CINCINNATI — VineBrook Homes is facing a new legal attack by tenants asking to join the city’s lawsuit against the investor-owned real estate company that owns more single-family rental properties and files more evictions than any other Hamilton County landlord.
“We chose to intervene in this lawsuit to make sure that the tenants and residents in the community who are impacted by VineBrook’s harmful practices have a voice in how the lawsuit plays out,” said Jordan Cotleur, a Legal Aid attorney who filed a motion to intervene Thursday on behalf of five clients.
A proposed complaint attached to the motion includes many of the same legal arguments raised last week in the city of Cincinnati’s lawsuit against the company. But it includes some tenant-specific demands that the city did not request, including:
- Compensatory and punitive damages for five plaintiffs who allege they were harmed by VineBrook’s actions.
- A court order requiring VineBrook to participate in and pay for mediation before suing tenants for eviction.
- A court order requiring VineBrook to appoint “local representatives to respond to Hamilton County residents’ property maintenance and (customer service) portal concerns within 48 hours for non-emergency concerns and within 24 hours for emergency concerns.”
VineBrook has yet to respond to the Legal Aid complaint. But in a statement last week, it said it would vigorously defend itself against the city’s accusations and added:
“We view this latest development as an opportunity to refocus our efforts and we remain committed to providing safe, functional and affordable single-family rental homes to residents to help set them on a pathway to home ownership and a better financial future.”
Both the city’s case and the new Legal Aid filing accuse VineBrook Homes of using illegal lease provisions to shift maintenance expenses to tenants and engaging in