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Ohio Law


Like most states Ohio has defined statutory obligations and remedies for Landlord and Tenants. These rules are articulated in section 5321 of the Ohio revised code. In most cases the rules are self explanatory and very specific. Over the years both tenants and landlords have sought creative ways to interpret or otherwise attempt side step these obligations. For simple straight forward cases either party may seek relief pro se in the small claims court of their jurisdictions. In cases where conduct is subject to interpretation or the law is somewhat ambiguous it may be wise to engage an attorney. This is particularly true when the extent of potential damages, or itemization of damages (monetary/property claims against the other party) is not clear. For example in some cases and Landlord may be liable for the move out expenses, and cost differential of renting a different space. When in doubt contact an attorney.I have attempted to provide some of the key aspects of the code in the following sections. This section and the following pages are not intended to be a comprehesive description of Ohio Landlord/Tenant and should not be used in lieu of competent legal advise from an attorney or careful reading of the Ohio Revised Code.


In assessing the roles and responsibilities of individuals under applicable Ohio law it is important to understand how the terms within the statute are to be interpertred. The following definitions are identified withinthe Ohio code and are the basis of any interpretation and application of the statutes dealing with Landlord/Tenant obligations.

(A) "Tenant" means a person entitled under a rental agreement to the use and occupancy of residential premises to the exclusion of others.

(B) "Landlord" means the owner, lessor, or sublessor of residential premises, the agent of the owner, lessor, or sublessor, or any person authorized by the owner, lessor, or sublessor to manage the premises or to receive rent from a tenant under a rental agreement.

(C) "Residential premises" means

a dwelling unit for residential use and occupancy and the structure of which it is a part, the facilities and appurtenances in it, and the grounds, areas, and facilities for the use of tenants generally or the use of which is promised the tenant.

"Residential premises" includes a dwelling unit that is owned or operated by a college or university. "Residential premises" does not include any of the following:

(1) Prisons, jails, workhouses, and other places of incarceration or correction, including, but not limited to, halfway houses or residential arrangements which are used or occupied as a requirement of probation or parole;

(2) Hospitals and similar institutions with the primary purpose of providing medical services, and homes licensed pursuant to Chapter 3721. of the Revised Code;

(3) Tourist homes, hotels, motels, and other similar facilities where circumstances indicate a transient occupancy;

(4) Elementary and secondary boarding schools, where the cost of room and board is included as part of the cost of tuition;

(5) Orphanages and similar institutions;

(6) Farm residences furnished in connection with the rental of land of a minimum of two acres for production of agricultural products by one or more of the occupants;

(8) Occupancy by an owner of a condominium unit;

(9) Occupancy in a facility licensed as an SRO facility pursuant to Chapter 3731. of the Revised Code, if the facility is owned or operated by an organization that is exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the "Internal Revenue Code of 1986," 100 Stat. 2085, 26 U.S.C.A. 501, as amended, or by an entity or group of entities in which such an organization has a controlling interest, and if either of the following applies:

(a) The occupancy is for a period of less than sixty days;

(b) The occupancy is for participation in a program operated by the facility, or by a public entity or private charitable organization pursuant to a contract with the facility, to provide either of the following:

(i) Services licensed, certified, registered, or approved by a governmental agency or private accrediting organization for the rehabilitation of mentally ill persons, developmentally disabled persons, adults or juveniles convicted of criminal offenses, or persons suffering from substance abuse;

(ii) Shelter for juvenile runaways, victims of domestic violence, or homeless persons.

(10) Emergency shelters operated by organizations exempt from federal income taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the "Internal Revenue Code of 1986," 100 Stat. 2085, 26 U.S.C.A. 501, as amended, for persons whose circumstances indicate a transient occupancy, including homeless people, victims of domestic violence, and juvenile runaways.

(D) "Rental agreement" means any agreement or lease, written or oral, which establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of residential premises by one of the parties.

(E) "Security deposit" means any deposit of money or property to secure performance by the tenant under a rental agreement.

(F) "Dwelling unit" means a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one person who maintains a household or by two or more persons who maintain a common household.

(G) "Controlled substance" has the same meaning as in section 3719.01 of the Revised Code.

(H) "Student tenant" means a person who occupies a dwelling unit owned or operated by the college or university at which the person is a student, and who has a rental agreement that is contingent upon the person's status as a student.

Law offices Jacob M. Rzepka 5035 Mayfield Rd. Lyndhurst, Ohio 44236 (216)-923-1309
Hours By Appointment - Evening and Weekend Appointment Available

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