I just signed a lease 5 days ago. The day after I moved in, my unit was burglarized. The house is very old and the windows don't all latch due to warping. I have taken measures to block all of my windows now and my landlord promised that someone will come by and "look at the windows". There are also lights in the back on a motion detector but they do not function. Bottom line is I don't feel safe living here and I want to break the lease and move to a safer neighborhood.
There is no specific provision like that in Ohio law. Landlord is required to comply with local building, housing, health and safety codes, provide safe and sanitary conditions, and maintain equipment in good and safe working order. If landlord does not, then you have the option to pay your rent into escrow with the local municipal court, and you could claim that the landlord must fix the windows, and then the court will decide if the law requires landlord to do that or not. Advise the landlord that you may go to court, and perhaps that might get the landlord to take your complaint seriously. If you do not feel safe, nothing requires you to stay there, but you are still obligated by your lease to pay rent, and the landlord could sue you if you don't. And landlord could make an adverse entry on your credit report, lowering your credit score and making it more difficult to rent from another landlord who checks credit reports. You can find a local attorney here on Avvo at the Find a Lawyer tab to discuss your options.
This response is not legal advice, but is general information only, based upon the facts stated in the question. It is provided for general educational purposes of the public who may have similar questions, not for any specific individual or circumstance. It is not intended to create, and the user of Avvo understands that this response does not create, an attorney-client relationship. Legal issues depend on all the specific facts of a situation, and it is not possible to cover all the facts and issues on Avvo. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about your issue, you must contact a local attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state. Mr. Jaap is licensed to practice law in Ohio. He and his law firm gladly accept new clients, but they cannot do that until they confirm that it will not create a conflict of interest with their existing client relationships. Accordingly, do not send them any confidential information unless and until they have confirmed their representation of you in writing.
I agree with Mr. Jaap's response. I wanted to add that you might try approaching the landlord about a release from the remainder of the lease. In light of the burglary he might be sympathetic to your plight. Or maybe he'd agree to release you for a small fee. If he does agree, get it in writing and make sure you account for disposition of any security deposit you've paid. If you do give notice of intent to terminate even without an agreed release, the landlord would be obligated to mitigate his damages by attempting to re-rent the unit as soon as possible. You would then only be responsible to the landlord for the difference (if any) between what you were paying and what the new tenant is paying, assuming the new tenant's term is as long as yours.
Following up on Mr. Jaap's line of thought, if all else fails (and the landlord doesn't take action on the windows) you could give the landlord written notice that you consider the situation with the windows unsafe, demand repair/replacement and if the landlord doesn't comply, put your rent money in escrow with the court. The court would then decide what sort of remedial measures are necessary before the landlord is allowed to receive the rent money. You could also ask that the court terminate your lease in connection with the escrow process, in the event that not even fixing the windows will help your sense of security.
Your best bet is to consult with and perhaps retain a local attorney to assist you in your negotiations with the landlord and possibly with the escrow process. You can search for someone on Avvo or contact your local bar association for a referral. Best of luck to you!
I am licensed in the State of Ohio, posting a response to your question or issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in your state to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages.
I agree w Joseph and Michelle. Consult a landlord tenant lawyer if you cannot work this out with the landlord.
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