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Law to speed up housing evictions in Ohio is a blatant kowtow to landlord interests: editorial

It’s a logical rule of thumb for the service of any legal document: Weekends and holidays don’t count. Why not? Because most government offices aren’t open.

That’s why the Ohio legislature’s blatant lame-duck effort to do the bidding of the state’s landlords by speeding up evictions through a bill that would make it mandatory to count Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in eviction-notice and sheriff-eviction deadlines is so outrageous. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Derek Merrin, a Republican legislator from Lucas County, was identified in a 2017 Plain Dealer story as a real estate investor. 

Despite urgent warnings from housing-rights groups that House Bill 390 would increase housing insecurity and homelessness by making it harder for poorer tenants to stay in their homes or have time to seek help to protect their legal rights, HB 390 was sent to the House floor Nov. 28 on a party-line 8-4 committee vote.

Among those voting to pass this unctuous kowtow to a Statehouse lobby was GOP state Rep. Dave Greenspan of Westlake, who should know better. 

The bill doesn’t change the three-day notice requirement for an eviction notice before a landlord can file an eviction action in court, or the 10-day deadline for law enforcement to execute an order of eviction, but by counting weekends and holidays, it would greatly collapse the actual time periods involved.

Joe Maskovyak, the affordable and fair housing coordinator for the widely respected Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, noted in testimony on the bill that one-third of all Ohioans are tenants, and offered this example of a family that leaves Friday afternoon for a long Christmas holiday weekend:

“The landlord serves a 3 day notice after they depart. Saturday is day 1, Sunday is day 2, and Monday, Christmas, is day 3. They come back home Monday night and discover a “Merry Christmas note” from their landlord in the form of a 3 day notice. They are now tasked with moving out Christmas night before the landlord can file an eviction complaint on Tuesday morning when the court opens, if they wish to avoid having an eviction on their record. An impossible task.”

There’s no reason to speed up evictions in this manner. HB 390 is another legislative solution in search of a problem. It should be evicted from the legislative calendar.

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