By Christopher Dalton
Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld introduced renter’s choice legislation that would make Cincinnati the first city in the nation to require landlords to offer an alternative to traditional cash security deposits, removing a key barrier to housing. Councilmember Sittenfeld has worked with renters, tenant advocacy groups, real estate leaders, and landlords to craft an ordinance that offers full protection to landlords, while making housing more accessible and saving tenants money.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Give renters the option to choose low-cost rental security insurance as an alternative to the traditional security deposit;
- Ensure that the selected insurance provider must be an approved carrier licensed by and in good standing with the Ohio Department of Insurance;
- Ensure that the insurance must permit the payment of premiums on a monthly basis;
- Ensure that coverage offered by the insurance provider must be effective upon the payment of the first premium and remain effective for the entire lease term, so as to give the property owner full and equivalent protection as with a traditional security deposit.
“At a time when so many Americans and so many people right here in our own community have so little savings, this legislation can put meaningful money back in renters’ pockets immediately and make housing more accessible,” said Sittenfeld. “This innovative approach also unlocks tens of millions of dollars in Cincinnati currently gathering dust in the form of security deposits. I’m excited to introduce this renter’s choice ordinance and am proud that Cincinnati is going first. I believe this movement will quickly scale on a national level.”
“This legislation will make housing more affordable, offer protection to landlords, and put money back into the pockets of hardworking people here in Cincinnati,” said Mayor John Cranley. “Reducing the amount of upfront cash required by renters would lift a huge burden, be a direct benefit to tenants, and spur our local economy.”
Costly security deposits can range up to thousands of dollars and price far too many residents – particularly young people and the elderly – out of decent housing, while tying up millions of dollars in escrow accounts. The legislation introduced aims to make renting more affordable by reducing the burdens imposed by security deposits, while also ensuring that landlords will still be protected in case of damage.
Sittenfeld has presented his legislation to elected officials from around the country at a national policy conference in Washington, D.C.