In general, a landlord in Ohio has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues within a “reasonable time” of getting written notice from the tenant about the needed repairs (up to a maximum 30 days).
Note that this may not apply to student tenants, or in special cases where a small-scale landlord properly makes required written disclosures to the tenant.
Ohio Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs
Ohio landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:
Heating and, where provided, air conditioning.
Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Provided appliances (except those the landlord explicitly exempts in the lease by following the legal requirements for doing so).
Garbage containers and removal (for multi-unit properties only).
Features that affect health, safety, or habitability.
If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.
Ohio tenants are responsible for repairingany damage they deliberately or negligently cause to the rental property.
Requesting Repairs in Ohio
Ohio tenants must request repairsby providing the landlord written notice about the issue that needs repair.The notice should be sent to the place or person where rent is usually paid.
How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Ohio?
Ohio landlords have a “reasonable time”to make repairs after getting proper written notice about an issue from the tenant. What’s reasonable depends on the particular circumstances, but the law clearly states 30 days is the maximum and that the landlord will usually have to do repairs sooner than that.
Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Ohio?
Ohio landlordscan refuse to make repairs,if the tenant isn’t current on rent. Ohio courts have clearly stated that habitability cannot be raised as an issue in an eviction action unless the tenant is current on rent either directly with the landlord, or by paying into a court’s rent escrow.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Ohio?
Ohio landlords arenot required to pay for alternative accommodationwhile they conduct repairs. However, a situation that requires the tenant to move out for repairs may be a constructive eviction that lets the tenant end the lease and stop paying rent after moving out.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Ohio
Ohio tenants can, in most cases,cancel the rental agreementif the landlord doesn’t make required repairs in a timely way. They might alsosue for damages,get an injunctionto force repairs, orwithhold rent into court escrow.
Note that this may not apply to student tenants, or in special cases where a small-scale landlord properly makes required written disclosures to the tenant. In those cases, monetary damages are the only available remedy.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Ohio?
Ohio tenants arenot allowed to unilaterally withhold rent.To receive a legal excuse from paying the rent, a tenant must have a court order.
Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Ohio?
Ohio tenants arenot allowed to arrange for repairs and deductfrom the rent.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Ohio?
Ohio tenantscan break their lease,for the landlord’s failure to repair required items or other uncorrected breaches of the landlord-tenant laws. The tenant must show a specific legal violation that hasn’t been corrected within a reasonable time (up to 30 days) after proper written notice.
Can the Tenant Sue in Ohio?
Ohio tenantscan sueto force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Ohio?
Ohio tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.
It’s illegal for Ohio landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions:
Complaining to the government about code violations.
Complaining to the landlord about the landlord’s legal obligations.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Unlike most states, in Ohio, taking a protected action isn’t enough to prove retaliation. The tenant must provide reasonable evidence to show that the landlord’s motivation was retaliatory. However, again unlike most states, in Ohio the tenant can point to a collective pattern of behavior to prove retaliation.
The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
“If a landlord fails to fulfill any obligation imposed upon him by section 5321.04 of the Revised Code, other than the obligation specified in division (A)(9) of that section [requiring landlord to evict tenants guilty of certain controlled substances violations], or any obligation imposed upon him by the rental agreement, if the conditions of the residential premises are such that the tenant reasonably believes that a landlord has failed to fulfill any such obligations, or if a governmental agency has found that the premises are not in compliance with building, housing, health, or safety codes that apply to any condition of the premises that could materially affect the health and safety of an occupant, the tenant may give notice in writing to the landlord, specifying the acts, omissions, or code violations that constitute noncompliance. The notice shall be sent to the person or place where rent is normally paid.”
“If a landlord receives the notice described in division (A) of this section [written notice demanding correction of a violation] and after receipt of the notice fails to remedy the condition within a reasonable time considering the severity of the condition and the time necessary to remedy it, or within thirty days, whichever is sooner, and if the tenant is current in rent payments due under the rental agreement, the tenant may do one of the following: (1) Deposit all rent that is due and thereafter becomes due the landlord with the clerk of the municipal or county court having jurisdiction in the territory in which the residential premises are located; (2) Apply to the court for an order directing the landlord to remedy the condition. As part of the application, the tenant may deposit rent pursuant to division (B)(1) of this section, may apply for an order reducing the periodic rent due the landlord until the landlord remedies the condition, and may apply for an order to use the rent deposited to remedy the condition. In any order issued pursuant to this division, the court may require the tenant to deposit rent with the clerk of court as provided in division (B)(1) of this section. (3) Terminate the rental agreement.”
“(C) This section does not apply to any landlord who is a party to rental agreements that cover three or fewer dwelling units and who provides notice of that fact in a written rental agreement or, in the case of an oral tenancy, delivers written notice of that fact to the tenant at the time of initial occupancy by the tenant.
“(D) This section does not apply to a dwelling unit occupied by a student tenant.”
“A landlord who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following: (1) Comply with the requirements of all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes that materially affect health and safety; (2) Make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition; (3) Keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition; (4) Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord…”
“A landlord who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following: (5) When the landlord is a party to any rental agreements that cover four or more dwelling units in the same structure, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of a dwelling unit, and arrange for their removal; (6) Supply running water, reasonable amounts of hot water, and reasonable heat at all times, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.”
“In the instant case [where the landlord frequently failed to turn on the air conditioning system], there was sufficient evidence for the finder of fact to determine that the frequent absence of air conditioning over a two-summer period breached the covenant [of habitability].”
“A tenant who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following: … (7) Maintain in good working order and condition any range, regrigerator [sic], washer, dryer, dishwasher, or other appliances supplied by the landlord and required to be maintained by the tenant under the terms and conditions of a written rental agreement; (8) Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with his consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb his neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.”
“A tenant who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following: (1) Keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses safe and sanitary; (2) Dispose of all rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a clean, safe, and sanitary manner; (3) Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by him as clean as their condition permits; (4) Use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly; (5) Comply with the requirements imposed on tenants by all applicable state and local housing, health, and safety codes; (6) Personally refrain and forbid any other person who is on the premises with his permission from intentionally or negligently destroying, defacing, damaging, or removing any fixture, appliance, or other part of the premises…”
“[I]n an action for forcible entry and detainer to determine the landlord’s right to possession of the premises, the unfit condition of those premises can be in issue only if the tenant is current in his rental payments having paid them either directly to his landlord or having deposited them into court.”
“In order that there be an eviction by the landlord, in the legal sense, it is necessary that the tenant no longer retain possession of the premises. In case of an actual dispossession of the tenant, an ‘actual eviction,’ no question can arise in this regard, but when there is merely an interference with his possession and enjoyment, it is necessary that the tenant relinquish possession of the premises in order that there be a ‘constructive eviction,’ the theory being that the acts of interference by the landlord compel the tenant to leave, and that he is thus in effect dispossessed, though not forcibly deprived of possession. As has been remarked, ‘the proposition that there can be retention of demised premises and an eviction are logically and legally contradictory.’ So long as the tenant remains in possession he cannot successfully maintain that he has been constructively evicted.”
“Subject to section 5321.03 of the Revised Code [eviction process], a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by increasing the tenant’s rent, decreasing services that are due to the tenant, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession of the tenant’s premises because: (1) The tenant has complained to an appropriate governmental agency of a violation of a building, housing, health, or safety code that is applicable to the premises, and the violation materially affects health and safety; (2) The tenant has complained to the landlord of any violation of section 5321.04 of the Revised Code [landlord obligations]; (3) The tenant joined with other tenants for the purpose of negotiating or dealing collectively with the landlord on any of the terms and conditions of a rental agreement.”
“The statute provides that the landlord ‘may not retaliate’ because of a protected complaint. The legislature required by this construction that the finder of fact [i.e., the court] make an independent determination of the reasons behind the landlord’s action. The finder of fact must determine that the landlord is retaliating. If this were otherwise, the statute could have been written using the word “action” in place of the word ‘retaliate.’”
“[A] temporal proximity of the parties’ actions… does not create a presumption of a retaliatory motive under Ohio law. …a landlord may not retaliate because of a complaint made to a government agency, [but] the finder of fact must independently determine the reasons behind a landlord’s action. A tenant must, therefore, show by a preponderance of the evidence, that the relationship between the complaint and action resulted from a retaliatory motive.”
“The Franklins’ retaliation claim states that the activities complained of ‘collectively’ constitute a violation of R.C. 5321.02. The allegations include the failure to exercise reasonable care in performing the washer dryer installation, unreasonable demands for access to the unit without notice for indefinite periods and at inconvenient times, failure to correct unsafe conditions, deprivation of use of a portion of the Unit, and frivolously filing the lawsuit in December 2013. Further to the R.C. 5321.02 elements of a change in rent or services, the Franklins were deprived of the full use of their guest room, and the removal of a closet, from late October 2013 forward and, as the trial court stated, the installation was incomplete by the end of December 2013. In implementing its washer/dryer installation project in October 2013 Continental served notice on the Franklins of the various times that it wanted access to the unit, sometimes for consecutive days at a time between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.”
“If a landlord acts in violation of division (A) of this section the tenant may: (1) Use the retaliatory action of the landlord as a defense to an action by the landlord to recover possession of the premises; (2) Recover possession of the premises; or (3) Terminate the rental agreement. In addition, the tenant may recover from the landlord any actual damages together with reasonable attorneys’ fees. (C) Nothing in division (A) of this section shall prohibit a landlord from increasing the rent to reflect the cost of improvements installed by the landlord in or about the premises or to reflect an increase in other costs of operation of the premises.”