Cincinnati passes law to help renters pay deposits

Landlords must have options other than cash

- Sharon Coolidge

CINCINNATI – In Cincinnati, renters won’t necessaril­y need a cash security deposit anymore under a new law passed by the Cincinnati City Council.

Proposed by Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld to help alleviate barriers to renting an apartment, the law, passed last week, says landlords must give renters options other than a traditiona­l cash security deposit.

It takes effect in 90 days.

One of the options: rental insurance, which allows renters to pay a small premium each month, instead of a making one cash security deposit.

When first proposed, landlords were to give everyone the option to choose rental insurance. Rental insurance was first proposed as a mandatory option, but the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Landlords Associatio­n pushed back, setting in motion a series of talks that led to the other options.

“This legislatio­n is in a very different place, and it is in better place,” Sittenfeld said. “We today are making a big, bold and exciting change. The impact of this legislatio­n is removing a barrier to housing. People want to do the best they can for themselves and their families.”

Mayor John Cranley called the legislatio­n “one of the most creative and innovative ideas to come through council” that he has seen.

Under the legislatio­n, after a renter requests an option besides the standard cash security deposit, the landlord can then pick from three options to offer the renter.

❚ Rental security insurance, where tenants can be paying as little as $3 a month. Instead of paying the first month’s rent and a security deposit upfront, they pay $5 a month in insurance premiums for the duration of the rental. They don’t get that money back, but the idea is making getting into the rental a possibilit­y.

❚ An installmen­t plan, where the security deposit is paid over a period of no less than six months.

❚ Payment of a reduced deposit, which can be no more than the equivalent of 50% of the first month’s rent.

Landlords who own 25 units or less are exempted from the law.

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