If your landlord fails to make all repairs and “do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep [your apartment] in a fit and habitable condition,” or to keep all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances in good and safe working order and condition, and if such failure causes you reason to believe that there is no reason to believe the landlord ever will get around to making such repairs or improvements (generally within 30 days), the law offers recourse.
Landlord Liability For Not Keeping Apartments Habitable
Under Section 5321.07 of the Ohio Revised Code, as long as you are otherwise current in the payment of your rent, and upon giving proper written notice to your landlord, you can –
- escrow your rent through qualifying deposits into a court of competent jurisdiction, or
- apply for a court order directing the landlord to remedy the condition, or
- terminate your lease.
Strict compliance with the provisions of this statute is required to avoid a later claim by the landlord that your efforts to avail yourself of these statutory remedies were defective, thereby exposing you to an eviction proceeding. So, before taking any drastic steps in exercising any of these rights, you should consider retaining an experienced real estate attorney to guide your way.
Landlord Liability Under Other Conditions
The statutory remedies listed above are not exclusive. In addition, you still have the right to pursue other claims in court for breach of contract and damages caused by other actionable wrongs of your landlord.
If your landlord retaliates against you in any of the following ways, you also would have recourse under Section 5321.02 of the Ohio Revised Code to take your landlord to court to fight back and recover your actual damages and reimbursement of your attorney fees for the successful prosecution of your retaliation claim arising out of:
- your complaint of a violation of a building, housing, health, or safety code to an appropriate governmental agency where the violation “materially affects” health and safety, or
- your complaint of the landlord’s violation of the standards for maintaining your apartment in a “fit and habitable condition,” as summarized above, or
- your formation of a group of tenants for the purpose of negotiating or dealing collectively with the landlord on any of the terms and conditions of your lease(s).
A Two-Way Street … Your Duties as a Tenant
Ohio law imposes several duties on a tenant, the breach of which exposes the tenant to a claim for damages by the landlord. Among these duties, all spelled out in Section 5321.05 of the Ohio Revised Code, are:
- keeping the part of the premises that you occupy or use safe and sanitary, and
- disposing of all trash and other forms of waste in a clean, safe, and sanitary fashion, and
- keeping all plumbing fixtures “as clean as their condition permits,” and
- using and operating all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly, and
- complying with the requirements imposed on tenants by state and local housing, health, and safety codes, and
- refraining from intentionally or negligently destroying, defacing, or removing any fixture, appliance, or another part of the premises and forbidding any other person with your permission from doing any of those things, and
- maintaining the range, refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and other appliances supplied by the landlord in good working order where the lease requires the tenant to maintain those appliances, and
- conducting yourself in such a manner as to avoid disturbing your neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises and requiring other persons on the premises with your consent to do the same, and
- conducting yourself (and requiring others on the premises with your consent to conduct themselves) in such manner as to avoid violations of all laws and regulations relating to controlled substances (something that also imposes on the landlord extra duties to act swiftly to evict you from the premises), and
- not unreasonably withholding your consent for the landlord to enter your dwelling unit to inspect the premises, make ordinary, necessary, or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, deliver parcels too large for your mail facilities, supply necessary or agreed services to your dwelling unit, or show your dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors.
The Law Offices of S. David Worhatch offer counseling and advocacy services in a wide range of real estate matters, including purchase and sale of property, residential and commercial leases, zoning and building code enforcement and land use regulation, licensing, options to buy or sell, resolving disputes between and among joint owners, dealings with homeowner and condominium associations, property tax valuation protests and challenges, litigation involving title, use, liens, and encumbrances of real property, and disputes between and among joint owners of real estate in Northeast Ohio. Based in Stow, Ohio, in Northern Summit County, the firm provides expert legal counsel tailored to your unique personal circumstances. Attorney Worhatch has nearly 40 years of experience and has earned a five-star reputation for carrying out his clients’ intentions and helping them sort through their various options in a comprehensive way. Should you need his representation, call (330) 656-2300 or go online to schedule a consultation.