The COVID-19 emergency has created uncertainty for many Ohio renters. However, federal and local authorities have taken steps that may help you.
Can I be evicted if I was unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 emergency?
The answer is yes. The U.S. Supreme Court ended the CDC Eviction Moratorium on Thursday, August 26th.
Get help paying your rent. Ohio has allocated funding to Community Action Agencies to provide rent, mortgage and water and/or sewer assistance to Ohioans in need in all 88 counties. This assistance can help Ohioans pay outstanding balances back to April 1, 2020.
Ohio households behind on their bills with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for assistance.
You can get up to 12 months of past due rent and up to 3 months of future rent. There is no cap to the amount of assistance you can receive.
You can apply for rental assistance now through your local community action agency.
Contact legal aid. If you are facing eviction, legal aid may be able to help you. To apply for legal aid, look up your local legal aid's contact information here. Apply online or over the phone.
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.
Ohio has allocated funding to Community Action Agencies to provide rent, mortgage and water and/or sewer assistance to Ohioans in need in all 88 counties. This assistance can help Ohioans pay outstanding balances back to April 1, 2020. Ohio households behind on their bills with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will be eligible for assistance. You can apply for rental assistance now through 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. Most utility shut-off moratoriums in Ohio have ended, but you may be able to avoid having your utilities shut off if you communicate with your provider. If you can't pay your utility bill, reach out to your provider to ask for a payment plan.
If you need help paying for heating your home, you may be eligible for HEAP benefits. Contact your local Community Action Agency for assistance with applying for these benefits.
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.