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"In April this year, [Cincinnati] became the first city in the U.S. to require landlords to accept alternatives to a security deposit. Cincinnati’s bold move has been hailed as a way to disrupt a broken system for renters. Other cities and states are now also offering deposit alternatives to make housing more accessible to low-income renters," reports Liza Ramrayka.
The challenge of coming up with the cash for a security deposit is one that many low-income and homeless residents face. During the pandemic, the increase in evictions and job losses in Cincinnati and other cities across the country have made security deposits even more of an issue.
"Cincinnati’s renters’ choice legislation applies to all landlords with 25 units or more and offers three options: an insurance premium, in which the tenant pays a small monthly, nonrefundable fee instead of an upfront deposit; an installment plan to spread the deposit equally over six months (or more if the landlord agrees); or a reduced security deposit, paid upfront, of no more than half the monthly rent," says Ramrayka.
Some landlords argue that dealing with an insurance plan is onerous and costly and that the focus on larger buildings means tenants have fewer options. But supporters say the program will benefit residents most in need of housing assistance. "Cincinnati’s legislation is part of a wider movement to disrupt what is arguably an outdated system, particularly where low-income housing is scarce," adds Ramrayka.