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Do I have the right to maintain some privacy when it comes to a landlord’s application process?

Fair Housing laws are very specific on what landlords are not allowed to ask for during the application process. Landlords CAN collect information about your employment, credit history, rental history and criminal convictions. Landlords CANNOT ask you questions related to your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, family or military status.

I have a criminal record. Do I still have rights under Fair Housing?

Yes. According to the Fair Housing Act, it may be a violation of the law if a landlord refuses you as a tenant just because you have a criminal record. They can deny you because your record shows reasons why you may not be a responsible and safe tenant (for example, if you had a conviction for arson). If you’ve been arrested, but were not convicted, that is NOT a legal reason to deny you housing if you are applying to live in housing funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Does a landlord have the right to evict me if my rent is late?

This is dependent on the agreement between you and your landlord. If your landlord offers a grace period in your lease and your rent is being paid within that grace period, your landlord must accept the payment. However, if your lease has no grace period then your landlord can refuse to accept the payment and move forward with eviction proceedings. If your landlord refuses to accept the rent, they probably intend to file for an eviction.

My landlord raised the rent; do I have the right to refuse to pay the difference?

Maybe. If you have a written lease and rent increases are not a provision written into your lease anywhere, then you do not have to pay the increased rent amount. If you do not have a written lease, your landlord can raise your rent by any amount. Under these circumstances, you’re more than likely considered a month-to-month tenant, so you must be provided with at least 30 days in advance notice before the next time rent is due prior to a rent increase.

Does Ohio law say that my landlord has to treat for bed bugs, insects, pests and other rodents?

No. Ohio Landlord Tenant Law has not spelled out who is responsible for treatment of these issues. Rules do vary by county, village, township and city, so be sure to check your local ordinances.

What protection do I have from my landlord retaliating towards me for making requests or complaints?

If you have made a complaint to a public official, your landlord, or joined a group of fellow tenants in a complaint regarding your lease, Ohio law forbids your landlord from retaliating against you. Prohibited actions include increasing the rent, decreasing services, filing an eviction or threatening to evict you. Any landlord who engages in retaliation can be held liable for any actual damages to you, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and may be required to let you back into the unit if you were improperly evicted.

As a person with a disability, do I have a right to request accommodations?

Yes. You are allowed to request reasonable accommodations that will allow you to maintain your housing. You can also request a reasonable modification to your apartment or the common areas of the building, such as bathroom grab bars, wheelchair accessible entryways or wider doorways. Please know that if you live in private-landlord housing (including section 8 voucher housing), the landlord is not required to pay for any modifications, and may require you to remove it before you leave. Landlords are not required to grant your accommodation request if it would cause a large financial or administrative burden, change the type of the housing they provide, or if the accommodation could be a potential direct physical threat to the other tenants.

Can a landlord evict me for a lease violation that is related to my disability?

In general, your landlord cannot evict you for a lease violation that is related to your disability. If your landlord tries to evict you for a lease violation related to your disability, you can make a request for accommodations any time before the actual eviction.

When it comes to service animals, what rights do I have?

In general, you have the right to have a service animal as a reasonable accommodation. Even if pets are restricted or prohibited where you live, your landlord must still grant the request as service animals are not pets. For this same reason, your landlord also cannot charge you any pet fees/rent.

Do I have the right to defend myself during my eviction process?

Yes. You can go and file an answer before the court hearing or you can answer during the hearing. Under both situations, you will have to prove that either your landlord didn’t follow all the eviction procedures correctly, you were paying your rent to the Clerk of Courts, the eviction filing is an act of retaliation or that your landlord filed the eviction on the basis of a status protected by the Fair Housing Act.

What if I want a lawyer to represent me in a eviction?

You have the right to have an attorney represent you; however this right is not a given, so you would have to find and pay for your own attorney. You can contact your local legal aid program to see if they can assist you. The COHHIO Landlord Tenant Housing Information Line at 888-485-7999 or rentinfo@cohhio.org can also be contacted

Can I prevent my landlord from locking me out or shutting off my utilities?

No, if your landlord has followed the proper eviction process. On the other hand, if the proper steps have not been followed and your landlord is changing locks and shutting off utilities, you can file to sue them.


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While looking for apartments, what protections do I have from bad landlords?

Before signing a lease agreement, you have no protections. Below is a checklist of things you may want to pay attention to when you are searching for a home:

  • Doors and windows lock securely
  • Light switches function properly
  • Floors and stairs are solid, with no holes
  • Utilities are in working order - heat, air conditioning, water, gas, water heater
  • Drains don’t back up with water running at full blast
  • No water damage or active leaks, either in plumbing, the ceiling, or basement
  • Laundry and kitchen appliances - your landlord is NOT required to supply these
  • Bed bugs, mice, roaches, or other critters

Do I have the right to document the condition of the apartment I’m renting when I move in?

Yes. Documenting your apartment’s condition at move in will help protect you in the event of a dispute over damages when you move out. You will want to be sure that you take pictures or video of the entire apartment, including floors, walls, ceilings, basement, appliances, cabinets and exterior.

Is it my right to require a written lease from my landlord?

No. Only persons living in government funded housing will usually require a written lease per federal law. Otherwise, there is no requirement for a written lease in Ohio, which means that agreements made orally or verbally are legit. It is highly recommended that all lease agreements be put in writing and that you request a copy of the agreement.

What are my rights if my landlord isn’t following up on the repairs that I have been asking them to make?

Ohio does allow tenants to place rent money in escrow with the courts, however you as the tenant, must be sure to have taken the proper steps to document that you have informed the landlord of the necessary repairs. This requires sending a notice in advance to your landlord of repairs that need to be completed and advising them of your intentions to place the rent money in escrow.

Do I have the right to report concerns about my landlord/property manager/apartment to an outside party?

Yes. You can call the Housing Information Line at 1.888.485.7999 to discuss your issue and get further direction on which agency can best handle your complaint. When reporting a complaint, be sure to include the following information:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the person your complaint is against
  • The address of the housing involved
  • A short description of the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation
Note: Discrimination can also occur after you become a tenant.

I don’t want to live here anymore; what’s my right to getting out of my lease?

It’s usually spelled out in your lease how to go about ending the lease. If a method is not in the lease, then it ends on the date listed in the agreement. If you have a verbal month-to-month agreement, you must give your landlord 30-days notice. For example, a month-to-month lease with rent paid on the 1st of the month can be terminated on August 1st if notice is given by July 1st.

If my landlord isn’t abiding by the lease, then do I have the right to stop paying rent?

No. You must still follow the guidelines as stated in your lease. If at all possible, consider trying to contact your landlord to address the issues and be sure to document all communication.

Do I have the right to stay in my apartment after receiving the 3-day notice?

Yes. However, you may face an eviction if you choose to stay and your landlord is not willing to negotiate the issues that lead up to wanting you to move.

Do I have the right to get my deposit back if someone else did the damage to the apartment?

Even if someone else is responsible for damages, your landlord can still hold you accountable. If the person(s) who did the damage has moved out, you do have the right to sue them to recoup any money that you are out. If the damage is the result of a fault on behalf of another party, you will want to contact your landlord as soon as the damage occurs.

Can I decide how to use the security deposit?

No. As a tenant, deciding how the security deposit will be used is not your right. However, if the landlord agrees you may use the security deposit towards paying the last month’s rent. If they do, be sure to get this agreement in writing.

What can I do if I disagree with the charges in fees deducted from my security deposit?

If you believe that the fees and damages that you are being charged are excessive, you have the right to dispute them. Respond to your landlord, in writing, and specify which fee/damage costs are in dispute. If you were mailed a check and you cash the check, you could hurt your chances of collecting any money that may be due to you in the future.

What are my options if my landlord does not return the security deposit?

If after 30 days, the landlord has not returned the deposit or the itemized listing of fees and damages, or if you disagree with the landlord’s decision to withhold some or all of the deposit money, then you may sue for double the amount that was wrongfully withheld plus reasonable attorney fees. For example, if your landlord wrongfully withholds $500 of your security deposit, you can file a claim in court for $1000 in damages, plus applicable attorney fees. If your claim is for less than $6000, you may file in the Small Claims Court in the town where the property is located.



Common Questions & Answers:

Do I have the right to a bed at an emergency shelter if I am homeless?

No. Unfortunately, shelters do the best they can and with resources being so scarce providers will attempt to shelter you, but if shelter is full, or there’s other challenges in providing you shelter, they can turn you away.

Am I allowed to sleep in a public park (bench, sidewalk, etc.)?

It depends on where you’re sleeping. Many cities and towns have laws against sleeping in parks or blocking sidewalks during certain hours of the day.

Do I have the right to squat or stay in an abandoned house, land or building?

Squatting is when you stay in a building or on a piece of land without permission. Even if you get the utilities turned on, pay the property taxes, cut the grass, make repairs, and have mail sent there, it’s still trespassing, and you can be ticketed and removed immediately.


Escrow - when a tenant deposits rent money on time to the Clerk of Courts instead of the landlord until the landlord shows proof of repairs and applies for release of money

Lease - a contract which gives the right of possession of property from one to another for a length of time and usually for a specific amount of money

Tenant - the one(s) with possession of the property listed in the lease

Security deposit - money given to the landlord by the tenant to ensure that the tenant follows the terms of the lease

Forwarding Address - The address given to the landlord upon vacating the unit. You must provide your landlord with a forwarding address (the next address where you will receive mail) if you want to receive your security deposit. This must be done in writing

Arrears - past due rent

Amenities - “extra” features and services offered by an apartment community, such as on-site laundry, pool, fitness center, free bus passes, etc.

Damages - money paid to someone who has suffered a loss

Default (rent) - failure to pay; fall behind on payments

Notice - an oral or written warning of a legal event

Term - the period of time that the lease is valid

Retaliation - when a landlord tries to evict a tenant because a complaint is made to the landlord or an agency about a tenancy issue


Eviction - A court process for a landlord to remove a tenant from rental property. The eviction process is also called "unlawful detainer" in some states

Landlord - An owner of real property who, through a lease or rental agreement, promises to rent all or a portion of the property to another person (a "tenant") for -- usually for a set period of time and in exchange for an agreed-upon amount of money

Lease -  A written agreement between a landlord and tenant, through which the tenant has the right to use and occupy the landlord's residential property for a specified amount of time in exchange for rent. Also called a "rental agreement"

Quiet Enjoyment -  the right to the enjoyment and use of rental property without obstruction or interruption from other building residents, the landlord, or other persons

Renewal -  at the end of the rental period, completing another rental agreement to continue residing on the property

Rent -  the agreed upon amount of money paid to the landlord by the tenant, according to the lease agreement

Right of entry - A landlord's (very limited) right to enter premises that have been leased to a tenant, usually: in emergency situations, to show the unit to a prospective tenant, or make repairs (in the final two situations proper notice to the tenant is required)

Security deposit - Refundable money paid by a new tenant to the landlord at or before the move-in date, to guarantee the tenant's performance of lease obligations, i.e. no damage to the property beyond wear and tear, and payment of rent. Most states have set limits on the amount of money a landlord may demand for a security deposit. A lease or rental agreement should state the amount of the security deposit, and should also state what the security deposit will be used for, where it will be held, and whether it will earn interest.

Tenant - A person who has been given the right to use and occupy rental property owned by another person, usually through a lease or rental agreement.