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Columbus Leaders Celebrate Ruling Requiring Landlords To Appear At Eviction Hearings

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Associated Press

Franklin County was the last county in Ohio to allow evictions to take place without the landlord showing up in court. That has now changed. 

The Tenth District Court of Appeals ruledThursday that landlords must appear in court to evict a tenant. Before, they were able to file evictions by affidavit.

The case pitted P&R Properties against Canal Winchester resident Traci Wimberly, who appealed a judgment from the Franklin County Municipal Court allowing her to be forcibly evicted from her apartment. The appeals court found that the Franklin County court improperly based its decision on an affidavit from the landlord, without hearing testimony in open court.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein filed an amicus brief in support of Wimberly.

Even though evictions are now on pause after an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayor Andrew Ginther hailed the court’s decision as a long-term victory.

"You think about our neighborhoods, our quality of life in this community, the well-being of children, and the safety health and welfare of families during a global pandemic, this couldn’t have come at a more critical time," Ginther said.

Last year, more than 18,000 evictions were filed in Franklin County, one of the highest rates in the country.

Franklin County Municipal Court stayed all eviction hearings this spring, as a means of preventing homelessness as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, but that ended on June 1. The CDC said the pandemic "presents a historic threat to public health," and the eviction ban intends to keep families in their homes so they don't have to move in with others.

Ginther says evictions disproportionately affect women of color, and that this was an important step in his overall equity agenda.