Athens City Council met Monday to discuss the pay-to-stay ordinance passed at the Sept. 6 meeting and an ordinance authorizing the execution of the Athens Community Improvement Corporation, or •ACIC.
According to a previous Post report, the ordinance would allow tenants to have a defense in court during an eviction hearing and possibly stop their eviction if they pay the full amount owed in rent plus any late fees.
Councilman Ben Ziff, D-At Large, motioned for Council to reconsider the pay-to-stay ordinance. He said he motioned for reconsideration because there were constituents who wanted to speak out about the ordinance before it was passed, but were unable to.
During the meeting the ordinance was passed, Ziff said Ohio House Bill 430, which was passed into law on June 1 and will go into effect Sept. 23, could possibly preempt the ordinance.
Rusty Rittenhouse, an associate attorney at Lavelle and Associates Trial Lawyers, said although the purpose of the ordinance is to be equitable for tenants, it ultimately makes legal fees the responsibility of the landlord.
The ordinance caps the legal fees at $125; however, Rittenhouse said most attorneys charge $200 to $300 per hour, and a typical eviction takes four to five hours of work.
Rittenhouse said he hopes the cap on the legal fees would be changed to reimburse landlords with a fair amount of money, in order to be more equitable for all parties involved.
Council also passed an ordinance to authorize the creation of the ACIC, allowing Athens to use it as an economic development tool.
According to a previous Post report, Mayor Steve Patterson said there are a number of projects in which the ACIC would be helpful. One project is the redevelopment of the Athens Armory.