A renter testifies before the Cincinnati City Council about the Renters Choice Ordinance. Photo provided

A renter testifies before the Cincinnati City Council about the Renters Choice Ordinance. Photo provided 

By Chris Dalton 

Office of Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld 

After months of collaboration with renters, legal advocates, community leaders and others, Cincinnati City Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld’s Renters Choice Ordinance recently passed city council in a bipartisan manner by a vote of 8 to 1. 

This first in the nation legislation will provide thousands of renters in Cincinnati the opportunity to choose an alternative to the steep, upfront burden of a cash security deposit. 

The traditional security deposit represents a very real barrier to housing for many people, who simply do not have a spare $600, $800 or $1,200 to put down as a security deposit, in addition to the first month’s rent. The legislation provides for alternatives, including low-cost monthly insurance, an installment plan of the security deposit over six months, or a reduced security deposit of no more than 50% of one month’s rent. 

Cincinnatians have tens of millions of dollars locked up in security deposits that sit idle in bank accounts when instead that money could be used for everyday needs.  This innovative legislation has already generated enormous interest from around the country, meaning the good it can do is likely to scale quickly and improve people’s lives far beyond Cincinnati. 

The legislation will go into effect in April. 

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