Understanding Tenant Rights and Obligations
By Cleveland Attorney, Joseph T. Burke
A landlord and a tenant alike, have rights and obligations when entering into a lease agreement. As long as a tenant is in compliance with a lease agreement, the tenant has the right of possession of the property until the lease expires. A tenant has the right to:
- Peaceful enjoyment the rental property;
- Privacy and security;
- Safe and well-maintained common areas;
- Heat and hot water;
- Repairs done to the rental property in a reasonable amount of time.
Tenants also have the right under Ohio law to collectively bargain under their lease with other tenants, and the law requires that a landlord not retaliate against a tenant for complaining that the landlord is failing to perform its legal duties.
A tenant’s responsibilities under the law include:
- Keeping the premises safe and sanitary, and dispose of garbage;
- Maintaining fixtures and appliances in the home, and promptly tell the landlord when repairs are needed;
- Prohibiting drugs and other illegal substances from the property;
- Allowing the landlord to inspect the property, if the landlord gives reasonable notice;
- Allowing neighbors to peacefully enjoy their property;
- Not intentionally or negligently destroying, defacing, or damaging the premises, including removing fixtures or appliances.
Tenants are also responsible for the actions of their guests while on the property. Any damage a tenant’s guest may cause will be that tenant’s responsibility.
A tenant can expect that his landlord will:
- Comply with health and safety codes;
- Make all repairs necessary to keep the rental property livable and safe;
- Maintain the electric, plumbing, sewer, heat, air conditioning, and appliances and fixtures in good working order;
- In most cases, provide a place for trash disposal;
- Supply running water, hot water, and heat;
- Respect the tenant’s right to privacy by giving reasonable notice before entry;
- Lawfully evict tenants for breach of lease, including waiting until after a court order is issued to change locks or remove a tenant’s property;
If a landlord fails to maintain the property in a safe manner, he may be liable to someone who is injured as a result.
If a landlord fails to make repairs within 30 days of written notice that repairs are necessary, a tenant may have the right to get a court order for repairs to be made, obtain a court-ordered reduction in rent, or terminate the lease. Also, a tenant may have the right to escrow rent, meaning that rental payments are held by the court until necessary repairs are made.
If you believe you are entitled to repairs on your property and your landlord will not make those repairs, call our office and we will help you seek your remedy under the law.