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The duties a landlord owes to a tenant in Ohio

The legal relationship between a landlord and a tenant in Ohio can be very complex. It is controlled by the lease, if the parties have executed one, by state statutes, occasionally by federal law and by the common law on issues where none of the other factors has any legal effect.

In analyzing the legal rules that prevail in any landlord tenant relationship, the first place to look is the lease. A lease is any agreement that is written or oral and constitutes a legally enforceable contract for the rental of a given piece of real property. The lease will describe the premises that are being rented, the term of the lease, and the parties' duties toward each other. Even if the parties have not executed a valid written lease, the common law and certain statutes in Ohio define certain obligations owed by the landlord to the tenant.

The landlord's principal obligation is to provide safe and secure premises to the tenant. This obligation includes safe means of egress and exit. Stairs must be solidly build and in good repair. An elevator must likewise be in sound operating condition. The premises must be safe from fire and, if required by the applicable building code, afford an operating fire suppression system (usually sprinklers). The landlord must make any repairs to the structure within 30 days of being notified by the tenant. The landlord is also obligated to provide adequate heat in the winter and sufficient hot and cold water for cooking and cleaning. Most important, if a tenant or a tenant's guest is injured due to the landlord's breach of one or more duties to provide safe premises, the injured party can recover damages from the landlord for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and in certain cases, attorneys' fees.

The landlord's obligations include many other duties that cannot be enumerated in this brief blog. Anyone with questions about a specific situation may wish to consult an attorney who is experienced in landlord tenant issues.

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