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No rent control

Ohio has a state ban on rent control that enables landlords to set and increase rent across the state as long as they provide proper notice.

Lawmakers voted to ban cities from enacting rent control policies, saying they believed rent control would keep developers away from Ohio and therefore impact local housing availability and affordability over time.

But for some in the Buckeye State — especially low-income households or retirees living on Social Security benefits — that housing policy has come at a huge cost. Several seniors protesting in front of the Statehouse told ABC 6 the most recent rent hikes for the lots at their respective trailer parks soared by $150 a month.

“It's a free-for-all now. There are absolutely no safeguards in place for folks like myself,” Dan Wykle, who owns a trailer in Lancaster, told ABC 6. “We've got to hang on and pray and do everything we can to make it to the next day.”

Wykle, who is facing a $40 rent increase for his trailer lot in September, has long called for tighter regulation around rent hikes in Ohio. In 2023, he created a tenants’ organization at the Colonial Estates Mobile Home Park where he lives and has organized a series of protests against the park ownership for their continuous bumps to lot rents.

He told ABC 6 in July 2023 that he moved to the park with his wife for a more affordable place to live in retirement, but said the ongoing payments for his trailer, the ever-increasing lot rents and water bills were eating up more than 50% of his monthly social security checks of $2,100.

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Is there another problem?

With no rent control in place, you might expect rent prices in Ohio to far surpass those around the rest of the nation — but that is not the case. According to Zillow, the median rent for all bedrooms and all property types in Ohio is $1,295, which is 40% lower than the national median rent of $2,141. Although keep in mind the law has only been in effect less than two years. The median rent in Ohio is up $95 year over year.

The trailer park residents protesting while being priced off their lots are demanding lawmakers revisit the rent control law, with Cowger stating: “It would be nice to have it back.”

Specifically, Cowger called out the influence of “corporate raiders” — or institutional investors who have long eyed the mobile home park industry as a way to make a quick buck.

The Associated Press reported in 2022 of a nationwide trend of institutional investors — led by private equity firms and real estate investment trusts (REITs) — swooping in to buy mobile home parks and then repeatedly raising rents.

This is what these Ohio residents want protection against. Those who live on a fixed income can only stretch their dollars so far before they're forced to make drastic changes. For some, that could mean the threat of homelessness looms large.

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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