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New Toolkit Guides Courts, Tenants & Landlords To Avoid Evictions

Sen. Sherrod Brown urged tenants to seek out information on resources available to help prevent and divert evictions. [Taylor Haggerty / Ideastream Public Media]
Sen. Sherrod Brown, wearing a mask, discusses eviction rates in a courtroom.

Ohio officials are working to get information and resources to the public to prevent evictions after the national moratorium ended last month. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Sen. Sherrod Brown visited Lakewood Thursday to announce the creation of a toolkit with guidance for tenants and landlords.

The end of the moratorium had many housing advocates concerned about an avalanche of eviction filings, O’Connor said.

“So far, in the state of Ohio, we have not seen the tsunami of evictions. But again, the moratorium was just lifted Aug. 26,” O’Connor said. “We have this toolkit out that is going to be a resource, hopefully, to make sure we’re not going to experience those kinds of numbers.”

The toolkit is a guide for judges to divert tenants and landlords away from court and toward financial aid or other recourse to address housing difficulties. It includes strategies for collaboration between tenants, landlords and the courts, frameworks for proceedings and sample court documents, as well as overviews of available resources.

“Diverting cases before an eviction can be filed has a greater likelihood of success in promoting housing stability,” O’Connor said. “The strict statutory timelines for eviction cases don’t always provide the flexibility allowed in time for these services to be obtained. The preference is to divert these cases.”

There is still funding available at the federal level to aid in preventing and diverting evictions, said Brown. There needs to be an active effort to educate and inform the public about that money so it makes its way to the people who need it, he said.

“There are tens of thousands of renters around the country that could face eviction that don’t know these dollars are out there,” Brown said.

Evictions in Lakewood are currently down about 60 percent compared to 2019, according to Lakewood Municipal Judge Patrick Carroll. The court is willing to work with tenants and landlords to ensure they are connected to resources, he said, including financial assistance.

But for that to work, Carrol said, tenants need to show up to court.

“We can’t do anything if the landlord shows up and the tenant doesn’t. We need the tenants to come to court,” he said. “We will explain the different programs and how we can help, but we need you there at the table.”