New Public Records Law

Kegler Brown Housing Newsletter

Recent amendments to the Ohio Public Records law affect public housing authorities in Ohio. The amendments, which became effective last September, arguably require housing authorities and other public entities to adopt and maintain both a records retention schedule and a written policy for responding to public records requests. All public offices now must also create and display a poster summarizing the office's public records policy.

In addition, the amendments require public offices:

  • to notify the person requesting a record if the record being supplied has been redacted (unless the redaction is plainly visible);
  • to provide an explanation of the reasons, including legal authority, for the denial of any request; and
  • to provide the author of an ambiguous or overly broad request with the opportunity to revise the request.

The new law also generally precludes a public office from limiting or conditioning the availability of public records by requiring disclosure of the requester's identity or the intended use of the requested record. A public office is permitted to ask that a request be made in writing, ask for the requester's identity, and ask about the intended use of the requested information only if the public office discloses to the requester that compliance is not required and the written request or disclosure of the identity or intended use would enhance the ability to comply with the request.

A public housing authority created under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3735 is generally regarded as a political subdivision of the State and is, therefore, a "public office" subject to the Ohio Public Records law.

[See generally Ohio Revised Code §149.43.]