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Ohio town could require unrelated apartment renters to have separate bedrooms

Posted at 4:38 PM, Dec 20, 2016

Are you currently living in a one-bedroom apartment with an adult who is not related to you? That could soon be against the law in one Northeast Ohio city. 

And some realtors say Brunswick, Ohio's proposed ordinance would infringe on civil rights.

Right now it's just a proposal and the city says there's more to it than just requiring adults to have one bedroom per person if they're not related. 

But realtors say it would hurt private property rights.

"This is the door to open up saying 'we don't like the way you live, your nationality, your color, whatever it might be.' This is Pandora's box that is being opened up," said Realtor Rick Stallard.

As the legislative chairman of the Medina County Board of realtors, he, and many others like him have been vocal at Brunswick City Council meetings.

They even put together a 12-page document pointing out specific issues with the current ordinance proposal. That included Point 4: "The requirement that each unrelated tenant have his or her own bedroom."

"The goal here is not to create difficulties for people," said Santo Incorvaia, assistant law director for the city of Brunswick. "The goal here is to prevent a situation where we have eight, nine, 10 adults living in a two-bedroom house."

"We want the properties to be maintained. We want the properties to be safe. That is what this is all about. The health safety and welfare of the people who live in Brunswick."

He says many municipalities in northeast Ohio have very similar ordinances. Under the proposed rule, landlords will be required to register with the city and pay for registration, an inspection, and fees every two years.

He said in the past, they've had some issues with landlords not maintaining properties and too many people living in one place.

"We've had situations where we've had landlords who would rent out a two bedroom house for example and we end up with eight or nine adults in the house," he said.

That's what the city is trying to put an end to.

The proposed rule is only for single-family houses and duplexes. There is already an existing ordinance in place for apartments and condos in Brunswick, according to Incorvaia.

Under the proposed law Stallard says it would be illegal for an unmarried couple to rent a one bedroom house.

If the proposal is passed, folks who are living together who are not related will have to go through an appeals process. The city plans to hold to open townhall sessions for the public to weigh in. Those will be in January.