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A Landlord's Duties under Ohio Law

Posted by attorney John Sauter

Worried that your landlord isn't providing a safe residence in proper working order? The first step in determining whether your landlord is evading his or her legal duties is to look to the rental agreement. The rental agreement, or lease, contains the terms and conditions of your tenancy. Closely examine the lease to determine exactly what duties the landlord has agreed to undertake.

Many lease agreements, however, are one-sided, and demand far more from the tenant than from the landlord. A landlord's duties don't end, however, with the terms of the lease agreement. The Ohio Landlord-Tenant Act, which became effective in 1974, lists a number of duties and responsibilities a landlord must - according to Ohio law - undertake :

  • The landlord must provide the tenant, in writing, with the landlord's name and address
  • The landlord must comply with all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes
  • For residential housing build before 1978, the landlord must disclose all known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the residence, must give the tenant an EPA pamphlet entitled "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home," including certain warning language in the lease agreement, obtain signed statements from all parties verifying that all requriements were completed, and retain the signed acknowledgements for three years
  • The landlord must "do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition," including making repairs
  • The landlord must "keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition"
  • The landlord must maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures supplied by him or required to be supplied by him in good working order
  • The landlord must supply hot water in "reasonable amounts" at all times
  • The landlord must supply running water
  • The landlord must supply "reasonable heat at all times"
  • If the premises contain four or more leased properties leased by the same landlord, the landlord must supply trash receptacles for rubbish
  • The landlord, except in the case of an emergency, must provide the tenant with reasonable notice of the landlord's intent to enter the leased premises. Twenty-four hours is presumed to be reasonable notice.

If you reasonably believe your landlord is not performing his or her duties as required by Ohio law, but wish to remain in the leased premises, you may deposit your rent with your local municipal or common pleas court in accordance with the steps outlined in ORC 5321.07(A).

In order to deposit rent with your local court, you must first send a notice, in writing, to your landlord, pointing out the area or areas in which the landlord has failed to fulfil his or her obligations, either under Ohio law or under the lease agreement. If the landlord fails to fix the problems within a reasonable time, the tenant can either deposit all rent with the court and/or apply to the court for an order directing the landlord to remedy the defective condition. Alternatively, the tenant could terminate the rental agreement.

The 'rent deposit' provision does not apply to student housing or to a property owned by a landlord who owns three or fewer rental units and provides notice of this fact in the written lease agreement.

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