Community Services Director:
Barbara Dulworth, AICP
There are many illegal housing discriminatory practices, but you have the right to: seek housing anywhere you can afford to live; inspect any apartment or house which is offered for rent or sale; and be offered the same information, financial and insurance terms and courtesy as everyone else.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces the Fair Housing Act, which protects you against violations of your housing rights. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
• Race • Color • National Origin • Sex • Religion • Handicap
• Familial Status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing with very few exceptions. It prohibits discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, mortgage lending and insurance coverage.
No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status or handicap:
• Refuse to rent, sell or negotiate for housing, or otherwise make housing unavailable.
• Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling.
• Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service, such as a multiple listing service, related to the sale or rental of housing.
• Impose different terms or conditions on a loan.
• Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for a person with a disability to use the housing. Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.
• Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services necessary for a person with a disability to use the housing.
If you think your rights have been violated, contact the fair housing office. You may also call the HUD Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777 (voice) or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY) or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission in Dayton at 1-937-285-6500.
Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
The Ohio Tenant-Landlord Act of 1974 outlines the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. It does not apply to mobile home trailer parks, owner-occupied condominiums, prisons, jails, workhouses or halfway houses, hotels, motels or tourist homes, hospitals, or nursing homes, farm residences on two or more acres of land, or school dormitories.
This information is designed to help you better understand your responsibilities and rights under the law. We hope that you will read it carefully and use it as a guide for better Tenant-Landlord relations.
- Pay their rent in full when due.
- Keep the property safe, sanitary and clean.
- Keep all plumbing fixtures clean and free flowing.
- Not damage the property nor allow guests to do so.
- Keep appliances in good working order
- Allow the landlord to inspect or show the property with proper 24 hour notice. In case of emergency, immediate access is permitted.
- Permit the landlord or maintenance personnel to make repairs at reasonable times as needed.
- Comply with all local housing, health and safety codes.
Tenant’s Rights and Remedies
If your landlord does not comply with his / her obligations, you have a right to escrow your rent with the court. You, as the tenant, do not have the right to stop paying rent. To do so voids your protection under the law. In order to escrow rent, a tenant must:
- Pay rent up to date.
- Request in writing the repairs needed.
- If the landlord fails to make the repairs within 30 days or within a reasonable time in case of an emergency, the tenant can:
Escrow rent by depositing it with the clerk of the appropriate municipal or county court.
-- Ask the court to direct that the repairs be made, reduce the rent, or release some of the money for making repairs.
-- Terminate the lease and move out. In this case, the security deposit should be returned in full.
Assure that the property complies with all building, housing and health codes which significantly affect health and safety. Make all necessary repairs to make the property livable. This includes keeping all electrical, plumbing, and heating and ventilation systems in good working order.
-Supply adequate hot and cold running water and heat at all times.
-Keep all common areas in the building or on the grounds safe and sanitary.
-Give at least 24 hour notice before entering your apartment or house except in case of emergency
- Shut off utilities or other services, change the locks, remove doors or windows or threaten to do any of these unlawful acts in an attempt to evict tenants.
- Prevent you from exercising your rights as a tenant by increasing your rent, decreasing your services, bringing or threatening to bring an eviction because you have complained to him / her or the city about a code violation.
- Repeatedly demand to enter your apartment or house, even if proper notice has been given.
- Refuse to rent to tenants because of their race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex or handicap.
If a landlord does any of the above, he / she can be sued for damages and forced by court order to restore utility services, remove padlocks, return tenants’ property or rent to the person discriminated against. Punitive damages can also be assessed against landlords who deliberately or maliciously violate the law.
Landlord’s Rights and Remedies
A landlord can evict a tenant when:
-Tenant fail to pay rent when due.
-Tenant violates important terms of the lease.
-The lease agreement has expired.
-Tenant fails to comply with proper notice to correct health and safety violations.
-Tenant refuses to allow landlord reasonable access to the unit.
-Tenant files a complaint against the landlord to governmental agency about housing violations which were actually caused by the tenant and/or guests.
-Landlord’s compliance with housing laws would require alteration or demolition of the building which would deprive the tenant of effective use of the premises.
The Eviction Process:
1. A landlord wanting to evict a tenant must notify the tenant to leave the premises three days or more before beginning any court action. The landlord must hand a written copy of the notice to the tenant, sent it by registered mail, or leave it at the tenant’s residence. The notice must contain the following words:
“YOU ARE BEING ASKED TO LEAVE THE PREMISES. IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE, AN EVICTION ACTION MAY BE INITIATED AGAINST YOU. IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT REGARDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS AS A TENANT, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU SEEK LEGAL ASSISTANCE.”
2. If the tenant does not vacate the premises then the landlord must file a complaint at Municipal Court called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer Notice” claiming that the lease is expired or that the tenant has violated the law or the lease agreement.
3. The tenant receives a court summons at least five (5) days prior to the hearing.
4. The Court hearing is held and a judge decides the case.
Before signing the lease and paying any non-refundable deposit, the tenant and landlord should inspect the property together. A detailed record of the condition of the property, including the yard if renting a house, should be made. This not only protects the tenant from being charged for damages he / she did not incur, but provides the landlord with a list of defects needing correction. If the landlord does not provide you with a detailed inspection checklist, you may download a checklist or obtain one from the City of Sidney Fair Housing Coordinator. Although a tenant is not responsible for normal wear and tear, damages caused by a tenant, or guest of a tenant may be the responsibility of the tenant. A list of some common damages versus normal wear and tear is available. Please note this is not an exhaustive list and should be used for general guidance only.
The Rental Agreement
A LEASE is a rental agreement or contract and can be written, oral or implied. It is recommended that a signed lease be negotiated in order to better define your and your landlord’s rights and duties under the law. Without a signed lease, rent can be increased or the agreement terminated with only a seven day notice if you rent by the week or thirty days notice if you rent by the month.
Before the tenant moves, he / she must leave a forwarding address in writing with the landlord, or many legal remedies will not apply. At the end of the lease, the landlord must do one of the following within 30 days after the lease agreement ends and the tenant has turned over the apartment and the keys:
1. Return the full security deposit.
2. Return the balance of the security deposit with a list of all deductions, including any past due rent owed, list of damages that the tenant or their guest may have caused, etc. This list must be in writing and sent to the former tenant.
If the landlord fails to do either of the above, the tenant may receive (through court) double the amount wrongfully withheld (that amount the landlord should have returned, less any deductions), and reasonable attorney fees.
None of the information this website constitutes legal advice and the City of Sidney accepts no legal liability for reliance on this information. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights, we recommend you seek legal assistance.