Find answers to frequently asked questions about landlord-tenant law. This page can help you find solutions to your problems with residential rentals.
These rules only apply in Hamilton County, Ohio. If you are in another region, please check with your courts and legal aid for your local rules.
Are there ways to negotiate solutions to problems with my landlord, or with my tenant?
Many landlord-tenant disputes can be resolved by communicating with one another.
It can be helpful to know specifically what you are asking for and to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their perspective.
As you communicate, be sure to maintain written records of it. This could be in the form of paper letters, or emails and texts that you are able to print out.
Written agreements often protect both parties because it makes the agreement clear to everyone and can be referred to later.
Can I get my security deposit back from my landlord?
Can I withhold a security deposit from my tenant?
A landlord may require a tenant to pay a security deposit to compensate for any unpaid rent, damages or other unpaid charges at move out.
Unless agreed to, the security deposit cannot be used as the last month’s rent.
Ohio law says that if the tenant provides the landlord with a forwarding address when they move out, the landlord has 30 days to send the security deposit or an itemized list of why all or part of the deposit is being withheld.
If the landlord does not do this, the tenant can sue for double the wrongfully withheld portion of the deposit. This is often done in small claims court.
However, if the unpaid rent, damages and other charges are more than the security deposit, the landlord could countersue the tenant for the difference.
What does the law require from residential landlords?
If the tenant reasonably believes that the landlord violated these obligations, the tenant is able to begin the rent escrow process.
The landlord’s obligations in the Ohio law are:
These obligations are from Ohio law R.C. 5321.04.
What do residential renters have to do to follow the law in Ohio? What kind of behavior can lead to an eviction?
If the landlord believes the tenant violated these obligations, the landlord can start the eviction process after giving proper notice to the tenant.
The tenant’s obligations in the Ohio law are:
These tenant obligations are from Ohio Law RC 5321.05.
If a lease is month-to-month, how can a landlord or tenant legally end them?
Most renters are not on a written lease and are considered “month-to-month.” They may have been on a written lease for their first year and then transitioned to a month-to-month after that, or they may never have had a written lease.
Either the landlord or tenant can terminate a month-to-month tenancy by giving a written notice a full 30-days before the “periodic tenancy date.” This usually refers to the date rent is due.
So, if rent is due on the 1st, the landlord or tenant would need to give a notice to the other a full 30-days before the 1st of the next month.
Example: Tenant gives the landlord a notice on October 15th saying they would be out by November 30th. If the tenant does not give the landlord a proper notice, they could be charged for the next month. If the landlord gives a proper notice, and the tenant doesn’t leave, they could face eviction.
When is it okay to raise the rent? What does a landlord have to do to follow the law?
When a written lease is in effect, rent increases would only be allowed if the written lease allows it. They usually don’t for the period of the lease.
For a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord can increase the rent with “reasonable notice.” This isn’t well-defined, but a full calendar month of written notice is consistently considered “reasonable notice.”
What can a tenant do if they think their landlord is treating them poorly out of retaliation?
Ohio law prohibits the landlord from retaliating against a tenant by increasing the tenant's rent, decreasing services that are due to the tenant, or bringing or threatening to bring an eviction against the tenant.
The landlord cannot retaliate against the tenant for the following situations: