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Renter's Choice Proposal Held For Fine Tuning In Cincinnati Council

Bill Rinehart

Cincinnati council is considering a change to landlord obligations. The measure would require landlords to accept an insurance policy when they require a security deposit. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld says demanding an extra month's rent may give landlords security, but it can be a barrier to housing.

"So instead of paying, for example, a thousand dollars in a security deposit on top of the first month's rent to get into a two bedroom, you could be paying $5 a month as a monthly insurance premium," he says.

The measure was discussed Tuesday afternoon in a committee meeting.

A number of landlords say they want a pilot project first. Felicia Bell is vice president of the Real Estate Investors Association. She says while coming up with a deposit can be a barrier for some people, it's also an insurance policy for the renter and the landlord. "The data says that tenants have a problem coming up with this sizable amount of money, however, when they make a transition they have this money sitting there waiting for them, assuming they provide the property back in the current condition."

Bell says the association will work with council to fine tune the proposal.

Not every renter is enthusiastic. Wes Jarrell says he owns properties in Price Hill and Clifton and calls the proposal a corporate handout. "What you're doing is taking the relationship between the local landlord and the local tenant and driving a wedge between them with an out-of-state insurance company that is operating with a profit motive."

Jarrell says a company's profits will come from denying claims from a landlord, or by paying smaller reimbursements, and through continually increasing premiums. "Good tenants who take care of their security properties get their deposit back. Tenants who don't take care of the properties, they're going to get cut out of the system anyway," he says.

The measure is sitting in the Education, Innovation and Growth Committee.