Cincinnati Organizations Educate Tenants On Their Rights

Aug 19, 2019

At 9:00 a.m. on any given weekday, tenants are at the Hamilton County Municipal Court in eviction court pleading their case to a magistrate.

A study from the University of Cincinnati shows 88% of landlords had legal representation while 98% of tenants did not.

Community Action Agency CEO Mark Lawson spoke with Cincinnati Edition about how that puts tenants at a disadvantage in eviction court.

"It's interesting when you go into court, it's not like on TV," Lawson says. "You have about 45 seconds for a hearing. It's about six questions that the landlord gets asked and then it's 'Are you behind on your rent?' 'Yes.' 'Well then, you've probably got 10 days to leave.' "

UC's data shows Hamilton County's eviction rate is higher than the national average.

Lawson says he believes it's because of a shortage of affordable housing throughout the county.

The UC study finds Mount Airy has the highest number of evictions, followed by Winton Hills and Avondale. All are predominantly black neighborhoods.

Lawson says evictions start a domino effect. "It's a big knock on your record and landlords always look up the Clerk of Courts to see if you have had an eviction filed against you."

Alpha Taylor, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, says he has clients that make this decision daily.

"People have to make decisions between, am I going to pay my rent? Or am I going to use this money to pay for medical expenses? Or am I going to use this money to get to work to put gas in my car?"

The Community Action Agency and Legal Aid are partnering with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to hold a series of sessions on renters' rights. The meetings will provide attendees with information to prevent an eviction or how to connect with assistance if an eviction happens. 

Upcoming events take place at the Blue Ash YMCA on Sept. 9 and Sept. 16 at the Reading Branch Library.