Columbus, OH

Knowing the law: What community laws say about fire pits, porch couches and more

The Lantern
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Students moving to an off-campus house should be aware of the city codes that indoor furniture outside, grills, firepits and trash being too close to a building can lead to citations. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

For students who live off campus, be careful: Incorrect disposal of trash, furniture outside and grilling too close to a building can lead to trouble.

Moving from a dorm to an off-campus house or apartment comes with more responsibilities for tenants. It’s important to be aware of city codes regarding housing and know tenant rights, Frank Kremer, staff attorney with Student Legal Services, said.

“Things like indoor furniture outside, grills or other fire hazards that are too close to a house or apartment building, litter in the yard, things like that,” Kremer said. “Those can be things that the tenant gets cited for because the tenant had control over it.”

Landlords are required under Ohio Law to make sure rental properties are safe and habitable for tenants, Melissa Lenz, staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, said.

“Generally, landlords have a duty under Ohio law to make sure that the rental home is safe and habitable,” Lenz said.

According to Columbus’ Code of Ordinances, upholstered furniture such as couches, armchairs and mattresses cannot be kept outside on porches or balconies unless the area is fully enclosed. The city banned porch couches in 2005, arguing they were a fire hazard and attractive targets for rioters to set on fire.

Fire pits must be at least 10 feet from houses while in use and cannot be used on days when an Air Quality Alert has been issued, according to the Ohio Fire Code. Similarly, grills must be used at least 10 feet away from buildings housing more than two families.

Trash must be disposed of in the wheeled containers provided to houses and duplexes by the city or in dumpsters, according to the city of Columbus website . Both types of receptacle are emptied once a week, and residents can find their trash pickup day by searching it on the city of Columbus website.

On their scheduled pickup day, residents with a personal container must put the container near the side of the road by 6 a.m., according to the city of Columbus website. Trash collectors will not collect trash that is piled around the container — it must be inside. Failure to keep properties trash-free can result in a citation.

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