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Cleveland City Council passes 'Pay to Stay' legislation to protect renters from evictions

The 'Pay to Stay' ordinance allows residents to remain in their homes if they pay all past due rent with late fees and court costs to landlords before a judgement.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation it says will help protect renters facing evictions.

The "Pay to Stay" ordinance codifies existing Ohio law and allows residents to remain in their homes if they pay all past due rent with late fees and court costs to landlords before an eviction judgement comes down. If landlords refuse to accept such payments, then renters can use that as a defense against an eviction notice.

Under two amendments added to the bill, tenants can obtain assistance vouchers guaranteeing payments of overdue rent from government agencies or accredited social services or nonprofits, which can now be used in their defense. In addition, "late fees" cannot be larger than 5% of monthly rent, with a minimum payment of $25. 

"I will tell every landlord that this is not meant to punish them, this is not meant to saddle them with a bad tenant," Council President Blaine A. Griffin told 3News Thursday. "This is basically another tool to make sure that a third party or others can come in and pay that tender on behalf of those residents."

You can read the full ordinance below:

According to Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb, Ohio is one of five states in the country that allows landlords to file eviction notices "if tenants are one day late or one dollar short on rent," and this legislation will help prevent that within the city. The mayor served as a co-sponsor of the bill, and is expected to sign it at a later date.

"Today, we took a big step toward housing justice and promoting equity in the City of Cleveland," Bibb said in a statement. "And we won't stop here. I am grateful to our Director of Building and Housing, Sally Martin, City Council, and all the community partners for their diligence and hard work on this critical legislation."

WKYC reached out to several landlord groups throughout Northeast Ohio, but did not receive any comments regarding the ordinance. Still, City Council insists this is a good deal for both barties.

"The landlords will always be made whole," Griffin declared, "and that's something that they should take, you know, a little bit of a victory lap on."

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