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Landlord -Tenant Law

 

The Ohio Landlord -Tenant Law defines the legal duties, rights and remedies for all tenants and landlords in the State of Ohio. Neither party can legally give up any of the rights guaranteed by the law.

 

Who Does the Law Cover?

Leasing a Property

Landlord & Tenant Duties Under the Law

Landlord & Tenant Rights Under the Law

Tenant Remedies

Landlord Remedies

Security Deposits

Interest on Security Deposits

Notice Required to End a Tenancy or Raise the Rent

Prohibited Acts

Fair Housing Act

Residential Rental Property Registration

 

Who Does the Law Cover?

The law covers all tenants who pay rent for a place to live. The law does not apply to owner occupied condominiums; nursing homes; hotels and motels; or farm residences which are furnished and rented with at least two acres of productive land. Tenants living in mobile homes and mobile home parks are covered by Ohio Revised Code §3733.

 

Leasing a Property

Before renting, a tenant should find out what is being offered. The tenant should understand what duties they have, and what utilities they will pay. Landlords should also understand their duties prior to leasing a property. A landlord and tenant may make any agreement that does not take away rights protected by the Landlord-Tenant Law. A rental agreement can be oral or written, and if written, it can be as long or short as both parties wish. A written rental agreement cannot:

  • Allow a landlord to sue a tenant without telling the tenant.

  • Contain anything unfair or unenforceable.

  • Force a tenant to pay for repairs that the landlord is required to make.

  • Take away the right of the tenant to sue the landlord for an injury that occurs on the premises.

  • Require either the tenant or landlord to pay the other's legal fees.

  • Force the tenant to give up the right to be legally evicted through a court process.

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Landlord & Tenant Duties Under the Law

Both the tenant and landlord have duties under the law, and these duties are a part of any oral or written rental agreement. The tenant must:

  • Keep the apartment clean.

  • Put out garbage in proper containers.

  • Use electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.

  • Follow local housing, health and safety rules.

  • Not damage the landlord's property or disturb neighbors.

  • Use appliances with care.

  • Make sure guests do not destroy the landlord's property or disturb other residents.

  • Notify the landlord when something needs to be fixed.

The landlord must:

  • Obey all health and safety laws and regulations.

  • Make all repairs needed to maintain the property in good condition.

  • Keep all common areas safe, clean and in good repair.

  • Maintain in good working order all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning fixtures and applications which the landlord provides or is required to provide.

  • Provide and maintain garbage cans and provide for trash removal where there are four or more units in the building.

  • Supply running water and enough hot water and heat at all times, unless there are separate heat or hot water units for each dwelling unit and the utility fees for the heat and hot water are paid directly by the tenant to a public utility company.

  • Give at least 24 hours notice to a tenant before trying to enter their apartment and enter only at reasonable times unless there is an emergency.

  • Not abuse the right to enter.

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Landlord & Tenant Rights Under the Law

In addition to duties, the law also guarantees tenants and landlords specific rights. The tenant has the right to:

  • Join a tenant's union to bargain with the landlord.

  • Complain to a government agency about a landlord's possible violation of housing laws and regulations affecting health and safety.

  • Know the name and address of the owner of the property and his agent, if there is one. The information must be in the rental agreement or be given to the tenant when he/she moves in.

  • You have a right of privacy, which the landlord must respect.  The landlord may enter your apartment after reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) for certain legitimate reasons and in certain emergency situations.

  • Receive at least three day's written notice before the landlord files an eviction in court.

  • Receive notice from the landlord when the landlord wishes to end the rental agreement or to raise the rent (see notice required to end the tenancy)

The landlord has the right to:

  • Evict a tenant who does not pay rent when due.

  • Evict a tenant who refuses to move after the end of the rental agreement.

  • Evict a tenant who does not perform the duties in the rental agreement or those required by state law.

  • Receive notice from a tenant when the tenant wants to end the rental agreement.

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Tenant Remedies

If a tenant feels the landlord has not lived up to a legal duty or the terms of the rental agreement, or a governmental agency finds that the apartment is in violation of a health and safety law, the tenant can:

  • Sue the landlord for monetary damages.

  • Force the landlord to make repairs within 30 days of giving written notice to repair the unit. The notice must be sent to where rent is normally paid or given to the owner.

If the landlord does not make the repair, the tenant can do any of the following:

  • Deposit the rent with the clerk of courts. A tenant must be current in their rent in order to deposit their rent with the clerk of courts, and must remain current. Failure to deposit the rent can result in eviction. If the tenant received written notice when they moved in that the landlord owns three or fewer dwelling units, a tenant may not deposit the rent.

  • Apply to the court to order the landlord to make the repairs. The court can also lower the rent until the repairs are made or give the tenant some of the rent money so the tenant can have the repairs made.

  • End the lease.

  • Cancel the rental agreement and move. This can be done only after the tenant has given appropriate notice, and the landlord has failed to correct the condition.

Landlord Remedies

A landlord may evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, or for breaking any significant condition of the lease. The landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice at least three days, prior to filing for an eviction. The landlord should not count the day the notice was served, weekends, or legal holidays. The notice can be served by handing it to the tenant or by posting it on the tenant's door. In some cases, a 30 day notice is required; such as with Section 8 tenants. A landlord should review the requirements of any subsidy program prior to taking any eviction action.

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Security Deposits

Landlords may require a tenant to make a security deposit. A security deposit can be used to cover any unpaid rent or damages caused by the tenant.

 

When the tenant provides the landlord with his or her new address, and has given proper notice to end the rental agreement, the landlord must send the security deposit and/or a written itemization of how the security deposit proceeds were applied within 30 days, or the tenant may sue for twice the amount the landlord has kept and reasonable attorney's fees. The itemization must be specific. For example, simply listing an item as "cleaning" is not specific enough. It is not clear from this statement if the cleaning was due to ordinary wear and tear (for which the tenant had no obligation) or due to extraordinary cleaning. The best practice is to describe the item in detail, and provide photographs, repair estimates and/or receipts when appropriate.

 

Interest on Security Deposits

A landlord is permitted to request a security deposit of any size. If the security deposit is held six months or longer, the tenant must be paid interest on any amount of the deposit that exceeds one month's rent.

 

Notice Required to End a Tenancy or Raise the Rent

If the tenant rents a unit month-to-month, the tenant or landlord can end the tenancy by giving 30 days written notice before the rent is due. If the tenant rents week-to-week, the tenant or landlord can end the tenancy by giving notice seven days before the rent is due. The landlord can increase the rent by using the same notice procedures.

 

If the tenant is under a written lease for a term greater than one month, the lease ends at the end date of the lease, unless the lease states the lease will continue. Rent cannot be raised during the term of the lease. If the landlord wished to raise the rent, they must wait until the lease renews. The lease should have terms that address rent increases. If the lease does not, the best practice is to give notice of the proposed rent increase 30 days prior to the end of the current lease.

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Prohibited Acts

Lockouts: A landlord may not lock a tenant out of his/her apartment, shut off the utilities, take the tenant's belongings or use force to make the tenant pay rent or leave the apartment.

 

Retaliation: A landlord cannot raise the rent, decrease services, or threaten to evict a tenant who asserts his or her legal rights.

 

Abuse of Access: A landlord cannot harass the tenant by repeatedly coming into his/her apartment.

 

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C 3604, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Similarly, ORC §4112(H) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, familial status, ancestry, disability, or national origin when renting a property. The coverage of these statutes includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence.

 

The Fair Housing Act and Ohio law also require owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. Landlords are also required to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces, such as widening doorways, installing ramps and bathtub handgrips.

 

In addition injunctive or equitable relief, and actual damages, a landlord that is determined to have committed a discriminatory housing practice can face a civil penalty of up to $55,000.00, pursuant to 42 U.S.C 3612(g)(3).

 

Residential Property Registration

Ohio Revised Code §5323.02 requires an owner to register with the auditor in the county in which the residential real property is located. Ohio Revised Code §5323.01(E) defines residential rental property as real property on which is located one or more dwelling units leased or otherwise rented to tenants solely for residential purposes, or a mobile home park or other permanent or semi-permanent site at which lots are leased or otherwise rented to tenants for the parking of a manufactured home, mobile home or recreational vehicle that is used solely for residential purposes. The law does not apply to hotels or a college dormitories.

 

Pursuant to §5323.99, failure to register residential rental property can subject the owner to a special assessment on the property of not less than $50.00 and not more than $150.00. It would be wise to contact the local county auditor in the county the rental property is located to determine the local requirements for complying with §5323.

 

If you have a Landlord-Tenant issue, please call 216.225.9181, Email, or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.