Landlord-Tenant Issues : Escrow

What can I do if my landlord won't fix a problem with my rented apartment (or home)?

If there is a problem with your rental unit that your landlord knows of and has not fixed, you may be able to deposit your rent with the Clerk of Courts instead of paying the landlord directly. This process is called rent escrow. If you escrow rent, the landlord will have to fix the problem before s/he can get the money released from the court. You have the right to escrow your rent payment if:

  • Your landlord fails to fulfill any obligation imposed by the Ohio Landlord/Tenant Law (Ohio Revised Code §5321.04).

  • Your landlord fails to fulfill any obligation imposed by your rental agreement.

  • A governmental agency has found that the premises are not in compliance with building, housing, health, or safety codes and the conditions could materially affect your health or safety.

You must follow a set procedure before you are allowed to escrow rent payments with the Clerk of Courts.

Do I have to give written notice to my landlord that I intend to place my rent in escrow?

Yes. Before you can lawfully place rent into escrow, you must provide the landlord with a written "notice to repair" letter of the problems. The letter must be clear, specific, and detailed enough that the landlord and court will be able to understand exactly what needs to be fixed. Be sure to date your letter. After sending this letter to your landlord, you must give the landlord a chance to correct the problem before you take further action.

You should send the letter by certified mail and request a return receipt as proof that the letter was delivered to the landlord or the landlord’s representative. You should also keep a copy of the letter and the receipt for your records. 

Do I have to give my landlord a reasonable time to make repairs?

Yes. After the landlord has received the “notice to repair” letter, you must give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. A reasonable time may be up to, but not more than, thirty days. A shorter time period is appropriate for more serious problems, such as lack of heat in the winter.

Can I stop paying my rent?

No! You are required to pay rent on time regardless of what the landlord does or fails to do. You must be current in all rent payments owed to the landlord to be eligible to deposit rent payments with the Clerk of Courts. DO NOT STOP PAYING RENT. If you stop paying rent at any time, you leave yourself open to an eviction action.

What should I do with my rent if the repairs are not made?

If you have given the landlord written notice of the problems, you are current in your rent payments, and the landlord still has not made the repairs after thirty days, you have several options.

  • You may begin escrowing rent.

  • You may ask the court to order the landlord to make repairs; reduce all rent due until the problems are fixed; and/or release the escrowed money to you so that you can make the repairs.

  • If the problems are significant enough, you may be able to terminate the lease agreement.

See also the Forms & Education tab

in this section for more information.

 

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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