How to Withhold Rent
In certain circumstances, tenants are able to withhold rent. The process is called rent depositing. Tenants can pay rental deposits to the court, which are held in escrow (in trust) on behalf of the tenant.
A tenant has the right to withhold rent when:
- The landlord fails to fulfill any obligation imposed upon him by §5321.04 of the Ohio Revised Code, (except for division (A)(9) of that section)
- Any obligation described in the rental agreement is not met by the landlord
- If the conditions of the residential premises are such that the tenant reasonably believes that a landlord has failed to fulfill their obligations
- If a governmental agency has found that the premises are not in compliance with building, housing, health, or safety codes that could materially affect the health and safety of an occupant
Tenants may NOT withhold rent when:
- They are behind in rental payments (this could result in being evicted and the rental deposits being paid to the landlord)
- They received written notice when moving in that the landlord owns three or fewer dwelling units. Landlords who are renting three or fewer units and who provide notice of that fact to the tenant in writing are not subject to rent withholding.
If the Court finds that the condition contained in the notice was the tenant’s fault or the tenant intentionally acted in bad faith in depositing rent with the Clerk, the tenant shall be responsible for damages caused to the landlord and court costs, together with reasonable lawyer’s fees.
At any time after rent is deposited, the landlord and tenant can agree, without a hearing, that their dispute is resolved and the deposited rent may be paid out to the landlord. They need to both sign a joint notice and file it with the Clerk of Court.