The relationship between landlord and tenant is ideally friendly. Usually, the tenant makes a verbal request that repairs be made and the landlord responds quickly. However, sometimes problems can occur in this process. The following information is for the use of those tenants who have decided that rent escrowing is the only way their landlord will make the necessary repairs. The following are the necessary steps you need to take to escrow your rent.
Step 1: Define Your Problem
Your landlord has many obligations under the law and your lease. Problems which you have the right to demand be solved by your landlord are of several types. Your landlord is required to maintain the property in a fit, habitable, safe and sanitary condition. Your landlord must maintain the property, as required by applicable building, housing, health and safety codes. Your landlord must adhere to all requirements of your lease. Some Examples of Problems:
* Insufficient heat
* Plumbing Problems
* Garbage/rubbish collection facilities
* Dangerous Stairways or Steps
* Furnished appliances that do not work
Step 2: Notice to Remedy Conditions
You must give your Landlord a written "Notice to Remedy Conditions." The written notice must be delivered to your landlord at least 30 days before you put any rent into and escrow. If you pay your rent in person, you may hand deliver the original "Notice to Remedy Conditions" when you pay your rent to your landlord. It would be wise to have a witness there when you do this. If you pay your rent by mail, send it Certified Mail-- Return Receipt Requested. Several days after mailing the Notice you will receive the receipt in the mail. Do not lose it! It is your proof that you sent the Notice and your Landlord received it. The "Notice to Remedy Conditions" informs your landlord of what things need to be done. It must be clear and specific. It must have enough detail so that the landlord and the court will be able to understand exactly when you are complaining about.
Step 3: Request and Inspection- Gather and Document Your Evidence
Photograph or videotape any of the problems that you have given "Notice" on. Try to keep a record of the date you took this picture or video. Problems that do not photograph or videotape well, such as inefficient heat, electrical outlets that do not work, or no water pressure, are proven with witnesses. Have a friend, eighteen or older witness the problem. Both types of problems should be reported to an appropriate government agency. If you request an inspection by Lucas County Health Department- (419) 213-4100 or the City of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods at (419) 245-1400, you will be able to obtain a report from them which will be valuable to prove existence of the problem you notified your landlord about.
Step 4: Depositing Your Rent In Escrow
After thirty days from the date you gave "Notice" to your landlord, you may deposit your rent with the Clerk of Court. Do not deposit your rent if everything you gave Notice about has been fixed, but if anything that you gave Notice about is still not fixed, you have the right to pay your rent to the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court will give you a form to fill out: "Application by Tenant to Deposit rent with the Clerk of Court". After you have filled out that application, the Clerk will accept your rent payment and give you a receipt. The clerk does accept personal checks. After that, every time your rent is due, you should pay it to the Clerk of Court. You will not have to fill out the application after the first time. Each time you pay the Clerk of Court, you will receive a receipt. Save the receipts. If your landlord fixes everything you gave Notice about, you may resume paying your rent in the normal manner. You may also instruct the Clerk of Court to pay all the rent you deposited with the Clerk to your landlord. The Clerk's address is: Clerk of Court, Toledo Municipal Court, 555 N. Erie Street, Toledo, Ohio 43604
Step 5: Going to Court
Your landlord may ask the court to release your rent from escrow. Your landlord will be required to prove to the Court that the money should be released; all you have to show the Court is that the repairs have not been made. There are a limited number of reasons that the court will accept as sufficient to justify giving your deposited rent money to your landlord. They are:
* The problem(s) complained about have been fixed
* The tenant did not give the Notice required
* The tenant was not current in rent payments when the rent was deposited with the Clerk of Courts
* The problem complained about was not a violation of the Ohio-Tenant-Landlord Law, and was not a requirement of the lease
* The problem was a result of an act of the tenant
* The tenant acted in bad faith
In court, you will be given an opportunity to tell your version of why you decided to escrow your rent. You can win, it's not hard. You may call or subpoena witnesses. You may ask questions of anyone who testifies for your landlord to help make the situation clear to the judge. You may represent your self, however it may be wise to seek help from an Attorney. If you have an attorney, you are all set. If you do not have an attorney, you can call us at (419) 530-7230.