Your legal rights

What are my legal rights?

Here’s some important information, you and your family should be aware of before you look for a place to live.

The Fair Housing Act

  • Prohibits discrimination in housing-related transactions because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status.
      • Applies to rental, purchasing, lender, and insurance activities.

Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law

Tenant Best Practices:

  • Inspect home for needed repairs.
  • Wait to sign lease until repaired if possible.
  • If not, request landlord sign list of repairs committing to a date by which each repair is made.
  • Always keep and date a copy of any papers you give to landlord in a file.
  • Take photos and/or video of the condition of the floors, walls, ceilings, appliances, etc to compare it with the condition when you move out to assist with having deposit returned.
  • Read the lease because it is a legal binding contract.
  • Each roommate should have their own lease.

Landlord Responsibilities:

  • Make all repairs needed to make the house or apartment livable. This includes reasonable accommodations and modifications.
      • Reasonable accommodations are a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling such as allowing service animals, having reserved accessible parking space, etc. These can be denied if they cause undue financial or administrative burden on housing provider or fundamentally alter the provider’s operations.
      • Reasonable modifications are structural changes to existing premises occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, so he/she can fully use and enjoy the premises such as grab bars, ramps, lowering counter spaces, strobe installation, etc. The resident is responsible for the cost of the modification unless the housing provider receives a federal housing subsidy and housing provider may require modifications be removed and interior be restored when the tenant moves out.
  • Keep electrical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation systems in good working order.
  • Supply enough hot water and heat.
  • Keep hallways and stairways safe and clean.
  • Provide garbage cans or dumpster (if 4+ units in the same building).
  • Give tenant 24 hours notice before entering the home at a reasonable time in a reasonable manner, except in case of emergency.
  • Ensure the home complies with all building, housing, and health codes which significantly affect health and safety.
  • Evict tenants when a landlord knows a tenant allows illegal drug activity to occur at the premises.

Landlords are NOT permitted to:

  • Increase rent, decrease services, evict or threaten to evict you, have home inspected by a local government housing inspector because you complained about needed repairs or participated in a tenants’ group/union.
  • Shut off utilities, change locks, or threaten any of these acts in order to make you move out of a home.
  • Harass you by demanding repeatedly to enter a home or entering at unreasonable times of the day or without a proper purpose.
  • Put you out or remove any of your property from the home without a court order signed by a judge.
  • Keep your belongings to try to force you to pay rent.


  • Southeastern Ohio Legal Services: Provides legal assistance for people who cannot afford an attorney through representation, easy-to-understand information about your legal rights, and/or easy-to-complete legal forms. Their website is:  Newark Office – (888) 831-9412 or (740) 345-0850