Landlord-Tenant FAQs

If I have a non-written lease, will I still be protected?

Yes. The Ohio Revised Code outlines duties for both landlords and tenants in a lease agreement. This generally has no impact to written leases, since they normally list or reference these provisions. However, even in a month-to month or short-term lease, it is always better to get the lease agreement in writing to: 1) ensure all parties are on the same page, and 2) provide evidence of the terms of the agreement should it be breached by any party involved.

I have tenants that haven't paid rent in 3 months, can I just lock them out and throw away their belongings?

No. Ohio law prohibits landlords from engaging in self-help evictions. The proper way to evict a tenant is by way of a "Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer." Basically, you need to get a court order to regain possession of the property. Self help eviction includes any of the following:

  • Canceling utilities;
  • Changing the locks or otherwise preventing a tenant's access to the property;
  • Forcible entering the property and destroying / throwing away a tenant's belongings.

Any landlord who engages in such actions is liable to the tenant for damages.

I filed an eviction but the tenant filed bankruptcy immediately after I got judgment in my favor - can I still proceed with the eviction?

No. Under federal bankruptcy law, as soon as a debtor files his or her bankruptcy petition, all actions presently against that person are immediately stayed or suspended. The best approach in this situation is to either 1) get permission from the court; or 2) wait for the bankruptcy to be closed to proceed with the eviction.

If the tenant receives a discharge from the bankruptcy court, then any amount of back rent or damages owed by the tenant on or before the date of filing become uncollectable.

I have a tenant who pays rent on time, but I know there is drug use – do I have grounds for an eviction?

Generally yes, but you need evidence of the drug use to justify the eviction if you have no other grounds. Unfortunately, evictions based on drug use take longer than standard evictions (nonpayment, damage, other breaches of the lease).

I am evicting two tenants but they are uncollectable, can I use the security deposit for unpaid rent?

Generally yes. Unless the terms of the lease explicitly prohibit it, a landlord can apply a tenant's security deposit to as much delinquent rent as the deposit will cover (normally only one month unless the tenant paid more than that as a deposit). However, deposits for pets normally cover damages covered by those pets, and usually, by the terms of the lease, will not be applied to late or delinquent rent.

I complained to the landlord about repairs that haven't been made, do I need to keep paying rent?

Yes, as long as you reside at the property, you are required to pay rent. However, if you have made complaints which the landlord has failed to address, you are permitted to place your rent on deposit with the court, which the landlord must file paperwork to obtain.

I got evicted because I complained to the health department about the problems with the apartment – do I have a claim?

Yes. If a landlord evicts a tenant because he / she complains to the landlord, complains to a state or local agency, or attempts to establish a tenant's association, the landlord has engaged in retaliatory eviction. If a landlord engages in such actions, the landlord will be liable to the tenant for any damages caused by the landlord's actions.

Landlord-Tenant Law is a complicated process and any issues should be discussed with a licensed attorney to review any and all potential claims.

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