Ohio Habitability Laws

  • Landlord Responsibilities. Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating and AC fixtures and appliances supplied by the landlord in good working order (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs within reasonable time (but no more than 30 days) after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenants can deposit the rent in escrow through the court, report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Ohio law. (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Ohio does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & 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

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

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.

Making Repairs

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

  • Sending notice. Tenants must write a letter to the landlord informing about specific repairs that needs to be done. The landlord is given “a reasonable amount of time” to make the repairs, but no more than 30 days. What is ‘reasonable’ depends on the severity of the problem.
  • Landlord access. Tenants must give permission to the landlord to access the property in order to make necessary repairs.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs 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 Court. The rent will be held in escrow and will only be released when the landlord makes the necessary repairs.
  2. Repair and deduct – tenants do not have the right to repair the issue themselves and deduct a reasonable amount for the repair from the following month’s rent.
  3. Lawsuit – Tenants also have the right to file motions asking the court to order the landlord to make repairs for damages resulting from habitability issues.
  4. 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

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.