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Twinsburg rental property civil case settled

City to pay $5,000 in legal fees to owner of rental properties

By APRIL HELMS Reporter Published: May 23, 2017 12:00 AM
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TWINSBURG -- A Maple Drive business owner of rental properties has dropped a civil complaint against the city, less than a month after Twinsburg Council rescinded legislation aimed at charging some rental property owners for a housing license.

Businessman William Cornell and the city settled May 9, according to court documents filed through the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, eastern division. The case did not go to trial.

The city will pay $5,000 in legal costs to Cornell as part of the settlement, said Akron attorney Warner Mendenhall, Cornell's attorney.

The case was filed Oct. 19, 2016, and assigned to Judge Sara Lioi.

"We were able to do this very inexpensively because it was never enforced and because they agreed (the legislation) was unconstitutional," Mendenhall said. "It provided for warrantless searches without probable cause, violated these landlords' expectations of privacy and singled out small rental property owners."

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Twinsburg Law Director David Maistros disagreed that the legislation provided for warrantless searches, but said that the case "brought to our intention some things we didn't intend."

Maistros said the intent of the legislation was to provide protection for those who might not have access to services, such as on-site maintenance. The city is looking over the issue and hopes to draft legislation that will best serve those in smaller rentals, but there is no timeline as to when such legislation might come before Council.

In July 2016, City Council voted 4-3 to require some landlords to register a rental within the city. The law required owners of rental property to apply for a housing license for one-, two- or three- unit housing. The fee for each application would have been $50 for a one-family units and $75 for two- and three-family units.

Councilors Brian Steele, Bill Furey and Gary Sorace voted against the law at that time. The law was rescinded during Council's April 25 meeting.

Before the April vote, Sorace called the bill "poor legislation" that "should never have passed."

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"It is discriminatory in that it affects only small property owners," Sorace said.

Cornell said the legislation would have "affected my properties and affected a couple of friends of mine."

Twinsburg resident Chuck Bonacci said during remonstrance April 25 that he would like to see Council look at what other areas were doing regarding rental properties.

"Some of this ordinance was perhaps a little overreaching," Bonacci said.

Other communities offer support systems and grants to assist rental property owners "for when they run into challenges to maintain their property," Bonacci said, and Twinsburg should consider something similar.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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