The number of renters in Ohio is not as high as that in other states. Ohio landlords are free to specify their terms of lease. The state has established general guidelines, which landlords and tenants in all cities and counties must follow.
Established laws provide better landlord-tenant relationships and prevent legal disputes. Even when a landlord and tenant get into a legal dispute, the law makes it easier to resolve it. This article seeks to explain the provisions of existing Ohio landlord-tenant laws to make them easily understandable.
Laws about Rent Increase in Ohio
Ohio is generally a landlord-friendly state. Existing Ohio landlord-tenant laws have no restrictions on the amount of rent a landlord may charge. According to Chapter 5321 Ohio Revised Code, a landlord can charge as much rent as the market allows. Additionally, Ohio lacks a rent control or stabilization law. Landlords can raise rent almost at will.
Your lease agreement will determine how a landlord raises the rent. Before doing so, the landlord will issue a rent increase notice. It could happen in any of the following ways:
- Week-to-Week Tenancy: A notice of 7 days before implementing a rent increase
- Month-to-Month Tenancy: A notice of 30 days before the rent increase
- Year-to-Year Tenancy: A notice of 60 days before the rent increase
However, the landlord-tenant law in Ohio doesn’t allow a landlord to raise rent at will or to retaliate for a tenant complaining about serious health and safety issues. When sued, such a landlord would be penalized.
Of course, it’s important to know about the landlord-tenant laws in Ohio. Also important is knowing how to book landlord insurance.
Laws about security deposits
Landlords in Ohio charge a security deposit to cover damage to the residential premises at the time the tenant is vacating. Ohio landlords have a free hand regarding the amount of security deposit they can charge.
Charges on the Security Deposit
Usually, the landlord may make a charge on the security deposit where there is extensive damage to the property. If there was only normal wear and tear, the landlord has no right to retain the security deposit but must refund it. A landlord must provide proof of damage, such as pictures and repair receipts.
Refunding Security Deposit
So, what should Ohio landlords do when a client gives notice to vacate a rental unit? If there was only normal wear and tear, the landlord should return the security deposit. Otherwise, they must provide an itemized list of all deductions within 30 days after the lease termination.
Failure of Landlord to Refund
If the landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant may sue for double compensation. In the process, the landlord must pay reasonable attorney’s fees.
Interest on Security Deposit
Landlord-tenant laws in Ohio require landlords to pay interest on a security deposit exceeding one month’s rent or $50 (whichever is greater). Thus, the landlord can only hold the security deposit in an interest-paying bank account.
Laws about Rental Application in Ohio
Before accessing the rental property, a potential tenant must fill out an application form. The Ohio rental application form helps tenants properly present personal and financial information.
Non-Refundable Application Fee
Ohio landlord-tenant laws allow the collection of a non-refundable application fee. There’s no limit to what the landlord may charge.
A landlord may respond to an application to rent residential property in one to two days. If the application is successful, the landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement. However, the landlord may require the client to have rental insurance as a prerequisite.
Non-Discrimination of Tenants
There is no Ohio landlord-tenant law with specific provisions for screening tenant’s rental applications. Therefore, Ohio landlords may screen tenants while abiding by the Federal Fair Housing Act to avoid discrimination based on the following:
- Familial status
Any Ohio landlord that violates provisions of the Fair Housing Act could face several penalties, including the following:
- Reputational damage
- Legal fees
- Monetary fines
The Ohio tenant law allows landlords to screen tenants before giving them possession of the premises. They do the screening using the information provided in the application form. Typically, they look at things such as the following:
- Tenant’s name
- Social security number
- Rental history
- Employment history
- Credit score
Basis of Tenant Screening
Although not included in the application, an Ohio landlord may also carry out background checks on all prospective tenants. However, they need the tenant’s consent to that. A typical background check could be on the following:
- Sex offender status
- Criminal history
- Eviction history
Laws about Rent in Ohio
Ohio law does not include any specific rent control policies. Thus, an Ohio landlord can charge any amount to meet their needs. That’s because Ohio is mainly landlord-friendly and doesn’t give regard to tenant rights. Using rent-collection software, they can easily manage their finances.
The landlord-tenant law in Ohio allows a tenant to withhold rent by depositing it in a separate rent escrow account. A tenant may deposit rent with a municipal or county court to force the landlord to execute certain actions. For example, the action could be to compel the landlord to undertake repairs on broken heaters and other appliances.
State and local housing laws allow tenants to apply to the court for a reduction in rent or to use the withheld money for repairs. In that case, the landlord must give the tenant access to the rent money. The landlord cannot bring an eviction action because of that.
Laws about the Lease in Ohio
Landlords and tenants in Ohio must enter into a rental agreement that clearly states the limits of the relationship. It also spells out the rights and obligations of each of the parties involved. While a rental agreement may vary based on the landlord and tenant involved, it must contain the following basic items:
- The landlord’s name and contact information
- Amount or rent, the due date, and payment method
- The utilities are covered by the landlord
- Procedures of tenants reporting required repairs
- Rules for subletting the rental property (if allowed)
- Circumstances that necessitate lease termination
Landlord Rights and Obligations in Ohio
Ohio landlord-tenant laws spell out landlord rights and responsibilities. Some of these could be expressly stated in the rental agreement. The following are the accepted landlord rights and responsibilities:
The existing Ohio landlord-tenant law grants certain legal rights to Ohio landlords. They generally include the following:
- collect rent payments when they fall due
- use the tenant’s security deposit to carry out repairs of excessive damage
- collect unpaid rent via all the means provided by the Ohio landlord-tenant law
- maintain in good working condition electrical and plumbing fixtures
- evict a tenant from residential property after giving adequate notice
- enter the residential premises upon giving notice to the tenant at least 24 hours before
As much as the landlord-tenant law in Ohio confers on them rights, landlords must take up their responsibilities. The following are the common landlord obligations:
- ensure compliance with state and local housing, building, and health and safety code for rental units
- keep the premises in good condition through timely maintenance and repair
- maintain electrical and plumbing fixtures to ensure hot water is always available
- keep the rental unit in safe and sanitary condition
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
Every rental agreement in Ohio must state the rights and obligations of the tenant. The following are the common tenant rights and responsibilities:
- living in a rental unit that complies with state and local safety standards
- serve landlords with notice of damage affecting their health and safety
- recover the security deposit within 30 days of vacating the premises
Landlord-tenant laws in Ohio largely determine the responsibilities of the tenant concerning the rental unit. However, landlords and tenants could come up with more responsibilities through the rental agreement. The following are the common tenant responsibilities:
- keep common sections of rental units in safe and sanitary condition
- make rent payments on time
- maintain electrical and plumbing fixtures properly
- live peaceably with other tenants and neighbors
Ohio Landlord-Tenant Laws on Lease Termination
According to Section 5321.17 of the Ohio law, either the landlord or tenant can initiate the process of terminating a lease agreement by issuing a notice.
Tenants Breaking Out of a Lease
Landlord-tenant laws in Ohio have provisions on how tenants may break out of a lease. In the case of a fixed-term lease, the end of the lease is already determined. But the tenant doesn’t have to wait it out. They can terminate the lease under the following circumstances:
1. Being Active in the Military
The Ohio landlord-tenant law gives actively serving members of the military the right to break a rental agreement. That’s part of the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. A tenant may initiate the process by issuing a written notice to the landlord.
2. Affirmation or Privacy Rights
Tenants may legally break a lease if the landlord fails to honor their privacy rights. Therefore, if your landlord enters your home without issuing at least 24 hours of notice, you have a right to break the lease.
3. Ensuring Personal Safety
Under a rental agreement, landlords must ensure you have habitable housing. Ideally, the conditions in the dwelling unit should conform to the prevailing housing codes. If you’re having less than that, you have the right to give notice of your intention to break the lease. Where the property is in a complete state of disrepair, you can break your lease immediately without notice.
Landlord Evicting Tenant in Ohio
The landlord may initiate eviction when the tenant violates the provisions of the rental agreement. Thus, a landlord could ask a tenant to vacate due to the following reasons:
- late rental payment
- violation of specific provisions of the rental agreement
- conducting illegal activity on the premises
- violation of health and safety standards
- failure to renew a lease when it expires
In each case, the landlord must give notice within a reasonable amount of time. The following are the various types of notices:
- 3-day notice to pay for rent non-payment
- 3-day notice to quit for illegal activity
- 7-day notice to quit for weekly payment
- 30-day notice to comply with certain violations
- 30-day notice to quit for monthly payment
The Ohio landlord-tenant law is established to protect the rights of both the landlord and tenant, although it tends to be more landlord-friendly. For instance, there are no restrictions on the amount of rent a landlord can charge. Also, landlords have a free hand concerning the raising of rent.
Ohio landlord-tenant laws protect tenants from discrimination based on sex, race, color, nationality, religion, disability, and familial status. However, Ohio landlords can evict tenants almost at will. Even so, a tenant may terminate a lease under certain circumstances.