Ohio Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Ohio landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Ohio Landlord Tenant Act.

OH Landlord Tenant Laws:

  • Ohio Revised Code Title 53 , Chapter 5321- Landlords and Tenants
  • Ohio Revised Code Title 19, Chapter 1923 - Forcible Entry and Detainer

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

In addition, Ohio landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of ancestry or military status.

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Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.

The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Ohio landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details [OH 5321.18.(A)]:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Ohio landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT [OH 5321.13]:

  • permit the landlord or tenant to get a confession of judgment against the other party for recovering rent or property damages
  • make the landlord or tenant pay for the other party's attorney fees (unless ordered by the courts)
  • limit the landlord or tenant's liability when they have failed in their duties
  • permit the landlord to collect rent without fulfilling his or her duties
  • allow the landlord to take over the tenant's duties (that required by Ohio landlord tenant law) - See  See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below

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Security Deposit

As long as the tenant is agreeable, Ohio landlord tenant law doesn't limit the maximum amount of security deposit the landlord can ask for. Both the landlord and tenant have to agree on the security deposit amount, and this amount must be stated in the written tenancy agreement.

If the tenant rented the property for six months or more, the landlord shall have to pay him or her 5% interest on the deposit amount every year. [OH 5321.16.(A)]

Deductions and Returns

Ohio landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Ohio landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties [OH 5321.05] - See Tenant Responsibilities and Duties below

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. [OH 5321.16.(B)]
   
If the landlord fails to follow Ohio landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover the amount of deposit wrongfully withheld plus attorney fees. [OH 5321.16.(C)]

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Columbus, Ohio OH

Ohio Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment. [OH 5321.06]

Late Rent

There are no specific Ohio landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

According to the Ohio Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Ohio Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [OH 5231.04]:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal (for landlords renting out four or more dwellings in a building)
  • Property Access: See Property Access below
  • Eviction: Evict tenant promptly if he or she is involved with illegal activities related to controlled substances on property

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Ohio landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [OH 5231.05]:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in rental unit clean (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Didn't Perform Duties

This section does NOT apply to student tenants or landlords renting out three or less dwelling units (and have informed tenants in writing of that fact). [OH 5321.07.(C),(D)]

If the landlord fails in his or her responsibilities, the tenant should inform the landlord of the problem(s) and give him or her a reasonable amount of time of time to fix it. [OH 5321.07] 

If the landlord fails to fix the problem(s) within 30 days (or sooner depending of how severe it is), the tenant can do ONE of the following:

1. The tenant can withhold rent due by depositing it with the municipal or county court clerk.

2. The tenant can apply for a court order to make the landlord fix the problem(s).

3. The tenant can terminate the rental agreement.

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Ohio landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting for damages
  • Showing the property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors
  • Delivering parcels

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours. [OH 5321.04.(a)(8)]

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Ohio landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion [OH 5321.04.(A)(8)]

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the rental agreement.

In addition, the landlord can also sue the tenant for actual damages plus attorney fees. [OH 5321.05.(C)(1)]

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property. If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement.

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for actual damages plus attorney fees. [OH 5321.04.(B)]

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Subletting

There are no specific Ohio landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Cleveland, Ohio OH

Cleveland, Ohio OH

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, Ohio landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [OH 5321.17]:

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy

30 days

TENANT

Landlord didn't perform duties

See If Landlord Didn't Perform Duties above

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Eviction

According to Ohio landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit [OH 1923.02]:

Tenant did not pay rent

3 days

Tenant didn't perform duties

30 days

Tenant or related person was involved in illegal activities related to controlled substances on property

3 days

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the following:

  • Date that notice was served
  • Name and address of tenant
  • Reason(s) for termination of tenancy (e.g. non-payment of rent)
  • Date and time that tenancy will terminate
  • State that the tenant must move out of the property by the termination date and time

In addition, Ohio landlord tenant law requires this notice to include the following statement: "You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance." [OH 1923.04.(A)]

Even if the tenant offers to pay the rent owed within three days, the landlord can still choose to reject the payment and proceed with eviction. If the landlord accepts the rent payment, the tenancy shall continue and the tenant may stay.

Tenant Didn't Perform Duties

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities above) and it affects health and safety, the landlord can also send the tenant a 30 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. [OH 5321.11] [OH 1923.02.(A)(9)]

Ohio landlord tenant law requires the landlord to state what is the tenant's failure in duty in this written notice. If the tenant corrects the problem within 30 days, the tenant may stay.

In addition, Ohio landlord tenant law requires this notice to include the following statement: "You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance." [OH 1923.04.(A)]

Tenant or Related Person was Involved in Illegal Activities Related to Controlled Substances on Property

If the tenant, tenant's household (or someone with tenant's consent) was involved in illegal activities related to controlled substances on property, the landlord must send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy. [OH 5321.05.(C)(2)]

Ohio landlord tenant law requires the landlord to terminate the lease even if the tenant or related person hasn't been charged or convicted of these illegal acts.  [OH 1923.02.(A)(a)(i)]

In addition, Ohio landlord tenant law requires this notice to include the following statement: "You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance." [OH 1923.04.(A)]

Unlawful Eviction

According to Ohio landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing. [OH 5321.15]
   
If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages plus attorney fees.

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Abandonment

There are no specific Ohio landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

Ohio Landlord Tenant Law: Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5321 - Landlords and Tenants

Eviction: Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1923 - Forcible Entry and Detainer

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