Today, President Joseph Biden announced immediate and significant changes to the Paycheck Protection program, as follows:

  1. Priority period for businesses with fewer than 20 employees for two weeks starting this Wednesday, February 24th.
  2. Different loan (grant) calculation for sole proprietors and a set-aside of $1 billion for businesses in low- and moderate income areas.
  3. Made eligible those with non-fraud felony convictions.
  4. Made eligible business owners with student loan defaults.
  5. Made eligible all lawful U.S. residents with visas or Green Cards.

Forbes magazine has more details on these breaking developments here.

The second round of stimulus signed by then-President Trump in December extended the Centers for Disease Control limited federal eviction moratorium (started in October) through January 31, and then immediately upon taking office, President Biden extended the stay on evictions through March 31. So, landlords of qualifying non-paying tenants continue to be legally prohibited from recovering possession of their properties.

And a related component of the second stimulus bill was a rental assistance program that allowed tenants — with federal subsidy — to continue to pay their rent, and even recoup back rental accrued, so landlords could be made whole despite the eviction prohibition.

Today’s New York Times writes on the toll the pandemic is taking on the housing industry, including landlords and tenants, which led us to update on “what is the status of the rental assistance component of the stimulus bill?”

What do we know:

  • The rental assistnce is being given from the federal government to the states, who will then each establish their criteria, and application and distribution programs. Some states will be distributing the money to counties and cities for further distribution. What this will mean is a patchwork of criteria for qualification, multiple software portals, and delays in implementation.
  • We have inquired to to roll-out dates and assistance criteria and, at least as to Ohio and Kentucky, not only are none of the application and distribution procedures known, there does not even appear to be discussions with stakeholders taking place as to how best to get the assistance to those in need.
  • Thus, we had hoped that tenants and landlords could get relief by some time in March, but that does not appear feasible. Our best bet right now is April/May, but that is just speculation.

The fact that Ohio paid out $330 million in fraudulent unemployment claims in 2020 will likely slow the process to assure that bogus rental assistance claims do not slide through.

We will attempt to keep our readers informed of developments on the moratorium and rental assistance programs as they emerge.

Every year, the Auditor of each of Ohio’s 88 counties publishes a chart like this showing the tax rates for each taxing district in each County.

In Hamilton County, there are 241 distinct taxing districts, each having a complex calculation to develop the net residential and commercial rates of taxation (taxing districts being greater in number than either municipalities and townships or school districts, because the boundaries of some frequently overlap one another). Here are the five highest commercial and residential taxing districts in Hamilton County:

Highest Commercial rates
MunicipalityTownshipSchool DistrictCommercial millageCommercial percentage
WyomingSpringfieldFinneytown135.544.765%
ColombiaMariemont131.3564.618%
SpringfieldFinneytown128.5894.521%
Lincoln HeightsPrinceton123.754.351%
Mt. HealthySpringfieldMt. Healthy121.6654.277%
Highest Residential rates
MunicipalityTownshipSchool DistrictResidential millageResidential percentage
Lincoln HeightsPrinceton111.4663.919%
WyomingSpringfieldFinneytown110.3443.879%
Mt. HealthySpringfieldMt. Healthy104.6193.678%
SpringfieldFinneytown103.3943.635%
Golf ManorCincinnati101.263.560%

As you can see, several Hamilton County commercial districts well exceed 4.0% in annual tax rates (approaching 5.0%) and the highest residential rates are bumping up against the 4.0% threshold.

 

We were just notified that attorney Christopher P. Finney, founder of the Finney Law Firm, again has been named “Leading Lawyer” by Cincy Magazine for 2021. The specific practice category in which Mr. Finney was selected is “First Amendment Law.”

These awards are on top of “Ohio Lawyer of the Year” by Ohio Lawyer Magazine, “AV Preeminent” by Martindale Hubbell, and the the firm’s recognition in “Best Lawyers” by US News.

We thank our clients for the opportunity to work on such rewarding and meaningful cases and these services for recognizing our proficiency.

 

The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors today reported December 2020 home sales numbers. And once again reported record-breaking home sales:

  • The most home sales of any December in Greater Cincinnati.
  • Average sales and median pricing continued their ongoing increases.
  • Closings in December exploded, up 21.04% against a strong December 2019 with total sales volume up 35.66%.
  • December 2020 home sales were 2,267 compared to 1,873 in December 2019.

You may read the CABR release here.

One of Joe Biden’s first acts as President yesterday was extending the residential eviction moratorium until March 31, 2021. Read the CDC statement on that here.

We are hearing there will be extensive changes to the moratorium processes and procedures that will tilt the scales decidedly in favor of non-paying tenants. We will keep our blog readers updated on those changes as they occur.

The CDC in its release attributes the moratorium to “a housing affordability crisis” that they now place even more so on the books and backs of landlords to resolve.

Today, Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes joined Finney Law Firm Chris Finney at a webinar hosted by the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors to educate the public on “Ohio Property Tax Valuation Reduction.” Our thanks go to Auditor Rhodes and Christy Beaver, Director of Education the Board, for organizing and hosting this course.

Here is a link to the video. Please feel free to share it.

If our Property Tax Valuation Group can be of assistance to you, please contact Casey Jones (513.943.5673).

The Cincinnati Enquirer covers our firm’s latest petition to the United States Supreme Court for certiorari — discretionary review of a lower Court decision. Read about that here.

Ohio Supreme Court upholds Governor’s last-minute cancellation of election

When the Ohio Supreme Court upheld Governor Mike DeWine’s last-minute cancelation of the Presidential Primary election in May, they did so in a simple one-line decision favoring the Governor’s Order. But the Ohio Constitution clearly says that the State’s highest Court must explain the reasoning behind each and every one of its decisions. State Representative Tom Brinkman reasoned that the Court could not well explain the novel decision to allow a Governor to cancel a duly-called and scheduled election at the last minute, and wanted to see their reasoning in black and white.

But what is the remedy?

Brinkman, represented by Chris Finney of Finney Law Firm and its “Of Counsel” attorney Curt Hartman, sued the Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court to force them to explain their decision — and the suit was filed at the Ohio Supreme Court. Brinkman fully expected that the Court would follow its long-established procedures to have the very Justices that had been sued as defendants in the case to recuse from the case and have others appointed from the Ohio judiciary to sit by designation on the decision.

Justices decide to be the Judge — of themselves

But much to Brinkman’s surprise and that of his attorneys, the five Justices who were defendants in the case, filed a brief in their own defense before themselves and then ruled on their own case. As you might imagine, they ruled in favor of themselves, seeing the wisdom of the brief they themselves filed and dismissed Brinkman’s Complaint. Ohioans got no explanation of the decision to cancel the election.

Is that due process?

Does that represent due process guaranteed by the US Constitution?

That is the question presented in the petition for writ of certiorari at the United States Supreme Court by the Finney Law Firm last week. Less than 1% of all cases presented to the US Supreme Court for review are granted oral argument, so Brinkman’s claim at this juncture is unquestionably an uphill battle, but Brinkman argues that it is fundamentally wrong — and unconstitutional — to allow any judges to sit in judgment of cases in which they themselves have been sued.

Can we do it yet again?

Three times previously, Finney Law Firm has achieved review of lower court decisions at the United States Supreme Court, and once accepted we won 100% of those cases 9-0.  Read about those against-all-odds wins here.

We will keep you advised if the Finney Law Firm again can thread the needle in SCOTUS practice.

Let us make an appellate difference for you

Let our team “Make a Difference” for you with our sophisticated appellate practice. Contact Chris Finney (513.943-6655) or Brad Gibson (513.943.6661) to speak with our experienced appellate litigators.