Housing Issues

While living in your off-campus house or apartment, you may encounter any of a whole host of issues, and it's important for you to know your rights, as well as your obligations, as a tenant of a rental unit or house in Ohio. 

Tenant Rights

As long as you follow the leasing agreement and fulfill your responsibilities, you have the following rights, according to the Ohio State Bar Association

  • ​You have the right to complain to a governmental agency if your landlord violates housing laws or regulations affecting health and safety. 
  • You have the right to complain to your landlord for failing to perform any legal duties. If you complain and the landlord retaliates by increasing rent, decreasing services or seeking to evict you for complaining, the landlord has violated the law. There are legal remedies to stop or punish retaliation, such as terminating your lease and recovering damages and attorneys’ fees. 
  • You have the right to join with other tenants to bargain with your landlord about lease terms. 
  • You have the right to know the name and address of the owner of your residential premises and the owner’s agent, if applicable. This information must appear in your written lease or be given to you in writing at the beginning of your tenancy if the lease is oral. If your landlord fails to provide this information, you do not have to notify your landlord before you escrow your rent with the court. The county auditor also maintains records on the owners of residential properties.
  • You have a right of privacy, which the landlord must respect. The landlord may enter your apartment after reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) for certain legitimate reasons and without notice in certain emergency situations.
  • If you breach your lease, the landlord may not seize your furnishings or possessions to recover rent payments. 
  • Within 30 days after receiving a written complaint from you about the premises, the landlord must make appropriate repairs. The landlord must remedy conditions that significantly affect health and safety in fewer than 30 days and must act immediately in the case of emergency.
    • If the landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable amount of time (not more than 30 days), you may have the right to get a court order for repairs to be made, obtain a court-ordered reduction in rent or terminate the lease. You also may have the right to escrow your rent. Escrowing your rent means that you deposit your rental payments with the clerk of the municipal or county court, depending on where you live, instead of paying your landlord. You can escrow your rent ONLY after having waited a full 30 days after providing notice to the landlord of its failure to fulfill obligations (unless there is an emergency such as lack of heat in winter or lack of water). The notice must be clear and detailed enough that your landlord and the court will be able to understand exactly what is wrong. You must deposit your rent into escrow at the same time you would normally pay your rent. Warning: If you do not follow the proper escrow procedure, you can be evicted. 
    • You may NOT escrow your rent if: you are not current in your rental payments (escrowing rent when you are not current could result in being evicted and losing the money in escrow to your landlord); or you received written notice when you moved in that the landlord owns three or fewer dwelling units

Tenant Responsibilities

As a tenant, you must:

  • Keep the premises safe and sanitary.
  • Dispose of all garbage in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Keep plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit as clean as their condition permits. 
  • Operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
  • Comply with the standards imposed by all state and local housing, health and safety codes.
  • Not intentionally or negligently destroy, deface, damage or remove any fixture, appliance or other part of the premises, or allow your guests to do so. 
  • Keep clean and use appropriately any appliances the landlord has provided and promptly tell your landlord if your appliances need repair.  
  • Not disturb, or allow your guests to disturb, your neighbors.
  • Not allow controlled substances (such as drugs) to be present on the property.
  • Allow your landlord reasonable access (upon 24 hours notice) to the premises to inspect, make repairs or show the property to prospective buyers or renters. Twenty-four hours of notice is not required in emergencies, or for the landlord to deliver large parcels, or upon agreement with the landlord.
  • Not allow sexual predators to occupy the unit if the unit is located within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool or child daycare center.

The tenant cannot change any of these legal duties, but the landlord may agree to assume responsibility for fulfilling any of them. 

This information, based on Ohio law, is issued to inform you, not to advise you about your particular case. Do not try to apply or interpret the law without help from an attorney who knows the facts, which may change the way the law is applied. Low-income tenants may qualify for free legal services from legal aid programs, which are available in all Ohio counties. To contact a legal aid provider near you, call 1-866-LAW-OHIO.

For more information about landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities, visit the Ohio State Bar Association