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Make an appointment with UT Student Legal Services for assistance. (Snyder Hall 1020, 419-530-7230)
Rent escrow is a procedure which, when followed properly, allows a tenant to take action against a landlord to correct conditions at a rental property.
Under Ohio law, landlords are required to comply with the requirements of all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes which materially affect health and safety. Moreover, landlords are required to make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
This information is to advise you of some of your rights as a tenant and to help you in pursuing the remedies provided by Ohio law.
If your landlord fails to fulfill his/her legal duties and refuses to make repairs, you, Student Legal Services or any attorney acting on your behalf, can apply to the Toledo Municipal Court for an order to make repairs. The procedure is outlined below:
1. You must be current in your rent; that is, paid up-to-date at the time you apply for rent escrow.
2. You must give the landlord written notice of the condition(s) to be repaired (send the notice to the person or place where the rent is usually paid) and keep a copy for yourself. You may inform your landlord that you will escrow your rent until the conditions are corrected.
3. You must give the landlord a reasonable time to make the repairs (usually thirty  days) unless it is an emergency.
4. If the landlord still fails to make the repairs after the notice, you may deposit your next month’s rent with the Toledo Municipal Court instead of paying it to the landlord.
5. Go to the Clerk of Courts in the basement of the Toledo Municipal Court, 555 N. Erie Street; Toledo, Ohio. There are forms for you to use to apply for rent escrow. You will need to show proof that you are current in rent and that you gave written notice to the landlord to make repairs. You will deposit your full rental amount with the Clerk.
6. Your case will either be referred to the Citizen’s Dispute Settlement Program for mediation or set for a Court hearing. If your case is not settled by mediation or has been sent directly to Court, at your hearing you must show that:
a. You were current in rent before filing your escrow application; and
b. You gave reasonable notice to the landlord before filing (usually thirty  days unless an emergency exists); and
c. You reasonably believe the landlord violated a lease term or a law which materially affects your health and safety, and that the condition remains uncorrected.
7. More Court hearings may be set and you may be ordered to continue depositing your rent until the landlord corrects the conditions, or some other settlement is reached. Another possible remedy is the termination of your lease, allowing you to move without completing a lease term.
The rent escrow procedure does not apply to any landlord who is a party to three (3) or fewer rental agreements AND has given written notice of this fact to you.
It is not necessary to have an attorney for the rent escrow procedure, however, an attorney may be helpful to advise you on the fine points of the law.
This procedure will operate in a similar manner in other Municipal Courts in Ohio.
If the Court finds that you acted intentionally in bad faith in applying for rent escrow, you may be held liable for the landlord’s attorney fees.
The landlord cannot evict you solely because you used the rent escrow process. However, a month-to-month tenancy can be terminated without reason with a one (1) month notice.