Ohio Landlord Tenant Rights

Last Updated: October 7, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5321) states wherever there is a written or verbal rental agreement, landlords have the right to collect rental payments in a timely manner and the right to recover costs associated with negligent or deliberate damages that exceed normal wear and tear.

The tenant automatically obtains rental rights, including the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to pursue some forms of alternative action.

Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.

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Landlord Responsibilities in Ohio

Landlords in Ohio are required to keep the property in a habitable condition and make requested repairs in a “reasonable” amount of time as defined in the lease agreement. If they do not, the tenants are entitled to at least one form of alternate action: they can withhold rent after notifying the landlord of their failure to make the requested repairs and after a regulatory agency issues notice of an ongoing habitability issue.

Landlords are responsible for the following items and amenities:

Item Landlord Responsibility?
Dwelling structures Yes
Electricity and wiring Yes
Plumbing and sanitation Yes
Heating and air conditioning Yes
Garbage removal services Yes
Water Yes
Mold No
Bed bugs Implied in “fit and habitable” condition

Landlords may not evict tenants in retaliation for them exercising their right to a habitable living space (i.e. by reporting a warranty of habitability violation to a regulatory agency).

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Tenant Responsibilities in Ohio

Aside from paying rent on a timely basis, Ohio tenants must:

  • Keeping their premises in a “safe and sanitary” condition
  • Remove trash and keeping the property clean
  • Perform minor maintenance
  • Not disturb other tenants or neighbors

Evictions in Ohio

Ohio law empowers landlords to evict tenants for the following reasons:

  1. Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant does not make a rental payment, landlords may issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord can proceed with formal evictions.
  2. Violation of lease terms – If a lease violation occurs, Ohio landlords can issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. The landlord may include provisions for remedying the issue but they are not required to. Either way, a landlord can proceed with eviction 3 days after giving the notice.
  3. Illegal Acts – Generally, landlords may follow the same procedure as lease violations for evicting tenants for illegal acts. Two criminal acts are grounds for immediate eviction without notice: using/selling/making drugs on the property or living within 1,000 feet of a school while being on the state sex offender registry.

At-will tenants are entitled to 30 days of notice before being asked to move out without cause. Landlords are also prohibited from evicting tenants for retaliatory or discriminatory purposes.

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Security Deposits in Ohio

  • Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – None.
  • Time Limit for Return – 30 days.
  • Penalty if Not Returned on Time – Landlords who wrongfully withhold rent for more than 30 days may be fined up to the amount of the security deposit and the tenant’s legal fees.
  • Allowable Deductions – Missed rental payments, repairs for damages exceeding normal wear and tear.

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Lease Termination in Ohio

Notice requirement. Ohio landlords are not entitled to a notice of termination for a lease with a fixed end date. Tenants who pay on a periodic basis must give the following amount of notice:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Needed
Week-to-Week 7 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days
Quarter-to-Quarter No statute
Year-to-Year No statute
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Early termination. Tenants are allowed to legally break a lease early for the following reasons:

  1. Early termination clause
  2. Uninhabitable unit
  3. Landlord harassment
  4. Active military duty

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Rent Increases & Related Fees in Ohio

  • Rent control. Ohio law neither prohibits nor enforces statutes that effectively amount to rent control. As such, landlords are currently free to charge as much they wish for rent. However, it is possible that Ohio may adopt some kind of rent control policies in the future.
  • Rent increases. Ohio does not require landlords to notify or provide justification before raising rental prices.
  • Rent-related fees. Ohio landlords can set whatever fees they wish, provided they are included in the lease agreement. Ohio law limits returned check fees to $10 of 10% of the check’s value, whichever is larger.

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Housing Discrimination in Ohio

Protected Groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing o the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. This law does not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. Ohio state law further protects tenants from being discriminated against due to their military status. Ohio law does not provide extra protections to any other groups.

Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission administers and enforces housing discrimination law. The following actions may be interpreted as discriminatory when direct at a member of a protected class:

  • Refusing to rent, sell, or negotiate housing
  • Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
  • Falsely denying unit availability
  • Advertising that implies a preference for one type of tenant over the other
  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities
  • Providing unequal access to certain lending opportunities

Victims of housing discrimination can file a report with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on their website or by calling a field officer.

Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Ohio

Landlord Right to Entry in Ohio

Precedent within the state determines that landlords must give at least 24-hours’ notice before entering an inhabited property, though this timeframe is not explicitly encoded in law. Ohio landlords are not required to get permission to enter in cases of emergency that threaten the well-being or safety of the tenant.

Small Claims Court in Ohio

Ohio small claims court will accept rent-related disputes valued at less than $3,000. There is an 8-year statute of limitations on cases related to written contracts.

Mandatory Disclosures in Ohio

Ohio landlords are only required to make 2 kinds of disclosures to tenants:

  1. Lead-based paint. Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
  2. Authorized parties. Tenants are entitled to receive the names and addresses of all people involved in owning and managing the property.

Changing the Locks in Ohio

Ohio’s current landlord-tenant laws prohibit landlords from unilaterally changing the locks as a form of eviction. The law is otherwise silent on the topic of locks. As such, Ohio tenants may have the right to change the locks, provided it’s not explicitly prohibited in the lease.

Local Laws in Ohio

Columbus Landlord Tenant Rights

Columbus requires that all rental payments withheld in response to a landlord failing to make requested repairs must be deposited in an escrow account with the city’s municipal court.

Cincinnati Landlord Tenant Rights

Cincinnati law requires that tenants be given an opportunity to purchase security deposit insurance that prevents them from having to pay a lump-sum up-front.

Akron Landlord Tenant Rights

The city of Akron’s housing code includes provisions about so-called “Public nuisances” and vacated buildings.

Please check your local county and municipality for additional landlord-tenant regulations.

Questions? To chat with an Ohio landlord tenant attorney, Click here