How Housing CourtCan Impact Home-BasedHealth Hazards Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ron O’Leary
Areas of Focus 1 Environmental Quality Issues 2 Enforcement 3 Education 4 Resource Referrals
Environmental Quality Issues Lead and health hazard issues in Housing Court can arise directly and indirectly, in criminal cases, civil cases, and special procedures.
Environmental Quality Issues • Eviction hearings • Answers and counterclaims • Motions to compel repairs • Applications for release of rent (deposited with the Clerk of Courts) • Motions to prohibit re-rental • Damages claims
Evidence of Environmental Quality Issues Presented at Hearings R • Testimony • Photos of chipping, paint, mold growths, or bugs. • Health Department or other experts’ documents • Medical laboratory reports I S K
Criminal Enforcement • The City of Cleveland has set minimum standards for property maintenance in Cleveland. • Failing to comply with these standards can subject a property owner to criminal liability in the form of fines and incarceration. • Fines can begin at $1,000 for each day out of compliance. • There is no limit as to the amount of the fine. • Jail time can be up a maximum of 180 days for each day a property is out of compliance (18-month maximum.) • If property is owned by a business, fines can be $5,000 for each day out of compliance
Enforcement • City cites the property owner for code violation for the presence of lead at the property. Defendant must use certified lead contractor to perform corrections. • City cites defendant for property not being “weathertight” (i.e., peeling paint) – defendant must use lead-safe practices in correcting violations. • Community control: properties that are not weathertight, owned by defendant on community control – must use lead-safe practices to make corrections.
Enforcement • Tenant could file complaint or counterclaim for damages because of exposure to lead in rental property. • City, local Community Development Corporation, or other nonprofit could file civil case against property owner because of condition of the property, which could include presence of lead.
Enforcement • Bailiff Communication/No Re-Rent Orders • Bailiff communicates orders prohibiting re-rental of property • Bailiff notes bad conditions when at the property on court business (e.g. move out). • If conditions include peeling paint, deteriorated porches, bailiff gives property owner information on lead and lead-safe practices. • In effort to educate, we encourage property owner to repair before specifically cited by City for lead. • If corrections are not made, court may order inspection, prohibit landlord from re-renting property.
Enforcement • Rent Deposit • Rent deposit: Tenant who is current in rent can give landlord notice of defective conditions and give landlord reasonable time to repair • If no repair – tenant may deposit rent with the Court each month until repairs are made. Repairs may include peeling paint, etc.
Lead Abatement • Is • Is Not • All lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust has been removed; • Permanent enclosure or encapsulation of lead-based paint; • Surfaces or fixtures painted with lead-based paint have been replaced; • Lead-contaminated soil has been either removed or permanently covered. • Preventive treatments; • Interim controls; • Activities designed to repair, restore, or remodel even though these activities may incidentally result in a reduction or elimination of lead-based paint hazards.
Education Community Events • Neighborhood Clinics • What Every Tenant Should Know • What Every Landlord Should Know • What Every Investor Should Know
Resource Referrals • City of Cleveland • Lead Hazard Control Program • Cuyahoga County Board of Health • Lead Safe Cuyahoga • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) • Certified Abatement Firms E D L A
Where the Lead Initiative Stands • Cleveland City Council Introduced “Lead-Safe” Legislation - June 2019 • The proposed legislation would require all landlords and property owners to deem properties built before 1978 to be certified lead-safe by March 1, 2023, with criminal penalties for non-compliance. • Increases rental registration fees from $35 to $70 (Increases cap for single owner from $15,000 per year to $30,000 per year) • Legislation does not require lead testing for young children • WEWS News Channel 5 Story
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