While landlords in Ohio are not required by law to collect a security deposit, it is generally considered best practice to do so. That being said, if as a landlord you do decide to collect a security deposit, there are a few things you need to know. For example, it’s important to know how to treat the deposit, how to securely store it, and what you can use the deposit to cover.
Landlords are not required to collect a security deposit from tenants in Ohio. However, it is best practice for landlords to collect one in order to best protect themselves and their rentals from potential damages or missed rent payments.
There is no maximum security deposit in Ohio. Generally, a security deposit is equal to one month’s rent. Too high and you will put off prospective tenants, too low and you may not cover potential costs, should you need to use the security deposit.
In Ohio, landlords can use the security deposit to reclaim losses from either damage to the property or missed rent payments.
Landlords can commingle the security deposit with the rest of their assets. However, keeping it separate will likely make it easier to manage and track.
Should landlords collect a deposit and it is equal to or greater than either $50 or one month’s rent – whichever is lower – it must be placed in an interest-bearing account. The account must earn 5% interest per year, and the landlord must compute the interest and pay it to the tenant yearly.
Landlords do not need to give tenants a receipt for the security deposit. However, it is generally considered best practice to do so as it removes any room for confusion. If a landlord does not want to provide a tenant with a receipt, they could include a clause in the lease addressing the security deposit.
Landlords have 30 days from the date the tenant moves out to return the deposit to the tenant. The deposit may be withheld for unpaid rent, damage to the rental unit, and breaking the lease. If the landlord withholds any portion of the deposit, he or she must send a written statement containing an itemized list of the damage to the apartment that was charged to the tenant’s deposit.
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Landlords may create either written or oral rental agreements. However, we highly recommend the use of written leases; it is the only way to ensure both parties know the terms of the agreement.
A written lease must include the name and address of the owner or the owner’s agent. If the owner of the building is a company, then the company’s name and address of the principal place of business must be in the lease. If the lease is oral, the landlord must send the tenant a written note that includes the information required. A written lease should address topics in the graphic below.
There is no statute regarding whether rental agreements are required. However, it is generally considered best practice to have a detailed and legally binding rental agreement for all of your tenancies. This helps prevent potential conflicts and ensure tenants pay their rent on time and in full.
Landlords cannot include the following provisions in rental agreements:
There are no statutory grace periods in Ohio. Therefore, landlords may charge late fees the day after rent is due. However, landlords must be cautious if they plan to include late fees in their leases because courts are reluctant to enforce late fees if they are deemed to be unreasonable.
Landlords may accept payment for rent in any form they would like. Although it is not required, we recommend giving the tenant a receipt for payment. Both parties benefit from a record of this transaction.
For fixed term leases, such as a lease for 12 months, the rental agreement is assumed to terminate at the end of the term stated in the lease. The landlord and tenant may include a provision that automatically renews the lease at the end of the rental term unless otherwise stated.
For month-to-month and week-to-week leases, the rental agreement automatically renews at the end of the lease term unless the landlord or tenant tells the other that they would like to terminate the lease. For a month-to-month lease, the landlord or tenant must provide the other party a month’s notice before termination. Before terminating a week-to-week lease, the landlord or tenant must provide seven days notice to the other party.
In Ohio landlords may enter the property for any of the following reasons:
However, just because the landlord has the right to enter the property for these reasons does not mean they can simply turn up. Landlords must give reasonable notice before entry.
Reasonable notice is presumed to be at least 24 hours but as a rule, more notice is preferred. Additionally, entry is only allowed at reasonable times.
So long as the landlord has provided reasonable notice tenants cannot unreasonably deny the landlord access to the property.
Under Ohio law landlords may evict a tenant for the following reasons:
Before a landlord files an eviction with the courts, they must first give the tenant written notice demanding that possession of the property be returned to them.
The notice must include the following language:
“You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance.”
If the landlord is evicting the tenant for any of the three following reasons: for unpaid rent, drug activity, or allowing a registered sex offender to stay in a rental unit 1,000 feet from a school, the notice must provide the tenant with at least three days to move out.
In the scenario where the landlord is evicting the tenant due to the tenant breaching the lease agreement, the landlord must allow the tenant at least 30 days to fix the issue or move out. Should the tenant fail to fix the issue within 30 days and have not moved out, the landlord may proceed with filing an eviction at court.
If the landlord wins the case in court, they will receive a “writ of execution”. A “writ of execution” is essentially a document that entitles the landlord to retake possession of the property. If the tenant refuses to move, the writ of execution can be given to the sheriff and they will remove the tenant from the rental unit within 10 days of receiving the “writ of execution”.
It is the landlord’s duty in Ohio to ensure that the property is properly maintained and stays in a fit and habitable condition. This means undertaking necessary repairs and maintenance promptly. It also means landlords have a responsibility and duty to:
Additionally, landlords are required to ensure the property is safe with all external swinging doors fitted with a deadbolt lock.
According to Ohio Revised Code section 5321.07, if the landlord fails to fulfill their obligations, the tenant may give notice in writing to the landlord, identifying what duty the landlord has failed to fulfill. The notice shall be sent wherever the rent is normally paid.
If a landlord does not fix the condition within a reasonable time, or within thirty days, whichever is sooner, and if the tenant is current with their rent payments, the tenant can do one of three things which include:
Ohio Revised Code section 5321.07 does not apply to a landlord who is a party to rental agreements that cover three or fewer premises and provides notice of that fact in a written rental agreement or, in the case of an oral tenancy, delivers written notice of that fact to the tenant at the time of initial occupancy by the tenant or to premises occupied by a student tenant.
Should the landlord fail to give an itemized receipt of the damages at the end of the tenancy and still attempt to deduct an amount from the deposit, 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))
Ohio Revised Code section 5321.05 sets forth the obligations to which the tenant must abide by and include:
The tenant cannot deny the landlord entry if reasonable purpose and/or notice is provided by the landlord.
If the tenant does not perform these duties, the landlord pursuant to 5321.11 may terminate the rental agreement by delivering written notice to the tenant identifying the specific conduct that constitutes noncompliance with the tenant’s duties.
The written notice must also state the date on which the rental agreement will terminate. This date cannot be less than thirty days after providing the tenant with the notice. If the tenant does not fix the conduct identified by the landlord in the written notice, then the rental agreement will terminate as indicated in the notice.
In Ohio, there are no laws that stipulate that the landlord must change the locks between tenancies. However, landlords must ensure there are working keep deadbolt locks on external doors. If locks are not in working order, the landlord must have them replaced.
As a final word, it is generally considered best practice to renew locks whenever a new tenant moves in. Ohio landlords commonly practice this. You can find out more about landlord locks here.
As is the case in most states in the US, there are laws protecting tenants from landlord retaliation in Ohio (§§ 5321.02). Landlords in Ohio cannot retaliate by raising the rent, decreasing services, or threaten the tenant with eviction should the tenant do the following:
If the landlord is deemed to have retaliated against the tenant, then the 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), and is entitled to recover costs incurred because of the landlord’s retaliation plus any attorney fees.
If the county that the rental property is in has over 200,000 residents, the landlord is required to register the property with the county.
Lead Disclosure: The landlord must disclose all known lead paint hazards. The landlord must also provide tenants with an information pamphlet, as an attachment to a written lease, on lead-based paint hazards. Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home
Below you’ll find helpful Ohio landlord-tenant law resources:
This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney for any decision or course of action contemplated.