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Ohio Renters Rights

Ohio is renowned for being at the forefront of flight… from famous sons the Wright Brothers taking the first steps into the air, to Wakaponeta’s Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon.

While we may all look to the stars, it also pays to keep your feet firmly on the ground – especially if you’re renting a property. So here are some key tips, rights and responsibilities for Ohio renters.

The Lease

It makes sense to have a written lease as it protects you and your landlord in case of a dispute. If your lease is in writing, both you and the landlord should sign and keep a copy.

Inspect the apartment

Before you sign the lease or move in you should really make sure you’ve seen the property in the flesh. Pictures aren’t good enough. It’s only when you really look around that you notice repairs that need doing, things that are broken, and appliances that need upgrading.

So take a look, not a chance. If you do spot something wrong, bring it to the landlord’s attention in writing. They should either agree to repair it, or at the very least acknowledge it. You might even want to take a photo of it yourself.

Security deposits

Your landlord may ask you for a security deposit to cover the potential cost of any damages you might cause or any rent you might owe after you move out. Remember you can’t use your deposit to pay the last month’s rent.

After you move out you’ve got a right to get your deposit back – minus anything that’s been deducted for damage or unpaid rent. First, you need to give notice in writing that you’re moving out. Then within 30 days of moving, the landlord must send you your deposit back. If they are making deductions they must include a written itemized statement of what they are for, i.e. unpaid rent or damage.

If the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit and statement within thirty days you can sue them. If you’ve given a forwarding address in writing to the landlord, you can recover TWICE the amount the landlord should have paid, plus any attorney fees you may have had to pay.

Duties and obligations

Whether there’s a written lease or not, under Ohio's Landlord-Tenant Law, both tenants and landlords have duties and obligations. Even if they try to slip it into the lease, your landlord cannot shift any landlord duties upon you. However, your landlord, with your agreement, can take on the duties the law would normally say were your responsibility.

Your duties as a tenant

Nothing surprising… but take a look below:

  • Keep the apartment safe and clean
  • Get rid of trash and garbage in a safe and sanitary way
  • You must provide your own trash containers if the building has three or fewer dwelling units
  • Keep all plumbing fixtures clean and not stop them up
  • Use all plumbing and electrical fixtures properly
  • Not damage the place or allow your guests to damage it
  • Keep any appliances like stoves, refrigerators and washing machines in good working order
  • Not bother other tenants or allow your guests to disturb them
  • Allow the landlord to inspect or show the apartment, deliver large packages or make repairs at reasonable times with reasonable (24 hours) notice or immediately for emergencies
  • Obey local housing, health and safety codes

You can’t simply quit paying their rent because your landlord doesn’t make important repairs. And you can’t simply pay a workman to do the repairs and then deduct the cost from your rent – unless the landlord agrees. Instead, you’ll have to follow a legal procedure called rent escrow that means you pay your rent to the clerk of courts rather than to your landlord  - putting pressure on them to make the repairs.

Landlord's duties

Again, nothing too surprising…

  • Comply with all housing laws and regulations which affect health and safety
  • Keep the premises in a livable condition by making all necessary repairs
  • Keep all common areas in the building and grounds safe and sanitary
  • Maintain in good working condition all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, fixtures and appliances which the landlord has supplied or is required to supply
  • If the structure contains four or more dwelling units, provide and maintain garbage and waste containers and arrange for trash removal
  • Supply hot and cold running water at all times
  • Give reasonable notice, at least 24 hours, before entering tenants' apartments unless there is an emergency
  • Not abuse their right of access to inspect the premises, deliver packages, or show the apartment to prospective tenants or buyers
  • Notify the tenant in writing of the owner's name and address and any agents
  • Names and addresses before or when the tenant moves in
  • Your landlords can’t enter your unit without 24 hours notice unless there is an emergency, and can be held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their trespass

Evictions

Landlords can evict you if you don’t pay the rent, you’ve broken the terms of your lease, you haven’t complied with a notice to correct something or you refuse to allow your landlord reasonable access to the unit.

Landlords must deliver a notice to vacate at least three days before they file a suit of eviction. You don’t have to move out during this time. But if you can’t reach an agreement or you don’t want to move out, your landlord can file for an eviction with the court. This is called a Forcible Entry and Detainer action and will claim either that the lease has expired or that you’ve violated the law, or the lease.

You’ve got five working days between the service of the summons and the date of the trial to object. If you don’t show up for trial the court will probably order you to move out and pay whatever rent is claimed. If you want to contest the amount of money claimed, you have to file a written answer.

Terminations

If a landlord doesn’t live up to their obligations, you can terminate the lease and move out, after giving them reasonable notice to correct the faults. If the conditions are so bad as to make your unit inhabitable, contact your local housing inspector. You can move out immediately and owe no further rent if they decide the place is inhabitable.

Count on our coverage

If we wanted to cover off every aspect of Ohio renters law we’d need a lot more pages to do it! But we hope we’ve given you a little idea of what your rights are when you rent a property. If you ever find yourself in a serious dispute you should really consider consulting a lawyer.

The other aspect to consider when renting is your insurance. A lot of people assume that their landlord’s insurance covers them too. Well, it doesn’t – not for personal liability and personal possessions. Just pause for a minute and think what it would cost to replace your clothes, books, furniture, DVDs, CDs, TV and sound system. And could you afford to pay for repairs to your neighbor’s property and possessions if an for an accident caused by you?

So, take a look at what our renters insurance offers:

  • Great value from less than a dollar a day*
  • Theft, fire, wind, smoke and vandalism coverage
  • Water damage liability protection for your unit
  • Personal liability coverage
  • Low deductible options starting at $100

It’s affordable, high quality protection that gives you real peace of mind. You can buy coverage up to 90 days in advance of your lease start date. So, why not find out more today? Check out our Renters Insurance benefits and features today.

*Based on a national average cost of $10,000 personal property coverage, $50,000 personal liability coverage, $250 deductible, and replacement cost. Visit our website for an exact quote based on your state and the amount of coverage you need.


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