Rent / Escrow
HOW TO GET YOUR LANDLORD TO MAKE REPAIRS
If you want your landlord to fix something, you must follow the rules set out in the law. If you do not follow these rules carefully, you could be evicted for nonpayment of rent.
Residential landlords have a duty to fix:
1. Any problems with the housing that "materially affect" your health and safety and violate local building, housing, or health and safety codes. (Such as: broken windows, roof leaks, peeling paint and plaster, mice, rats, roaches, rubbish in yard, lack of smoke detector)
2. Any problems with the housing that make it unlivable.
3. Any defects in the hallway or stairway that could pose a danger to you or your guests. (Such as: bad lighting in hallway or loose stairway
4. Any electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, or air conditioning systems that are not working properly and pose a danger to you or your guests. (Such as: unsafe gas or electric heaters and appliances)
5. Plumbing or heating systems that are not working properly, leaving you without running water, hot water, or adequate heat - for any period of time.
6. Broken and unusable garbage cans. (that are shared by four or more apartments in the same building)
If you ask your landlord to fix any problems or defects and he does not fix them, do the following things:
First . . . .
Give a written notice or letter to the landlord. The notice should:
1. Tell in detail each problem you want fixed (the list should be specific, so that the landlord can use the list to fix each problem).
2. Tell the landlord that he or she should fix minor problems within 30 days and major problems (emergencies such as lack of heat in winter) within 5 days.
3. Tell the landlord what you will do if he or she does not fix the problems within 30 days, either:
end your lease and move within 30 days from the date of the notice, or
deposit your rent with the court AND
(a) ask the court to order your landlord to make the repairs and lower the rent that you owe because you are living with the inconvenience of this defect/problem
(b) ask the court to order your landlord to give you part of the rent money deposited with the court so that you can make repairs yourself.
4. Sign, date, and make a photocopy of the notice (you may need to give a copy of the notice to the court at a later date).
5. Deliver the notice to your landlord in person or by certified mail to the place where rent is normally paid. If you deliver the notice in person, bring a friend with your to witness the delivery. If you deliver the notice by certified mail, save the receipts.
Second . . . .
In addition to writing a notice, if you think the defect or problem violates your local building, housing, or health and safety code, call the Housing Inspector or the Health Department for your town, city or county. Ask that they inspect your apartment, write a report, and give you a copy of that report.
Third . . . .
Wait until 30 days after you have delivered or mailed the notice, if your landlord still has not made any repairs, you can go to the court for help.
For most defects, you must wait until this 30-day period has ended before you can go to court.
If the problem is serious (lack of heat or hot water in the winter or no running water or electricity), you only have to wait a reasonable time (5 days) before you can go to court.
Any rent that comes due within 30 days after delivery of the notice must be paid to your landlord! If not, you will lose your claim in court and could be evicted for failure to pay rent.
Fourth . . . .
After 30 days have ended and on or sometime before the day that your next rent payment is due, go to the city courthouse with the full amount of next month's rent, a copy of the notice given to your landlord, and a copy of any certified mail receipts. Find the clerk of courts window or desk and tell the person at the desk that you want to
"place your rent into escrow with the
* In some courts, the clerk will give you an "Application by Tenant to Deposit Rent with the
Clerk". In the application, you must show that you sent a notice to your landlord and are current in your rent. A sample copy of a completed application is contained in this packet.
1. Fill in the application and give it to the person behind the desk, with your rent money. Courts in Ohio do different things at this point.
Some courts will take your money with the application and put it into a special account set aside for rent escrow.
Some will not allow you to deposit money until the judge has approved your application. Call the court each morning and ask if your application has bee approved. When it is approved, bring your rent money to the court and they will put it into a special account set aside for rent escrow.
2. Be sure to get a receipt for the deposit and a copy of the completed application.
In other courts, the clerk will simply take your money and a copy of the notice and certified mail receipts. Once again, be sure to get a receipt.
What Happens After Rent is Deposited With the Court?
Ask the clerk of court what will happen next and what you need to do to get a hearing before the court.
1. In some courts, a copy of the application will be sent to your landlord and the clerk will automatically set a date for a hearing. (Depending upon your court, this hearing could be in court or set for mediations). The court will send you a paper letting you know the date of your hearing. If you do not hear from the court within 10 days, call to see what has happened or go to step 2.
2. If a hearing is not automatically set, you should file a "Motion for Rent Abatement and Order to Repair" at the same time that you deposit rent with the court. You can use the fill-in-the-blank motion, or prepare your own In the motion, you can ask for the following things by checking the proper boxes:
A court order requiring your landlord to make the requested repairs.
A court order allowing you to pay less in rent until repairs are made.
A court order allowing you to use the rent deposited to make the repairs yourself.
What to do when your next rent payment comes due?
Pay it to the Clerk of Court! This is very important. Remember, every time your rent is due, you must pay it to the Clerk of Courts and get a receipt showing that you paid. Save the receipts. If you do not pay your rent to the court on the date it is due, you risk losing your case.
What to do when your landlord fixes everything you complained about?
Stop paying your rent to the Court and begin paying it to your landlord.
Voluntary process where landlord and tenant meet in the presence of a third person ("mediator") to see if they can come to some agreement. You do not have to participate in mediation, but you should consider going. If your landlord does not show up for mediation, you can reschedule or ask for a court hearing. If your landlord does show up and you both reach an agreement, it will become final and the case will come to an end. If you do not reach an agreement, the case will be set for a hearing before the judge.
What to bring with you:
1. A copy of the notice sent to your landlord and any certified mail receipts.
2. Any witnesses who came with you when you delivered the notice or have seen the defects or problems that need repair,
3. A copy of the receipts showing that you deposited money with the court,
4. Any photographs or documentation that you made of the defects or problems that need to be fixed, and
5. Any reports from building or health department inspectors.
What happens: At the hearing, each side is given a chance to tell their side of the story to the judge. Then the judge will make a decision - either giving the rent to your landlord or ordering your landlord to make repairs and/or that your rent be lowered until such repairs are made. When the judge asks you to proceed, tell him or her the following:
1. Your name and that you are a renter;
2. The address of the place that you rent and how long you have rented there;
3. The name of your landlord;
4. The problems or defects that you are complaining about (show photos if you have them) and how these problems threaten your health or safety and have caused you inconvenience;
5. That you told your landlord in writing what these problems are and the date on which you delivered such notice (if you had a witness to the delivery ask the witness to state their name and tell that they went with you to make the delivery);
6. That thirty days have passed since you delivered that notice and your landlord has yet to fix these problems,
7. That you are current in your rent;
8. That you have deposited rent with the court and for how many months you have done this;
9. That you are asking the court to order any or all of the following: your landlord to make repairs, rent abatement (reduction of your rent by a certain amount until the landlord makes the necessary repairs), or use of rent money to make repairs yourself.