Ohio Rent Control Laws in 2024

Ohio Rent Control Laws and How They Affect Tenants and Landlords

This article provides an overview of Ohio's rent control laws, which significantly limit how cities and municipalities can regulate rents. The purpose is to inform both tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to rental rates and rent increases. 

With housing costs rising in many Ohio cities, some local leaders have considered enacting rent control policies to make housing more affordable. However, recent legislation at the state level bans cities and towns from imposing any form of rent control on residential properties.

By explaining the details of these laws, as well as covering key issues like repairs, security deposits, and eviction procedures, this article aims to help tenants and landlords better understand the rules that govern renting in Ohio. While the state prohibits local rent stabilization measures, it's still important for both parties to know their obligations when signing and renewing lease agreements.

Recent Legislation Banning Local Rent Control

In 2021, Ohio passed legislation prohibiting cities from enacting rent control policies. Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 352 into law, which amended the Ohio Revised Code to make rent control ordinances illegal at the local level. 

The law was advocated by the Ohio Apartment Association, a trade group representing rental property owners and managers. Proponents argued that rent control negatively impacts housing availability and the quality and quantity of affordable housing over time.

Critics of the law say it takes away local control from cities to address their specific housing needs. Rent control measures were seen by some local governments as a way to protect tenants from large rent increases and promote affordable housing.  

The state law has effectively banned any municipal rent control ordinances in Ohio. Existing local policies regulating rents, if any, would be considered null and void under the legislation.

The law's effects remain to be seen, but it limits the policy options available to city governments concerned about rising rents and access to affordable housing. With local rent regulations prohibited, tenant advocates will need to explore alternative approaches to stabilize rents in Ohio's major cities.

Rising Rents and Lack of Affordable Housing   

Rents have been steadily increasing across Ohio's major cities in recent years. According to data from Zillow, the median rent in Cleveland rose over 10% between 2018 to 2022, reaching $1,195 per month. Columbus saw similar rent hikes, with the median rent climbing from $1,047 in 2018 to $1,317 in 2022. 

The rising rents have made finding an affordable rental more difficult for many Ohio residents. A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that the state has a shortage of over 143,000 rental homes affordable for extremely low-income renters.  

Contributing to the crunch in affordable rentals is the rise in investor purchases of properties. Big investment firms like Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent, and Progress Residential have been snapping up homes in Ohio metropolitan areas to turn into single-family rentals. Investors accounted for 28.1% of home purchases in the Cleveland area in the second quarter of 2022 according to Redfin data. Critics argue this business model leads to less affordable housing available for purchase by owner-occupants.

Landlord Responsibilities in Ohio

Landlords in Ohio have certain responsibilities they must fulfill under state law and local housing codes. These include:

Complying with Building and Housing Codes

Landlords must ensure rental properties meet all applicable building, housing, health and safety codes. Units must have proper plumbing, electricity, heat, ventilation, locks, smoke detectors, etc. Landlords can face fines if they violate housing codes.  

Making Necessary Repairs

Landlords are required to make repairs needed to keep the rental property habitable and fit for occupancy. This includes structural issues, appliance repairs, pest control, and fixing problems that compromise safety or make the unit unlivable.

Maintaining Common Areas

In multi-unit properties, landlords must properly maintain common areas like lobbies, hallways, shared bathrooms, laundry rooms, recreational facilities, parking lots, etc. Common areas must be kept sanitary, safe and in good working order.

Landlords cannot avoid making required repairs or address major maintenance issues. If a landlord fails to fulfill these responsibilities, tenants can exercise certain remedies under state law, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease.

Tenant Responsibilities in Ohio 

Tenants renting property in Ohio have a number of key responsibilities they must uphold according to state law and standard lease agreements. Failure to meet these tenant duties can result in consequences imposed by the landlord.

Paying Rent

One of the primary duties of a renter is to pay the full amount of rent on time each month. Most lease agreements will specify a grace period, such as within the first 5 days of the month. After that, paying late can trigger late fees, interest charges, or other penalties spelled out in the lease. Non-payment of rent for an extended period is considered a violation of the lease and can lead to eviction.

Maintaining the Unit

Tenants are expected to keep the rental unit in good condition while living there. This includes general housekeeping like vacuuming, cleaning, and otherwise keeping the property tidy. Tenants should not damage the walls, floors, appliances or other parts of the unit beyond normal wear and tear. Smoking or keeping pets if not allowed can also violate the tenant's responsibility to maintain the rental.

Garbage Removal 

Taking out the trash and recycling in a timely manner is part of a renter's duty to keep the unit sanitary. Garbage should be disposed of properly in the appropriate receptacles provided. Letting waste pile up indoors or outdoors on the rental property could attract pests, odors or pose other health hazards. Landlords may fine tenants who fail to remove trash regularly per the lease terms.

Getting Repairs Done

When there is an issue with the rental unit that needs repair, tenants must notify the landlord in writing, detailing the problem. This written notice could be a letter sent by certified mail, an email, or a repair request form. 

Once the tenant has informed the landlord of the necessary repair in writing, the landlord has 30 days in which they must complete the repair. Landlords are required to keep rental properties in compliance with local housing, building and health codes.

If the landlord does not make the requested repair within the 30 day window, the tenant has a few possible remedies:

  • The tenant can notify the landlord again in writing, stating that if the repair is not completed within another 30 days, the tenant will either terminate the lease or hire someone themselves to make the repair and deduct the cost from their rent. 
  • The tenant can take legal action and file a lawsuit against the landlord to force them to make the repairs.
  • For more minor repairs costing less than $100, the tenant can hire a licensed contractor themselves to complete the repair, and deduct up to $100 or one month's rent (whichever is less) from their rent to cover the cost. The tenant must provide the landlord with receipts afterward showing the work that was done and the amount paid.
  • The tenant can report housing code violations to a local housing inspector or health department, who can compel the landlord to make repairs.
  • In cases where the property has become unlivable due to the landlord's refusal to make repairs, the tenant may be able to legally terminate their lease.

Tenants have important remedies available if a landlord fails to properly maintain the rental unit. Following proper notice procedures and documentation is key. It's advisable for tenants to educate themselves on their rights regarding requesting repairs.

Rent Increases

Landlords in Ohio have a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to raising rents on tenants. Unlike some other states, Ohio does not impose statewide limits on the amount or frequency of rent increases. However, landlords are still required to provide tenants with reasonable advance notice before raising the rent under the terms of the lease. 

The standard notice period for rent increases in Ohio is 30 days. This means landlords must notify tenants in writing 30 days prior to the date the higher rent takes effect. Verbal notices are not sufficient. 

While Ohio law does not cap rent increases, extreme hikes could potentially face challenge as being retaliatory if, for example, they closely follow a tenant complaint. Standard annual rent increases in the 5-10% range are common in Ohio cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Some landlords opt for smaller but more frequent increases year-to-year.

Tenants who experience sudden large rent hikes without sufficient notice or explanation may want to review their lease terms and are advised to consult local tenant resources. However, in general, landlords have broad discretion in Ohio to raise rents to market rates. The lack of rent control measures leaves tenants vulnerable to being priced out of their homes.

Security Deposits

Under Ohio law, landlords are limited in the amount they can charge for security deposits:

  • For an unfurnished unit, the deposit cannot exceed 1 month's rent
  • For a furnished unit, the deposit cannot exceed 1.5 month's rent  

When a lease ends, the landlord must return the full security deposit to the tenant within 30 days. Any deductions for damages or unpaid rent must be itemized in writing.

If the landlord fails to return the deposit in full within 30 days, the tenant can take legal action to recover it. Tenants can sue in small claims court for up to $6,000. For larger deposit amounts, hiring an attorney may be necessary. 

Before moving out, tenants should obtain documentation of the original deposit amount and take date-stamped photos showing the condition of the unit. This evidence can support the tenant's case if the landlord improperly withholds any part of the deposit.

Overall, Ohio law provides protections for renters when it comes to security deposits. But tenants should still understand their rights and document relevant details to ensure they get their full deposit back at the end of the lease.

Eviction Rules in Ohio

Ohio landlords must follow proper legal procedures in order to terminate a lease or evict a tenant. They cannot engage in "self-help" eviction tactics such as locking out a tenant or shutting off utilities. 

Instead, the eviction process begins with the landlord providing written notice to the tenant that they are in violation of the lease. Common reasons a landlord may seek to evict a tenant include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Damaging the property 
  • Violent or threatening behavior
  • Violating the lease terms

For nonpayment of rent, the landlord must provide a 3-day notice to vacate before filing for eviction. For other lease violations, a longer 30-day notice period is required.

The notice must clearly state the reason for eviction and give the tenant an opportunity to fix the issue. If the tenant fails to comply within the notice period, the landlord can then file for a court-ordered eviction. 

A formal eviction lawsuit must be filed and properly served on the tenant. There will be a court hearing where the tenant can present defenses against the eviction. If the court rules in the landlord's favor, a writ of restitution is issued and law enforcement can forcibly remove the tenant if they refuse to vacate.

The entire legal eviction process can take weeks or longer. Tenants who receive an eviction notice should seek legal assistance to understand their rights and options. In some cases, evictions can be avoided if violations are remedied.

Fair Housing Standards

The Fair Housing Act and Ohio Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability or ancestry. Under fair housing laws, landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants or treat tenants differently based on their membership in a protected class.

Some examples of unlawful housing discrimination include:

  • Refusing to rent to families with children
  • Charging higher rents or security deposits based on race
  • Denying reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities  
  • Harassment or intimidation of tenants due to religion or ethnicity

If a tenant believes they have experienced discrimination by a landlord in Ohio, they can file a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The commission will investigate the allegations and determine if discrimination occurred under state or federal fair housing laws. 

Tenants can also file a federal fair housing complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD may assist the tenant in trying to resolve the issue directly with the landlord or initiate an investigation.

Fair housing laws aim to ensure equal access to housing opportunities for all. Landlords have a responsibility to understand anti-discrimination laws and should develop objective, non-discriminatory criteria for tenant selection and housing policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cap on rent increases in Ohio?

Ohio does not have a state-mandated cap on rent increases. This means landlords can set rent prices as they see fit, provided they adhere to the terms of the lease agreement and give proper notice before implementing any increases.

Are there rent control laws in Ohio?

Ohio does not have statewide rent control laws. Rent control policies would limit how much rent can be increased and could include regulations on eviction processes, but such policies are not in place at the state level in Ohio.

What is the landlord-tenant law in Ohio 2024?

Ohio's landlord-tenant law regulates rental agreements, including landlord and tenant duties, evictions, and security deposits. For specifics or any 2024 updates, consult the Ohio Revised Code or seek legal advice.

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