University leasing president’s house from Cleveland attorney

Alicia Balog

Kent State University will pay $56,000 a year in rent and up to $7,000 in property taxes to lease the home where President Lester Lefton and his wife are currently living, according to the lease agreement with new owner Shaker Heights attorney Edward W. Cochran.

The lease will last for 20 years beginning April 1, 2013 and ending March 31, 2033, according to the agreement. After that, the lease will automatically renew for three years at a time unless either the university or Cochran give a one-year notice to terminate the agreement.

Highlights of the lease agreement:

• The university can terminate the lease at the end of every sixth year with one year’s notice to Cochran.

• The university will reimburse property taxes up to $7,000 per year upon proof that the taxes were paid. According to the Portage County Auditor’s website, the house’s annual taxes are $11,619.12.

• The university can alter the house without consent from Cochran, but the university must approve any alterations Cochran wants to make.

• The university is responsible for repairs to the property of up to $12,000 in a six-year period. After the amount exceeds $12,000, Cochran will be responsible for any repairs.

• The university pays for gas, electricity, water, sewage, lawn care, snow removal, telephone and Internet access.

The university used to pay Lefton a total of $65,000 a year for his mortgage, utilities and maintenance, according to his 2009 employment agreement.

Two calls to Cochran’s office and an email on April 2 were not returned. However, the Record Courier reported that Cochran “said he became interested in purchasing the home when he learned the university would agree to lease it from a new owner.”

Cochran took post-secondary classes at Kent State in the 1960s, but said he has no other connection with the university and has never met Lefton, as reported by the Record Courier.

Cochran bought Lefton’s Elizabeth Court home on March 29 for $700,000, according to the Portage County Auditor’s Office. Lefton originally bought the house for $792,550 on September 1, 2006.

Cochran and Gregg S. Floyd, senior vice president for finance and administration, signed the lease March 26 and March 22 respectively.

The lease agreement is part of a plan to establish an official home for current and future Kent State presidents.

The Board of Trustees will vote on whether to establish the home as the official presidential home at its May 14 meeting.

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].