Under the implied Covenant of Habitability, landlords are required to keep their rental properties habitable and safe, regardless of how much or how little rent you charge them. This includes the basics, such as a sturdy structure and roof, a non-toxic environment, and proper heating for the space.
Each state has its own set of codes and regulations that govern those specifics. Ohio is no exception. If you are a landlord who is fixing up your rental property in Ohio, there are some particular things you need to know to keep you within the law and keep everyone safe from harm.
The property should be free from toxins
Any property you rent to others should be free from dangerous toxins like lead paint, mold, and asbestos. This means you will need to thoroughly inspect your property for toxic substances. To check for mold, look under past or present leaks, below sinks, behind refrigerators, and in air ducts. Other toxins like lead paint or asbestos can often be checked by taking samples to home improvement stores. And if you do find any issues, it’s best to enlist the help of cleanroom specialists in Franklin, OH.
The property should be properly heated
Ohio code does not require a landlord to provide air conditioning, but it does state that they should provide “reasonable heat at all times.” And while Ohio does not stipulate exactly what “reasonable heat” is, most states require a system that can heat a unit to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when outside temps drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The property should maintain running water
Running water and a reasonable amount of hot water are required by law for all Ohio rental properties. Code does not specify how much hot water is a reasonable amount, but you can usually calculate that by the number of people who usually occupy a unit. For example, a 20-gallon hot water heater may work well for one person, but will probably be much too small for a family of five. Be sure to check the hot water heaters in your rental properties to make sure they are reasonably sized. Also, keep in mind that a lack of running water is considered an emergency repair and should be addressed immediately.
The property should have working fixtures
Any appliances or fixtures provided by the landlord must be kept in proper working order. And while these things are not mandatory, if they are provided, they must be maintained. This includes appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers. But it also includes any available air conditioning, ventilation, elevators, or electrical fixtures.
Applications should be free from discrimination
Finally, don’t discriminate. While discrimination doesn’t fall under property repairs and renovations, it’s arguably one of the most important laws that govern tenant-landlord agreements. Failing to abide by this law, whether intentionally or unintentionally could land you in some pretty severe lawsuits. All landlords have the right to run a tenant credit check and other background checks. Based on these, you have the right to deny an application based on poor credit history, bad references, or otherwise insufficient financial backing. However, that is about where it ends. According to the federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot discriminate against a tenant based on “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.” These categories are protected in all states. And if a tenant or potential tenant feels you have violated this law in any way, they have the right to seek legal action against you.
When you decide to fix up your rental properties, make sure to cover the basics before you ever consider aesthetic improvements. Making the property look nice is only part of what’s necessary to rent it out in Ohio.