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Cleveland Heights Attack on Outside Ownership Unconstitutional

February 15, 2023


Ohio cities may not charge extra assessments to nonresidents who own homes within their limits.


Columbus, OH – The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law this week moved to enjoin the City of Cleveland Heights discriminatory targeting of nonresident homeowners with annual assessment beyond their regular property taxes.

Those who do not pay the assessment are threatened with prosecution, imprisonment, and loss of the right to lease their homes to others.

Through its Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the 1851 Center explains that the City’s penalization of nonresident-homeowners violates the United States and Ohio Constitutions:

  • The Equal Protect Clause forbids discrimination against homeowners solely on the basis of their county of residency rather than on the basis of any actual harm they cause to others.
  • The Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine prevents cities from extorting Ohioans in response to their exercise of their constitutionally-protected right to private property and right to reside where they wish.
  • Assessments may not be – as was done here – unilaterally imposed by Ohio cities’ attorneys rather than enacted by their city councils.

“Ohioans maintain a fundamental right to own private property, to use it in ways that don’t inflict harm on others, and to live where they wish while owning it and using it,” explained 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. “Ohio cities cannot poach Ohioans for simply carrying on business across county lines.”

The case is pending before Judge Calabrese in the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Ohio.

Read the 1851 Center’s Complaint here.

Read the 1851 Center’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction here.


The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The 1851 Center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, regulation, taxation, and searches and seizures.