Answers


Wonderwoman wonders: "I have an issue where my Landlord keeps Trespassing on the property and entering my home without my consent. I was told by the prosecutors office that this was more of a civil issue than a criminal one. He has used my home like as a bathroom stop when I am not home. About six months ago I was home sleep and woke up to a noise and found him rummaging around in the basement. just recently he scheduled a showing of the property on a day I did not consent to, because he gave me 24 hour notice the prosecutors office said he was fully in his rights. When he attempted to enter I was home working and i warned him that I would call police so I did. When they arrived they let him stay. as soon as the officers left he told me it was his house and he could do what he wanted. he began yelling at me and busted through the back door with his shoulder breaking the chain lock bolt/ I called police back and they still let him stay. The day before this he tried entering the front door while I was sleeping but he stopped because the second front door entrance had a chain on it. I told him that i would be home sleeping and he was mad because he could not get me via phone so he tried to enter. I am looking for another place. In the mean time, how can i protect myself legally. I heard about possibly being able to get injunction relief. I document incidents with police now because he is getting out of hand."
RHINO says: "Sorry to hear your story. These are complex issues that are often misunderstood by landlords and law enforcement. On the other hand, there are some avenues for redress. In the meantime keep your locks on, respond in writing to any requests for entry, and, if possible, have a witness with you whenever landlord makes an entry." Here's an edited response:
1. The Ohio Landlord Tenant Law talks about the landlord right of entry in three different locations. A lot of times people will cite one section without referring to the others. RHINO has tried to paraphrase the duties in the three different sections this way: Landlord has the right to enter the unit after giving a 24 hours notice, except in case of an emergency, and only enter at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner. More here: https://sites.google.com/a/rhinohio.com/home/advocate/abuse-of-entry
2. "Without my consent" Under Ohio LLTL, landlord does not need your consent to enter as long as she/he gives notice and enters at a reasonable time and manner. Implicit in these definitions is the fact that if a proposed entry is at an unreasonable time or manner, you may respond to the notice by suggesting a more reasonable option.
3. Civil vs. criminal. The prosecutor is correct. This is a civil matter. Your recourse for repeated abuse of the right of access is to seek injunctive relief. ORC 5321.04 (B) Because this section of the law includes "attorney fees" if a claim is successful, you may be able to find a private attorney to take the case "on spec," that is, bringing an claim for which the attorney will be paid if/when the claim is successful.
4. Some other options
a. If you are in Cleveland, you may ask the Cleveland Housing Court for assistance in resolving this problem. Cleveland Housing Court has a staff of Housing Court Specialists that have broad non-judicial powers to work out problems like this. http://www.clevelandhousingcourt.org/
b. You mentioned a "showing" of the property. You may want to file a complaint with the Real Estate Licensing Bureau against the broker who attempted an entry without notice  More here.
c. You may want to file a complaint with the police department for the incident when the police told you to permit him to stay.
d. You may want to talk to your local FH agency about a possible discrimination claim. The Federal and State Fair housing acts treat women heads of households as a 'protected class." You will need to be able to show that the landlord's behavior constitutes sexual harassment and/or difference in treatment based on your gender. Fair Housing agencies usually have staff people who can review your documentation and talk with you about possible claims.

NicoleR asks: my landlord rented me a property that has a horrible infestation of bed bugs. i am so allergic when i swell it causes nerve pain. he claims i brought them in and i have proof that i did not. he should never have rented me an unsafe home. 
Hi, Nicole, sorry to hear about your problems.
1. Some health departments will write orders to correct the problem. Depends on what city/county you live in.  Calling the housing department could help or hurt. Depends on what city/county you live in. Some municipalities ASSUME that an infestation that occurs after occupancy is a tenant's responsibility.
2. If you have not done so already, put your complaint IN WRITING to the landlord and keep a copy. You cannot take any kind of legal action without a written notice to the landlord. Ohio Revised Code 5321.07 
3. LL has no legal duty to report on known problems like the presence of bed bugs. (exception is known lead hazards), but  If you can prove that landlord knew, then you may have a civil damages action--consult a personal injury lawyer. PI lawyers are often willing to take a well documented case on contingency, meaning that they would get paid if they win for you. Many offer free consultation to evaluate your case. Call Local Bar Association of a list of Personal Injury lawyers.  At the very least, a PI attorney can help you figure out how to document the problem with witnesses and public records. 
4. Get a medical statement that links bed bug infestation to your allergic reactions. This could be helpful in bringing a personal injury claim (#3) or requesting a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act.  A fair housing agency in your area may be able to help you prepare an RA and/or file a FH complaint.

Mo1955 asks: "If a person brings bed bugs into a previous bed bug free apartment, where no bed bugs have ever existed before, and new carpet and new paint was applied in that unit, can the tenant be held liable for expenses of having to exterminate that apartment and two other connected units?" Yes. Under Ohio Landlord Tenant Law tenant has the duty to "Keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses safe and sanitary" (ORC 5321.05) In many localities around Ohio the local housing code makes a "presumption" that a bug-free unit that becomes infested was caused by the tenant. In many localities around Ohio the local housing code makes a "presumption" that a bug-free unit that becomes infested was caused by the tenant." Landlord may make a deduction from the tenant's security deposit at the end of the tenancy or make a claim in small claims court or file an eviction and ask for to be reimbursed for damages as a "second cause of action." In any of these cases, tenant has the right to offer evidence that she/he did not cause the problem as defense against the charges. 

MalissaJC: You wrote "Besides mold issues, I have found a clause in our lease that states an Ohio Law that does not exist. What can landlord be charged with and does it make the lease null in void from day 1?"
1. Ohio Landlord Tenant Law says that landlord cannot make a rental agreement that modifies the duties in the Ohio Landlord Tenant Law.
http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.13v1 see section A and Section D.
2. Because landlord-tenant law is a civil, not a criminal, law there's no "charge" that can be brought against the landlord, but you may bring civil claims for damages caused by his failure to follow the law. Check with your attorney about how to bring a claim.
3.  When you ask "does it make the lease null and void..," I'm guessing that you would like to terminate without a penalty or stop paying rent. 
  • Best suggestion is to get your attorney's advice. This clause supports any claim for damages that you might bring under 5321.13.
  • Second best suggestion is to consider the termination provisions in 5321.07 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.07  This section of the law permits termination by a tenant if landlord fails in a duty under 5321.04 (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/5321.04 duties of a landlord) after the tenant has given a written notice of the condition that needs to be corrected. 
  • Failing to pay the rent would likely cause landlord to commence a legal action. Raising these issues while you are on the defensive could be harder than making an affirmative claim.
September 13, 2016. Mr. kJohnson writes: "how long can a guest stay in my apartment in Ohio before they are told they need to be put on the lease? I was told no one can stay for more than two weeks in a calendar year." RHINO responds. There is no Ohio law governing how long a guest may stay with you. That is a subject determined in the rental agreement or, in the case of HUD assisted housing, in the House Rules.  
Can tenants at my property vote (or petition) NOT to have a tenants organization?  (from MichaelS)
ANSWER:  In HUD assisted housing, probably not!  Your right to participate in a tenants organization is protected in your lease and in HUD regulations.  Other tenants can't modify your rights.  Of course your tenants organization should continue to be 'inclusive' even if most of the tenants don't want to participate. PS:  If some of your neighbors are trying to prevent you from organizing, you must be doing something right. See below

When HUD does inspections, do managers get to pick what units are inspected? (from WesW)
ANSWER:  Maybe. HUD has two kinds of 'inspections'-
  • REAC (Real Estate Assessment Center) is focused on physical conditions of the property.  HUD says that the have a computer program that selects the units when the inspector arrives on site.  No one knows (not even the inspector) what units will be inspected.  REAC looks at 20% of the units in the property.
  • MOR (Management Operations Review) inspections are focused on tenant files, but MOR inspectors will look at some units (vacants and a few occupied.  Guidelines for MOR reviews have just changed (july 2011) and we'll need to get up to speed.)  How these units are chosen is a mystery.
Many tenants who are not members of the tenants organization oppose what the group voted to do.  What gives them the right to complain about us?
Answer:  It is not a question of "what gives them the right"; it is a question of what's practical.  Consensus in not a requirement of any rule...but a practical fact of life.  if you can't agree among yourselves, then you end up fighting with each other...instead of for each other.


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