Housing

COVID-19 Renter Protections

If you’re behind in your rent because of the COVID-19 emergency you are not alone. Thousands of tenants in Ohio are in the same position. Read more to learn about eviction protections and get answers to common questions about renting during COVID-19.

This page was last updated 7.27.20.

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Understanding the Basics

See what you need to know to take action.

The COVID-19 emergency has created uncertainty for many Ohio renters. However, federal and local authorities have taken steps that may help you.

Covid-19 Quick Tips

If you are facing eviction take the following actions to prevent eviction: 

  • Stay in your home. In Ohio, your landlord must file a court case in order to have you evicted from your home. This process can take four to six weeks, so you have a right to stay in your home. 
  • Get help paying rent.  A number of local Community Action Agencies (CAA) and United Ways have financial assistance available to help with back rent. You can find your local CAA or United Way on this page under Local Government and Community Resources.
  • Contact legal aid.  If you are facing eviction, legal aid may be able to help you. To apply for legal aid, please apply online or over the phone. 

Can I be evicted during the COVID-19 emergency?

The answer is maybe. It depends on if you qualify for the new federal eviction moratorium.

How do I know if I qualify for the federal eviction moratorium?
A new federal law called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides for a 120-day eviction moratorium (March 27, 2020 through July 25, 2020) for tenants who are facing eviction. The moratorium does not apply to evictions filed before March 27, 2020.

To qualify for the moratorium the eviction must be for non-payment of rent or other fees or charges and one of the following must apply:

  • You live in public housing;
  • You get federal help to pay your rent, like through a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher or Rural Development Voucher;
  • You live in multifamily housing (5 units or more) supported by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties);
  • You live in multifamily housing (5 units or more) covered by a federally-backed mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac; or,
  • You live in single family housing (1 to 4 units) that is covered by a federally-backed mortgage through the FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  

You can find the detailed list of all covered housing under the CARES Act here.

If you live in public housing or multifamily housing search the National Low Income Housing Coalition look-up tool to see if your home is covered by the moratorium.

If you live in single family housing, you may need to ask your landlord. Your landlord will know the type of mortgage they have. For FHA, VA and USDA mortgages, you may be able to look up the original mortgage online at your County Recorder's website. The mortgage may state that it was backed by FHA, VA or USDA. Some older USDA mortgages will state Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) instead of USDA. For mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, only your landlord can use their look up websites to see if your home is covered by the moratorium.  

If you get federal help to pay your rent and are unsure if the moratorium applies, you can check with the agency that issued your voucher. For example, for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher you should check with your public housing agency.

How does the federal eviction moratorium help me?

If you qualify for the moratorium your landlord can’t evict you for non-payment of rent or other fees and charges during the moratorium period (March 27, 2020 through July 25, 2020). 

What happens when the federal eviction moratorium ends on July 25th? 

If you qualify for the moratorium, after July 25, 2020, your landlord can serve you a notice to leave. But, the notice to leave must give you at least 30 days to move from your home. After the 30-day period your landlord can file an eviction with the court. This court process can take four to six weeks. You have a right to stay in your home during this process.  

Where can I get help for my eviction?

It can be hard to fight an eviction on your own. If you have received an eviction notice or court papers you should contact your local legal aid immediately. Not from Ohio and need information about eviction protections in your state? You can find COVID-19 eviction information for your state at LegalFaq.org.    

Where can I get help with paying my rent?

You may be able to get rental assistance from an agency through 211/United Way or your local Community Action Agency.

If you get federal help to pay your rent, like through a section 8 housing choice voucher or live in public or subsidized housing, you should  ask for an "interim recertification" to reduce your rent.

Even if you qualify for the moratorium or if your eviction has been delayed, your past due rent still needs to be paid. You should use this time to negotiate with your landlord to see if you can arrange a payment plan. Get any agreement in writing.

Can my landlord lock me out of my home or turn off my utilities?

The answer is no. A landlord is not allowed to change your locks or shut off your utilities to force you out. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are in your rent. It doesn't matter what kind of fight you’re having with your landlord. In Ohio, it is illegal for a landlord to change your locks or shut off your utilities as a way of forcing you to leave. It’s against the law for them to even threaten to do these things. Instead, if your landlord wants you out, they must follow the eviction timeline and process of the court.

Read more about what to do if your landlord locks you out of your home.

Can my utilities be shut off for non-payment?

The answer is maybe. As Ohio reopens, some utility shut-off moratoriums are ending. 

Electricity and Gas

  • AEP Ohio. AEP Ohio will resume disconnections in September 2020.
  • Ohio Edison / First Energy. Ohio Edison / First Energy will resume disconnections on September 15, 2020.
  • Columbia Gas. Columbia Gas will resume disconnections on July 29, 2020.
  • If you receive service from another provider, check their website to learn more about when they plan to resume shut-offs.

Water

The state-wide order to stop water shut-offs ended on July 10, 2020. Some cities are continuing to stop water shut-offs during the state of emergency, but others are starting shut-offs now. Check with your local water supplier to learn about their plan to resume shut-offs. 

Does my landlord need to make repairs?

The answer is yes. Even if you are behind in rent, your landlord must continue to make repairs during the COVID-19 emergency. If repairs need to be made, make sure that you and any maintenance personnel take appropriate safety precautions. For instance, wearing masks and staying at least 6 feet away. Read more about the types of repairs your landlord is required to make here.

Can my landlord show my apartment?

The answer is yes. Ohio law allows a landlord to show your apartment after giving you at least 24 hours notice.  If you are worried about having people in your home because of COVID-19, offer to take pictures of your apartment and/or film a virtual tour of your home. Here are some tips:   

  • Make sure to put away anything with personal information like mail or bills, and valuables like cash or jewelry;
  • Tidy up and open your blinds; and, 
  • Email or text the images and/or video to your landlord.

If there is a model apartment or empty apartment, ask your landlord to show that unit instead.

If your landlord refuses and you have an underlying health condition that makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19, you may have a right to request a reasonable accommodation.  Learn more about reasonable accommodations here.

Forms and Letters

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Local Government and Community Resources

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