but city officials believe the traditional security deposit format is in need of a serious revisiting. A security deposit in Cincinnati is typically the equivalent of single month’s rent. Lawmakers are citing what is a growing affordable housing crisis in the United States and maintain that the necessity to supply that a security deposit is a heavy burden to place on tenants.

The monthly rent for a typical one-bedroom apartment in Cincinnati was $850 in 2017. Two years later it’s risen to $1,300, with a 2-bedroom costing about $1,600 a month.

“This would keep money in the pockets of middle- and working-class Americans to be able to provide for their families,”  – Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley

With security-deposit insurance, a tenant signs a policy with an insurer and pays a monthly premium. The policy guarantees an amount of money would be given to the landlord if there’s damage to an apartment. The premiums cost less than the average security deposit in the city, with the only drawback being that renters don’t receive the money back, with interest, after they leave an apartment.

Although the measure has garnered support from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, fellow council members and property owners are skeptical about the proposal. According to Inman, some landlords at the first recent public hearing on the law indicated that the plan could possibly remove the incentive to take care of the property. Another point tabled was that tenants’ credit could also be at risk if they fall behind on insurance payments. There were also questions about what would occur if a claim was denied by an insurance company.

A second hearing has been scheduled for December 31. Are you a property manager or landlord in Cincinnati?  What do you think of this new law?

Quebec Landlords Introduce No Weed Clauses In Leases

July 1st, 2018 marks the day the drug will be legal, but landlords are taking steps to ban smoking and growing pot in units which fuels what will ultimately be a national debate

Under Quebec’s proposed marijuana law, residents will be allowed to use marijuana recreationally in their homes but won’t be permitted to grow cannabis for personal use. Many landlords have already sent notices to tenants informing them they won’t be allowed to smoke weed in their apartments. According to the CBC, landlords are introducing clauses and conditions to get a handle on what many, if not most, assume will be an emboldened and more casual approach to smoking pot.

Kevin Lebeau, a spokesperson for the Quebec Landlords Association, thinks most people find the odour and presence of marijuana unpleasant and believes landlords need to act in the best interest of all of their tenants – including many who he believes will be vehemently against it.

“It diminishes your enjoyment of your apartment. For some people it is a health issue and other people don’t want their children exposed to this at all.” -Kevin Lebeau

In a recent association poll, a majority of members anticipate a significant increase in tenant complaints. As a result, a comparable majority has also indicated they plan to prohibit smoking marijuana inside their buildings altogether. This has put them directly in conflict with various tenant rights groups across the province who are questioning whether the smoking prohibitions will be legal once marijuana itself is legalized. The tenants’ association of Sherbrooke, Que., argues that banning tenants from smoking marijuana inside their homes will be discriminatory after July 1st. Other tenant’s rights advocates argue that since they are paying for the apartment, they should be entitled to consume cannabis or cigarettes without fear of consequence. Any position to the contrary is discriminatory.

“The landlord doesn’t have the absolute right to do whatever he or she wants at any time.” – Kevin Wright, tenant’s rights advocate.

Opinion: Neither does the tenant

Here are the facts. As of right now, marijuana is nationally illegal. Most Canadians support legalization and regulation of what is widely perceived to be a generally benign substance that has been vilified and historically  mischaracterized in the media and by the government for decades. Many, if not most people, consider it something that has benefits for those who suffer and those same people, generally speaking, consider it to be a substance that is less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes, which are both legal and regulated, and have been for years.

There is no law preventing you from smoking or growing cannabis in a rented unit. If your consumption or growing of marijuana impedes the use or enjoyment of another tenant’s unit or creates an issue for the landlord themselves (the landlord reserves the right to have a preference for a smoke free building or unit), then there is a problem. The landlord can pursue a provincially supported judgement against the tenant or an eviction if that is the case, and they should have the right to do that.

We need to ask ourselves if anything is served by conveniently dismissing certain realities or creating false equivalencies when it comes to this issue. Societally, we appreciate the right to clean air, personal space, and health. That’s why we have laws when it comes to not smoking in restaurants, in cars with children, or on planes.

“Smoking” cannabis is defined as the inhalation of smoke or vapors released by heating the flowers, leaves, or extracts of cannabis and releasing the main psychoactive chemical, Δ9tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs. When you smoke weed, in most cases, the process is creating a smell. That smell comes from compounds made in the plant called terpenes or terpenoids. Not all weed stinks, but in the vast majority of cases, it will produce a noticeable scent. It can and often does, smell bad, and lingers in homes and apartments – much like cigarette smoke. It’s also a psychoactive substance. Exposure to the second hand smoke of cannabis is not exactly pleasant for anyone, kids or adults.

We put value on consideration and respect for other people’s rights to enjoying their environment and space. Why doesn’t that apply here? Because it is treated and increasingly categorized as a medicine for people? Because it is inevitably going to be legal? Because people have been unjustly jailed and discriminated against because of their weed habits? Because we feel people need to get over their own hang ups and misconceptions about a natural plant that has never been the cause of death when prescription drugs and booze kill more people in a day than weed ever has? Because the time is now to make people’s lives better with deserved access to something that will reduce suffering? All of the aforementioned might be true – but we got off topic pretty quickly there.

Alcohol is legal, however, if you were producing small batches of potato vodka out of your apartment without your landlord’s knowledge, and that process was impeding the enjoyment of the unit for others or created an elevation of fire risk or informed the environment in a way that was not in the interest of the owner (i.e. odour), would we be crying foul? What entitles us to do whatever we want in a rented apartment? If a landlord wants a smoke free environment, then why is that discriminatory? What is preventing people from smoking outside – like we ask them to do in most places like hospitals, libraries, or museums currently? You should be able to do whatever it is you like in a home you own, but when you’re renting, the landlord has a reasonable right to preserve the unit he is leasing to you and protect the interests and rights of the other people who do the same thing – because – they own the premises and assume most if not all of the risk. If you that doesn’t work for you, then you have the right to find a place that does.

 

Toledo’s Landlords Slow On Lead Safe Ordinance

In the summer of 2016, Toledo became the first city in Ohio to pass a law that prevents lead poisoning in the most at-risk children by requiring home inspections of rental properties. The “lead safe” ordinance calls for some rental properties built before 1978 to be inspected and deemed safe before leasing to tenants. Unfortunately, the city’s landlords have been slow off the mark. As it currently stands, landlords have until September 17, 2017 to gain the certification. Those who fail to comply are facing fines of $50 per day per dwelling unit with a maximum annual penalty of $10,000 per unit. Five months into Toledo’s passage of the law, only 22 properties have completed the steps necessary to be in compliance. As per the Toledo city paper; Chapter 1760 of the Toledo Municipal Code, also known as the Lead Safe Rental Ordinance:

The ordinance states that no property owner of a building built before 1978 with one to four rental units may permit people to live in the unit or provide child-care services in the structure without obtaining a lead-safe certificate for the property.

The average can of paint in the 1900s to around 1950 contained up to 50 percent lead carbonate. For 50 years, the U.S. used lead based paint extensively. 40 years ago, political leaders declared war on lead paint, citing evidence that even small amounts of lead can have awful effects on young brains, intellectual growth and cardiovascular, immune and hormone systems. The federal government began phasing out leaded gasoline in 1975, and banned lead-based household paints in 1978. In 2000, a federal strategy was deployed to end lead poisoning in children within a decade.

This all produced the desired effect. By 2006, blood lead levels in children under 6 had fallen to close to a tenth of their 1970s levels. But that positive momentum has since almost stopped. By the most recent estimate, about 37 million homes and apartments still have some lead paint on walls and woodwork, 23 million with potentially hazardous levels of lead in soil, paint chips or household dust. The Ohio Department of Health has identified 18 high risk ZIP codes in Lucas County. High risk ZIP codes contain at least one census tract where 12 percent or more of children tested in 2001 had blood lead levels of 10 micrograms and are further defined by demographic and socioeconomic data. One academic study predicted more than 3,400 children in Toledo have lead poisoning – an appalling statistic. The Ohio Department of Health estimates that approximately 19,000 children in Ohio have lead poisoning.

Any rental properties constructed prior to 1978 and in-home daycares constructed prior to 1978 will need to register with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and obtain a Lead-Safe Certificate. If a Local Lead Inspection takes place and the property passes upon the first inspection, the Lead-Safe Certificate is valid for six (6) years. If the property has undergone Lead Abatement in eliminating lead hazards consistent with the Ohio law, the LeadSafe Certificate is valid for twenty (20) years. According to the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, inspections are likely to cost somewhere between $200-400, depending on the inspector. Considering the circumstances, this is an ordinance that makes sense. The consequences of not complying with it are considerable.