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.
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, but no more than 30 days. If they do not, the tenants are entitled to at least one form of alternate action: withholding rent. A tenant can withhold rent by depositing it with the clerk of the court in an escrow account.
Landlords are responsible for the following items and amenities:
|Electricity and wiring||Yes|
|Plumbing and sanitation||Yes|
|Heating and air conditioning||Yes|
|Garbage removal services||Yes, multi-family units|
|Bed bugs||Implied in “fit and habitable” condition|
Landlords may not evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their right to a habitable living space (i.e. by reporting a habitability violation to a regulatory agency).
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.
- Keep plumbing fixtures clean.
- Use any electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
- Comply with all state and local housing, safety, and health codes.
- Maintain any refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, range or any additional appliance supplied by the landlord.
- Perform minor maintenance.
- Not destroy or damage any part of the property.
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.
- Not unreasonably withhold consent from the landlord to enter the premises to make repairs and other necessary and ordinary maintenance.
Evictions in Ohio
Ohio law empowers landlords to evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of Rent – If a tenant does not make a rental payment, landlords may issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord can proceed with formal evictions.
- Violation of Lease Terms – If a lease violation occurs, Ohio landlords can issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. A landlord can proceed with eviction three days after giving the notice.
- No Lease/End of Lease – If a tenant stays in the rental unit after the term has expired, the landlord may proceed with a notice to quit. The amount of time required depends on the type of tenancy.
- Month-to-Month – 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Week-to-Week – 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Material Health/ Safety Violation – Tenants who violate a building, health, safety or housing code may be issued a 30-Day Notice to Comply by their landlord.
- Illegal Acts – Landlords may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit for illegal drug activity or registered sex offenders.
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.
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.
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|
Early termination. Tenants are allowed to legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Active military duty
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.
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
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 two kinds of disclosures to tenants:
- Lead-Based Paint – Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
- 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.