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The Fair Housing Center joins community water advocates to commend the City of Toledo for improving Tenant Access to Water

In Toledo, only the title owners of real property may open an account for water services. Since property owners are typically responsible for contracting for water services, tenants may face a water shut off when owners do not pay the water bill, or when the owner requests a termination of water services. Toledo Ordinance 200-20, introduced by Councilmembers Gadus, Komives, and Melden, passed on June 16, 2020.

The legislation creates two very important changes to local law. First, the Department of Public Utilities must provide tenants with adequate notice prior to a disconnection and allow tenants to make payments to prevent water termination or restore water services. The law also gives tenants the right to deduct these costs from future rent payments.

Second, in order to address situations where property owners themselves order utility shut offs as a form of “self-help eviction” to force tenants to leave, the ordinance prohibits owners from terminating water service to occupied rental properties.

“This is a critical step to protect tenants from the devastating impact of water shut offs that often occur due to no fault of their own,” stated George Thomas, Vice President and General Counsel for The Fair Housing Center, who assisted in drafting the ordinance. “We commend Toledo City Council for recognizing that tenants—who account for nearly half of Toledo’s occupied housing units—should not be prevented from accessing water services as the result of improper actions by property owners.

It’s important for the community to know about this change in the law. Tenants should know that these protections are now written into our local law. Water is essential for a home to be safe, healthy, and habitable, and this legislation will ensure no one is denied the basic right to this vital resource.”

The Fair Housing Center serves on the City of Toledo’s Water Affordability and Consumer Protection Committee along with representatives from Junction Coalition, Ohio Environmental Council, United Pastors for Social Empowerment, Freshwater Future, and One Village Council.

Formed in 2019 as the City of Toledo entered into a regional water plan, the committee is focused on reviewing policies to improve water services for Toledo tenants and homeowners. This committee’s advocacy is instrumental to ensure clean, safe, and affordable drinking water is accessible to everyone in our community.

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/30/20 21:31:12 -0700.

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