The Akron Municipal Court Desires To Start New Housing Program as a Result of Success From Online Dispute Resolution Program

In April 2021, the Akron Municipal Court formally announced it was selected by the Supreme Court of Ohio to be an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform Pilot Court. The Akron Municipal Court was one of 17 courts chosen statewide. ODR officially launched during the summer of 2021 to those parties involved in small claims and landlord-tenant cases in the Court’s jurisdiction.

In 2020, the Akron Municipal Court had 6,640 civil cases filed, 10,041 criminal cases filed and 14,756 traffic cases filed. This equals 31,437 cases total with about 21% of these cases being filed in the Civil Division.

The communication aspect of ODR has allowed for open dialogue to keep tenants in their homes. Since the start of ODR, there has been an increase in the dismissal of cases because of this open dialogue. Tenants have also had an opportunity to receive financial assistance from Summit County Cares.

The success of ODR, in conjunction with housing issues in our community, supports the Akron Municipal Court Judges’ decision to introduce a new housing program. The plan was announced to Akron City Council in March 2022. Both criminal and civil issues of housing will be addressed in the program.

Meetings have occurred between the Akron Municipal Court Judges, Akron City Council and The City of Akron to discuss how the program can be funded.

“My fellow Judges and I are excited to get this program up and running,” said Akron Municipal Court Administrative/Presiding Judge Ron Cable. “There is a need for this in Akron and we look forward to further communication with Akron City Council and The City of Akron Mayor’s Office in the coming weeks.”

The housing program will offer resources to assist both landlords and tenants with the goal to avoid evictions and get landlords money owed to them from past due rent.

“This is an excellent opportunity for tenants and landlords to resolve their issues on a positive note.  Communication and proper legal representation, on both sides of the equation, are the key to success and reducing evictions in our community,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan, City of Akron.

If an eviction case is brought forth due to issues unrelated to non-payment of rent, the Court hopes to provide assistance in avoiding the displacement of tenants by offering information about services available in Summit County.

The criminal aspect of housing cases often stems from property owners and owner-occupied properties where the owner is unaware or unable to obtain assistance to make required repairs.

Judge Nicole Walker will lead the criminal section of the housing program. The Akron Municipal Court’s goal is to create a full-time position to oversee the civil aspect of a housing program. This individual will work alongside the established Magistrates and other staff in the Small Claims and Evictions courtroom.