The Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law defines the legal duties, rights and remedies for all tenants and landlords. Neither party can legally give up their rights guaranteed by the law.

This document is not a legal analysis of the law. Tenants and Landlords (only if you are residents of Allen County or the City of Lima) are advised to contact the Lima Municipal Court if they believe the law has been violated.


The law covers all tenants who pay rent for a place to live. The law does not apply to owner occupied condominiums; nursing homes; hotels and motels; or farm residences which are furnished and rented with at least two acres of productive land.

Tenants living in mobile homes and mobile home parks are covered by legislation similar to the Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law.


Before renting, a tenant should find out what is offered; duties they will have; utilities they will pay; and the landlord's duties.

A landlord and tenant may make any agreement that does not take away rights protected by the Landlord-Tenant Law.

A rental agreement can be as long or short as both parties wish.

A rental agreement cannot:


Both the tenant and landlord have duties under the law that become part of an oral or written rental agreement.

The tenant must:

  1. Keep the apartment clean.
  2. Put out garbage in proper containers.
  3. Use electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
  4. Follow local housing, health and safety rules.
  5. Not damage the landlord's property or disturb neighbors.
  6. Use appliances with care.
  7. Make sure guests do not destroy the landlord's property or disturb other residents.
  8. Notify the landlord when something needs to be fixed.

The landlord must:

  1. Obey all health and safety laws and regulations.
  2. Make all repairs needed to maintain the property in good condition.
  3. Keep all common areas safe, clean and in good repair.
  4. Maintain in good working order all electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning fixtures and applications which the landlord provides or is required to provide.
  5. Provide and maintain garbage cans and provide for trash removal where there are four or more units in the building.
  6. Supply running water and enough hot water and heat at all times, unless there are separate heat or hot water units for each dwelling unit and the utility fees for the heat and hot water are paid directly by the tenant to a public utility company.
  7. Give at least 24 hours notice to a tenant before trying to enter their apartment and enter only at reasonable times unless there is an emergency.
  8. Not abuse the right to enter.


In addition to duties, the law guarantees tenants and landlords specific rights.

The tenant has the right to:

The landlord has the right to:


If a tenant believes that a landlord has not lived up to any legal duty or has not done what is required in the rental agreement, or a governmental agency finds that the apartment is in violation of any law or regulation that could affect health and safety, the tenant can:

  1. Sue the landlord for money damages.
  2. Force the landlord to make repairs within 30 days of giving written notice to repair. The notice must be sent to the place where rent is normally paid or given to the owner.
If the landlord does not make the repair the tenant can do any of the following:

  1. Take the rent when it is due to the local clerk of courts. A tenant must be current in their rent with the clerk of courts (called rent deposit). The tenant does not need an attorney for rent depositing.
  2. Apply to the court to order the landlord to make the repairs. The court can also lower the rent until the repairs are made or give the tenant some of the rent money so the tenant can have the repairs made.
  3. End the lease.
  4. Cancel the rental agreement and move. This can be done only after the tenant has given appropriate notice, and the landlord has failed to correct the condition.


Landlords may require a security deposit from a tenant. It is to cover any unpaid rent or damages caused by the tenant.

The landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days after the rental agreement ends and the tenant moves out. The landlord may deduct the cost of any repair for items other than normal wear and tear. All charges must be listed separately by the landlord and the list must be sent with the rest of the deposit. If the tenant does not receive the security deposit or disagrees with the deductions, the tenant may sue to get back the amount in dispute.

When the tenant gives the landlord an address to send the security deposit, and has given proper notice to end the rental agreement, the security deposit or a written explanation from the landlord must be sent within 30 days or the tenant may sue for twice the amount the landlord has kept and reasonable attorney's fees. Suits for under $1,000 may be brought in Small Claims Court without an attorney.


A landlord is permitted to request a security deposit of any size. If the landlord keeps the deposit for at least six months, the tenant must be paid interest on any part of the deposit which exceeds one month's rent. The deposit may be kept by the landlord for any unpaid rent or for damages done to the apartment.


Security Deposits -- Ohio's Landlord-Tenant law establishes a detailed procedure concerning the return of security deposits. The Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has outlined some of the dangers when a landlord does not meet all of the requirements with precision. Nolan v. Sutton, 97 Ohio App. 3d 616 (Ham. Co. 1994).

In this case, the tenant sued the landlord for retaining her security deposit. The landlord had kept $40 of the $460 security deposit. The landlord sent $420 to the tenant, along with a "transmittal" form showing that $40 had been withheld for "cleaning." After the tenant sued, the trial court ordered the landlord to pay $80 in double damages and $500 in attorney fees to the tenant. The Appeals Court upheld the award.

Under the Landlord-Tenant law, deductions can be made to a security deposit for (a) noncompliance with a tenant's statutory obligations, and (b) noncompliance with the lease requirements. Any security deposit deduction must be itemized. If the landlord does not comply with the statute's requirements, double the amount wrongfully withheld can be awarded to the tenant, plus reasonable attorney fees. Section 5321.16, Ohio Revised Code. In this case, the Court held that the itemization of "$40-cleaning" was not sufficient to meet the landlord's obligation. (The sufficiency of the itemization is determined as of the time it is sent, and not on the basis of any later clarification.) The reason that this itemization was insufficient was that it did not differentiate between cleaning due to ordinary wear and tear (for which the tenant had no obligation) and something extraordinary.


If the tenant rents month-to-month, either the tenant or landlord can end the tenancy by giving notice 30 days before the rent is due. If the tenant rents week-to-week, either the tenant or landlord can end the tenancy by giving a seven day notice before the rent is due. The landlord can increase the rent by following the same notice procedures.

If the tenant is under a written lease for a term greater than one month, the lease ends at the end date of the lease, unless the lease states the lease will continue. Rent cannot be raised during the term of the lease.


Lockouts: A landlord may not lock a tenant out of his/her apartment, shut off the utilities, take the tenant's belongings or use force to make the tenant pay rent or leave the apartment.

Retaliation: A landlord cannot raise the rent, decrease services, or threaten to evict a tenant who asserts his or her legal rights.

Abuse of Access: A landlord cannot harass the tenant by repeatedly coming into his/her apartment.

(only if you are residents of Allen County or the City of Lima)
Landlord-Tenant discrimination complaints can be filed with:

Lima Municipal Court
Hall of Justice
109 N. Union Street
Lima , Ohio 45801