This article summarizes some key Ohio landlord-tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.
The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.
With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.
If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the Ohio State Bar Association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.
Official Rules and Regulations
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 5321.01 – 5321.19 – Landlords and Tenants
- Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §§ 5323.01 – 5323.99 – Residential Rental Property
- Security Deposit Maximum: No statute
- Security Deposit Interest: If the tenancy is longer than six months, then five percent interest per annum is required to be paid to the tenant each year on the amount of any deposit that exceeds $50 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater. (§§ 5321.16)
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
- Pet Deposits: No statute
- Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days from move-out (§§ 5321.16(B))
- Permitted Uses of the Deposit:
- Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (§§ 5321.16(B))
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute
- Receipt of Deposit: No statute
- Failure to Comply: If landlord fails to provide an itemized list of damages, the tenant may sue to recover the money withheld along with damages equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorney fees. (§§ 5321.16(C))
Lease, Rent & Fees:
- Rent Is Due: As stated in the lease
- Rent Increase Notice: No statute
- Rent Grace Period: No statute
- Late Fees: No statute, but case law allows limited late fees if specified in the lease. (Ohiolandlordtenant.com “Landlord’s Corner – Late Fees in Ohio”) and (Ohiolandlordtenantblog.com “Amounts of Late Fees Allowed In Ohio Limited”)
- Prepaid Rent: No statute
- Returned Check Fees: No more than $30 or 10 percent of the check amount, whichever is greater. (§§ 1319.16)
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Instead of paying rent to the landlord tenant may deposit rent with the clerk of the court with jurisdiction over the premises. Tenant must have first notified landlord in writing of landlord’s failure to fulfill obligations defined in §§ 5321.04 or in the rental agreement, or if a governmental agency has found code violations that could affect health and safety, AND landlord has failed to remedy the conditions in a reasonable amount of time considering their severity and the time necessary to remedy, or within 30 days, whichever is sooner. (§§ 5321.07, §§ 5321.08, §§ 5321.09and §§ 5321.10)
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No statute
- Landlord or Tenant Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes, but only allowed in certain circumstances. No provision regarding the payment of landlord’s or tenant’s attorney fees is allowed in any rental agreement. (§§ 5321.13(C)) Landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees for tenant violations of statutory Tenant Obligations §§ 5321.05(C)(1). If landlord fails to comply with the rules for returning security deposit, tenant may recover money due along with damages equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, plus reasonable attorney fees. (§§ 5321.16(C) and §§ 5321.04(B))
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No statute
- Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 30-day notice (§§ 5321.17(B))
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: Seven-day notice (§§ 5321.17(A))
- Termination of Tenancy with 24 Hours Notice: No statute
- Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
- Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: Three-day written notice (§§ 1923.02) and (§§ 1923.04(A))
- Termination for Lease Violation: Three-day written notice (§§ 1923.02(A)(9)) and (§§ 1923.04(A))
- Termination for Failure to Fulfill Tenant Obligations: 30-day written notice for violation of any statutory Tenant Obligation affecting health and safety, other than for illegal drug-related activity. Notice must specify the date on which the rental agreement will terminate as well as the tenant’s act or omission of noncompliance. Tenant has the opportunity to remedy the condition specified in the notice to avoid termination of the rental agreement. (§§ 5321.11)
- Termination for Drug-related Activity: Three-day notice (§§ 5321.17(C))
- Required Notice before Entry: Reasonable notice required, with 24 hours being presumed to be reasonable, and entry only allowed at reasonable times. (§§ 5321.04)
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§§ 5321.05(B))
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§§ 5321.05(B))
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Reasonable notice is not required in cases of emergency. (§§ 5321.04(8))
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
- Lockouts Allowed: No (§§ 5321.15)
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (§§ 5321.15)
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Name and Addresses: Written leases must include the name and address of the owner and the name and address of the owner’s agent. For oral rental agreements, tenant must be provided this information in writing at the time of move-in. (§§ 5321.18) Landlord must also file the name, address, and telephone number of the owner and that of owner’s agent, along with the address and parcel number of the property, with the county auditor of the county in which the property is located. (§§ 5323.02) Information filed with the county auditor becomes public information. (§§ 5323.04) Failure to comply with the filing or updating of information requirements subjects landlord to a fine of $50-$150 by the county auditor. (§§ 5323.99)
- Copy of the Lease: No statute
- Domestic Violence Situations: No statute. Statewide support resources include Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Ohio Family Violence Prevention Center and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Office of Victim Services. Also, Aardvarc.org lists other Ohio resources available by county.
- Landlord Obligations: (§§ 5321.04)
- Compliance: Comply with all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes;
- Repairs: Make all repairs and take all reasonable action to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
- Common Areas: Keep all common areas of the premises safe and sanitary;
- Maintenance: Maintain in safe, working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators
- Trash: For rental agreements that cover four or more units in the building, provide and maintain “appropriate receptacles” for the removal of normal garbage and waste and arrange for its removal.
- Water and Heat: Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1. This duty does not apply in cases where the unit is not required by law to be so equipped, or if the unit is supplied with heat or hot water by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
- Landlord Access: Landlord must not abuse the right of access conferred by statute for inspection, repair or improvements or other reasons defined in Tenant Obligations to not withhold access to the premises.
- Prompt Eviction: Landlord has an obligation to promptly start an eviction if landlord has actual knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that the tenant, any person in the tenant’s household, or any person on the premises with tenant’s consent has been or is currently engaged in drug violations on the premises as defined in §§ 1923.02(A)(6)(a)(i), §§ 2925 and §§ 3719.
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: Comply with the rights of tenants under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 117 Stat. 2835, 50 U.S.C. App. 501.
- Tenant Obligations: (§§ 5321.05)
- Compliance: Comply with all applicable state and local housing, health, and safety codes that impose requirements on tenants;
- Cleanliness: Keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses safe and sanitary;
- Trash: Dispose of all garbage and waste in a clean, safe, and sanitary manner;
- Plumbing and Electrical: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the unit or used by tenant as clean as their condition permits, and use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly;
- Appliances: Maintain in good working order and condition any appliances supplied by the landlord and required to be maintained by the tenant under the terms of a written lease;
- Damage and Defacement: Refrain from and forbid any person on the premises with tenant’s permission from destroying, defacing, damaging, or removing any part of the premises, fixtures or appliance;
- Lawful Activity: Must not violate or allow drug-related activity as defined and prohibited in §§ 2925 and §§ 3719 or any similar municipal ordinance;
- Quiet Enjoyment: Must not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by neighbors;
- Reasonable Access: Must not unreasonably withhold consent for landlord to enter unit for inspection, repair, alterations, or improvements, large parcel delivery too large for the tenant’s mail facilities, supply of necessary or agreed services, or showing the unit to prospective or actual buyers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen or contractors.
- Retaliation: Landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening eviction because the tenant has:
- complained to an appropriate governmental agency of a building, housing, health, or safety code violation;
- complained to the landlord of conditions that violate Landlord Obligations as defined in §§ 5321.05;
- or joined with other tenants to negotiate or deal collectively with the landlord on any terms or conditions of a rental agreement.
- Tenant may use any retaliatory action by the landlord as a defense to an eviction, to recover possession of the premises or to terminate the rental agreement. (§§ 5321.02)
- Lead Disclosure: Landlord must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlord must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
- Eviction of Tenant Allowing Sex or Child-victim Offender to Occupy Premises Near School: Landlord may terminate the rental agreement of a tenant who allows occupancy of the premises by any sex offender or child-victim offender prohibited from establishing residence within 1,000 feet of any school or child day-care center under §§ 5321.034. However, if landlord who is authorized to terminate such a tenancy does not do so, landlord is not liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly results from that decision. (§§ 5321.051(2))
- Ohio Small Claims Court
- Limits: $3,000 (§§ 1925.02(A)(1))
- Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims: No, eviction cases in Ohio are heard in county or municipal court or a court of common pleas. (§§ 1923.01(A))
- Ohio Small Claims Court – A Citizen’s Guide (PDF)
- Cleveland Municipal Court – How to File a Small Claim
- Muskingum County Court Guide to Small Claims Court
- Ohio Trial Courts (By County)
- Statute of Limitations
- Written Contracts: 8 years (§§ 2305.06)
- The Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Judicial System
- Ohio Attorney General
- Ohio State Bar Association
- Legal Aid:
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
- [ GUIDE ] Ohio Tenant-Landlord Law – General Guidelines (PDF)
- [ GUIDE ] Ohio Legal Services – Landlord-Tenant Issues
- [ GUIDE ] Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law – What You Should Know (PDF)
- Ohio Department of Insurance
- Ohio Guide to Homeowners Insurance (pdf)
- Ohio.gov – Consumer Protection
- Cleveland Tenants Organization
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Ohio
- Ohio Department Of Commerce – Real Estate Licensing
- REALTORS® Associations
- Landlord Associations
- Ohio Landlord Association
- Lake Erie Landlord Association
- Columbus Apartment Association
- Northeast Ohio Apartment Association
- Greater Dayton Apartment Association
- Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investment Association
- Stark County Real Estate Investors Association
- Akron Canton Real Estate Investors Association
- Columbus Property Investors Association
- Real Estate Investors Association of Greater Cincinnati