Reynoldsburg City Council's decision gives renters more options to pay security deposits

Kelley Rodriguez
ThisWeek
Reynoldsburg City Hall

Many renters in the city of Reynoldsburg soon will have options when it comes to paying a security deposit. 

Reynoldsburg City Council voted 5-1 on May 10 to establish a new chapter in the city’s codified ordinances governing “landlord-tenant relationships,” the latest effort aimed at renters and rental properties. 

The legislation, which goes into effect 30 days after its passage, makes security deposits more affordable by requiring “residential landlords to provide tenants with alternatives to a traditional security deposit,” according to legislation presented to council.   

“It’s commonly referred to as renter’s-choice legislation,” City Attorney Chris Shook said. “It provides either an option to purchase a security-deposit insurance, to pay monthly premiums for their security deposit or to pay an amount of no more than 50% of what the monthly rental rate would be.”   

At-large councilman Barth Cotner cast the lone vote against. 

The legislation gives renters the option to split security deposits into 11 monthly installments, pay a reduced security deposit over six installments or obtain security-deposit insurance in lieu of paying a lump sum security deposit. It would be the responsibility of the tenant to obtain security-deposit insurance. 

The law applies only to landlords who own and control more than 10 rental units.  

Landlords who fail to comply can be subject to up to $500 in damages and attorney costs per violation, according to the legislation. 

At-large councilman Stacie Baker said he introduced the legislation as way to “break down one of the more common barriers that people face when they’re trying to rent.”   

Reynoldsburg in March became the latest Ohio city to add “source of income” to its fair housing law as a protected status under unlawful discriminatory housing practices.  

“Veterans, recipients of disability payments, households with rental assistance vouchers and anyone with other governmental or private sources of payment should be protected from discrimination when seeking rental housing solely on the basis of source of payment,” according to legislation presented to council.  

Landlords retain the right to use screening criteria, including rental history and credit scores, and still would be allowed to charge security deposits.     

The approval followed months of discussions by council and presentations from fair-housing advocates, which say SOI laws support job growth and help maintain affordable housing.   

In March council also approved the creation of a registry to track rental properties and landlords in the city, requiring property owners to register and pay a one-time fee of $25 for each dwelling unit.    

Multi-family buildings will be charged $25 per unit up to the first five units per structure and nothing for additional units in the same building.   

Although all rental-property owners will be required to register, officials said the registry likely will not be used to target minor violations like trash and overgrown grass, which are violations typically caused – and remedied – by the tenant, officials said.  

editorial@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNews