News

February 2022

No landlords prosecuted amid 100s of complaints on Fair Housing Laws

Courtesy of WSYX 6
By Lisa Rantala
February 8, 2022

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Columbus city leaders say they continue to battle the stereotypes when it comes to Section 8. However, they have yet to file charges against landlords who tenants say are violating the new Columbus Fair Housing Laws.

Last March, Columbus City Council passed a series of laws when it comes to housing. They state landlords cannot discriminate against renters based on their source of income. That means if an applicant is eligible to rent a particular property, landlords must accept rental assistance like Section 8, social security, child support, or a housing choice voucher.

The Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority currently funds over 12,000 vouchers throughout Columbus and Franklin County.

Since Fair Housing Laws took effect last summer, the Columbus Urban League has been taking 30 different Fair Housing complaints per month. The agency received more than 800 inquiries regarding violations last year. The Urban League has been referring cases to the city attorney’s office for prosecution.

“A tenant can’t file a lawsuit against their landlord for violating the source of income ordinance,” explained Legal Aid Society of Columbus Housing Director Melissa Benson. “The only option is a criminal penalty.”

That criminal penalty can max out to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail for violating landlords. However, the city attorney’s office has yet to file any charges under these new ordinances. A spokesperson for the office said they’re still working with community partners to shore up the investigative process.

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