Tenants' Rights in Ohio

5 Rights of Tenants in Ohio

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Tenants in the state of Ohio are granted certain rights by Ohio’s landlord tenant code. Included in these rights are the right to fair housing, the right to the security deposit, and the right to notice before landlord entry. Here are five rights tenants in Ohio are entitled to.

Ohio Tenant’s Right to Fair Housing

4112.02 (H.) 

One of the most basic rights every tenant in Ohio is entitled to is Fair Housing.

Ohio tenants are protected by both the Federal Fair Housing law as well as Ohio’s own Fair Housing Rules.

In total, nine classes of people are protected from housing discrimination in Ohio. The following seven classes are protected under the Federal Fair Housing Rule:

The following additional two classes are protected under Ohio’s Fair Housing Rule:

  • Ancestry
  • Military Status

All tenants have the right to be treated equally when it comes to any situation related to housing. It would be considered illegal for a landlord to do any of the following because the tenant is a member of any of the nine protected classes:

  • Refuse to rent to the tenant.
  • Lie and say that a unit is rented because the landlord does not want a member of a certain protected class to live there.
  • Have different lease terms for the tenant.
  • Post a rental ad which discriminates against any of the protected classes.
  • Include on the rental application questions relating to a prospective tenant’s status as one of the protected classes. For example, asking about the tenant’s race, religion, or military status.
  • Claim that property values or schools may decline if the landlord rents to a member of a certain class.
  • Claim that crime will increase if the landlord rents to a member of a certain class.
  • Claim that a tenant will not fit in the area because he or she is not a member of a certain class.
  • Harass or intimidate a tenant in an attempt to get a tenant to move because the tenant is a member of a certain class.

A landlord is allowed to inquire about a tenant’s disability for the purpose of determining if the tenant meets the requirements of tenancy. For example, the ability to pay his or her rent each month.

Ohio Tenant’s Right to the Security Deposit

5321.16  

The state of Ohio has put laws into place that protect a tenant’s right to the security deposit. While the security deposit laws in Ohio are not as in depth as those in other states, landlords and tenants still have certain legal obligations.  

Maximum Amount:

Ohio does not place any limit on how much a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit. Therefore, it is up to the tenant to decide if he or she thinks the amount the landlord is charging is too much.

It is in a landlord’s best interest to collect a security deposit amount that is in line with apartments that are in competition with the landlord’s apartment. If the landlord charges too much, prospective tenants will simply rent one of the competitor’s apartments.

Deductions from the Deposit:

There are four reasons an Ohio landlord can make deductions from a tenant’s security deposit. These include to cover unpaid rent, for damages in excess of normal wear and tear, to cover the tenant’s utility bills, and to put towards late fees owed by the tenant.

Interest:

A tenant has the right to have their security deposit earn interest if the deposit is greater than $50 or if the lease term is for more than six months. The tenant has the right to receive this interest annually.

Returning the Deposit:

Ohio landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of tenant move out. If a landlord sells his or her property, the landlord must either return the security deposit to the tenant or transfer the tenant’s security deposit to the new owner.

See Also: Ohio Security Deposit Law

Ohio Tenant’s Rights After Landlord Retaliation

5321.02-.04 

Acts of Landlord Retaliation:

It is illegal for a landlord to try to retaliate against a tenant in Ohio. There are certain actions that a landlord may take which would be considered retaliatory. These actions can include:

  • Raising a tenant’s rent.
  • Refusing to make needed repairs.
  • Refusing to perform necessary maintenance.
  • Decreasing services to a tenant.
  • Attempting to harass or intimidate the tenant to get the tenant to move.
  • Attempting to evict the tenant. This is called a retaliatory eviction.

Tenant’s Legal Rights Which Could Trigger Landlord Retaliation:

Tenant’s in Ohio are protected by the law to perform certain actions without fear of their landlord retaliating against them. These actions include:

  • The tenant complaining to a government agency about a health or safety violation at the rental property.
  • The tenant complaining to the landlord about a health or safety violation at the property or the landlord’s failure to perform any of the obligations required of the landlord under Ohio’s landlord tenant law.
  • The tenant joining or organizing a tenant’s union in order to negotiate with the landlord about the terms of the lease agreement.

Ohio Tenant’s Rights After Landlord Retaliation:

If a landlord is found to have acted in retaliation, the tenant can either recover possession of the rental unit or terminate the lease agreement.

Court Award for Landlord Retaliation:

If a landlord is found guilty of retaliation, the tenant could be awarded actual damages plus reasonable attorney’s fees.

Times When a Landlord’s Actions Are Not Considered Retaliation:

There are times when a landlord may perform an action that would ordinarily be considered retaliation. If the landlord performs the action for any of the following reasons, it would not be considered retaliation.

  • The landlord increases the rent to cover the cost of an improvement made to the property or another increase in the operating expenses at the property.
  • The landlord filed for an eviction because the tenant has not paid their rent.
  • The health or safety violation that the tenant complained about was caused by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant.
  • Complying with the health or safety code would deny the tenant the ability to use the dwelling unit.
  • The tenant is occupying the unit after their lease agreement has expired and is refusing to move.
  • The landlord can file for an eviction if the property is located within 1000 feet of a school or other daycare center and the tenant or member of the tenant’s household is a registered sex offender or was convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a child-oriented sex offense.

Ohio Tenant’s Right to Notice Before Landlord Entry

5321.04-05  

Tenants in Ohio have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their rental unit. A landlord does, however, have a legal right to enter the unit at certain times and for certain reasons.

Required Notice:

In Ohio, in most cases, a landlord must provide the tenant with at least 24 hours’ notice before the landlord is allowed to enter the tenant’s rental unit. The landlord can also only enter at reasonable times, which would be considered normal business hours.

Legally Allowed Reasons for Entry:

Ohio’s code defines certain times when a landlord is allowed to enter a tenant’s apartment. These situations include:

  • To inspect the property.
  • To make necessary or agreed on repairs, alterations, decorations  or improvements.
  • To supply necessary or agreed on services.
  • To deliver a package to the tenant that is too large to fit in the tenant’s mailbox.
  • To show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, contractors or mortgagees.
  • To show the unit to actual tenants, buyers, contractors or mortgagees.

Exceptions to Notice:

In emergency situations, a landlord does not have to provide 24 hours’ notice before entering a tenant’s apartment. An example of an emergency would be water from a tenant’s apartment flooding the apartment below.

Ohio Tenant’s Right to Rent Disclosure

Ohio’s landlord tenant law does not have very detailed rules when it comes to rental terms. Therefore, the landlord must include these terms in the lease agreement. When the tenant signs the lease agreement, he or she is agreeing to follow these rules.

The Lease Term:

The lease agreement should state the exact dates the lease agreement is valid for. For example, from January 1 to December 31 of whatever year. This lease clause should also state what happens after the lease expires. Does the tenant automatically become a month to month tenant? Can the tenant sign another year long lease extension?

When Rent Is Due:

The lease should state when rent is due each month or each week, depending on the term of the lease.

Forms of Payment Accepted as Rent:

The tenant has the right to know how he or she can pay the rent. The landlord must usually accept at least two different forms of payment. Common forms of payment include certified check, cashier’s check, money order, personal check, direct deposit, and cash.

Where Rent Can Be Paid:

A tenant in Ohio has the right to know where rent will be collected when it is due. Will the landlord come to collect the rent each month? Does the tenant have to go to the landlord’s place of business to drop off the rent? Can the tenant mail the rent? Can the tenant pay the rent via an electronic funds deposit?

Late Fees:

Ohio’s landlord tenant law does not have any specific rules for late fees. There is no restriction on how much a landlord can charge as a late fee. The late fee is in addition to the normal monthly or weekly rental payment.

In order to charge a late fee, the terms have to be included in the lease agreement. The lease must state the exact amount the landlord will charge the tenant as a late fee.

Grace Period:

Again, Ohio’s law does not have any specific rules for grace periods. It is therefore up to a landlord to decide if he or she will allow the tenant to pay rent without penalty after the actual due date. An example of a grace period would be allowing the tenant to pay rent for five days after the first of the month without penalty.

Rent Increases:

There is no statute on rent increases in Ohio. A landlord must usually provide a tenant with notice before increasing a tenant’s rent. Thirty days before the lease is set to renew is usually considered reasonable notice.

Ohio’s Landlord Tenant Law

If you would like to view the actual text of Ohio’s landlord-tenant law, it can be found at Ohio Revised Code Annotated §§ 5321.01 to 5321.19 and Ohio Revised Code Annotated §§ 5323.01 to 5323.99.