Ohio Habitability Laws

Last Updated: June 27, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

In Ohio, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by Ohio Rev. Stat. § 5321.04. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.

Quick Facts Answer
Landlord Responsibilities Hot/Cold Water, HVAC, Electrical/Plumbing, Sanitation Facilities
Time Limit for Repairs 5 Days or 30 Days
Tenant Recourse Options
  • Withhold Rent: Yes, with the Court Clerk.
  • Repair & Deduct: No
  • Rent Abatement: Yes, with Court Approval

Applicable Dwelling Types in Ohio

The implied warranty of habitability in Ohio does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs If owned/operated by a college/university
RV parks No
Mobile home parks Not specifically addressed
Condos Only if person in condo is renter, not owner
Hotels/Motels No

Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities in Ohio

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Ohio, as indicated below.

Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Not addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Not addressed
Provide hot and cold running water. Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment. Yes
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Not addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). Yes
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Multi-family units
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Not addressed
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Not addressed
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Not addressed
Provide a mailbox. Not addressed
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. No
Provide working carbon monoxide detector. Not addressed
Provide a working washer/dryer. No

The landlord must provide a dwelling unit that is up to code with all building, housing, safety and health codes. The dwelling unit must be kept in good condition and not materially affect the safety or health of the tenant.

Lead-Based Paint

Landlords are required to notify prospective tenants of the potential for lead-based paint in any rental units built prior to 1978.

This notice must be included in the rental agreement, and tenants should also receive the “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home,” booklet produced by the federal government.

Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Ohio

Landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant.

  • Sending NoticeTenants must give written notice to the landlord informing them about specific repairs that need to be completed. The notice may be delivered via mail. The landlord is given a “reasonable” amount of time to make the repairs, but no more than 30 days.  If it is an emergency (such as lack of heat) the landlord has five days to repair the issue. 
  • Landlord AccessTenants must give permission to the landlord to access the property to make necessary repairs. The landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice (approximately 24 hours’ notice) for entry and must enter at reasonable times, unless in emergency situations.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Ohio

If repairs that are materially affecting the health and safety of the tenant aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold Rent – Tenants can withhold rent by depositing it with the clerk of the municipal or county court in an escrow account. The rent will be held and will be released when the landlord makes the necessary repairs. To use this option, the tenant must be current on rent, sent the written notice to the landlord and wait a reasonable amount of time.
  2. Repair and Deduct – Tenants do not have the right to repair and deduct. This must be done through the court.
  3. Rent Abatement – Tenants may apply with the court to reduce the periodic rent due each month until the landlord has remedied the violations.
  4. Lawsuit – Tenants also have the right to sue landlords.
  5. Reporting to Public Officials – Tenants have the right to complain to a governmental agency if the landlord violates housing laws or regulations affecting health and safety.

Landlord Retaliation in Ohio

Landlords are prohibited to retaliate against a tenant by raising rent, decreasing services, or evicting the tenant from the property for exercising their rights by:

  • Complaining to the appropriate City or County department about habitability issues.
  • Complaining to the landlord about violation of tenant-rights.
  • Joining, organizing, or participating in a tenant’s union or resident’s council.

If the landlord is found to have retaliated for any of the above reasons, the tenant may recover actual damages and attorney fees.

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