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How to File a Complaint Against an Ohio Landlord

Dirck Kloosterman - Ohio Landlord Complaints - December 7, 2023

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    Rented a home in Ohio, but are having problems with your landlord? In this article, we go over different ways you can file a complaint against your landlord, including (1) sending a formal letter to your landlord, (2) filing a government complaint with either a federal or Ohio government agency that regulates landlords, (3) filing a BBB complaint, and (4) suing in small claims court.

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Common Types of Complaints and Lawsuits Against Landlords

    Here are some common complaints people have against landlords: 

    • Your landlord refuses to return your security deposit after you move out. 

    • The terms under your lease have been breached. For example, your landlord increases the rent before the lease term was over, breaching the terms of the lease agreement.

    • Your landlord has breached Ohio’s implied warranty of habitability. Warranty of habitability means that regardless of any contradicting lease term, your landlord is required to keep your unit in a habitable condition at all times. 

    • You are being harassed by the landlord. 

    • You experienced discrimination based on your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, familial status, etc. For example, you were denied renting an apartment due to your gender.

    • Your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs to the rental unit as per the lease terms. 

    • Your landlord refuses to do anything about excessive noise or other issues you are having with your neighbors.

    If the unit you rented is outside of Ohio, review our guides for other states.  

    Contact Your Landlord and Report a Complaint Directly

    The first step should always be to try to resolve your complaint with your landlord directly. 

    Start by informally communicating with your landlord: 

    If you've never had issues with your rental before but now have complaints about common spaces, security deposit disputes, or other issues, start by sharing your concerns through email or phone

    Formally communicate with your landlord: 

    If they ignore your informal requests, consider writing a formal letter, like a demand letter or complaint letter, as this way, you can outline your requests in the letter, and notify your landlord that you will seek further action if the issue is not resolved.  

    Here are some other reasons why you should consider sending a formal letter to your landlord:

    1. Proof that you tried to resolve the problem out of court. If you end up filing a small claims action against your landlord, the judge in your case may ask you at your small claims hearing if you sent your landlord a demand letter before suing. By sending a written demand letter, there is a record of your attempt to settle that you can demonstrate to the judge.

    2. You may resolve the problem without going to court. A demand letter signals to your landlord that you are serious about the problem and willing to take action to resolve the problem. They know that it is cheaper to resolve the problem out of court so they may agree to resolve the problem. 

    3. Many city or government agencies would like to see that you tried to resolve the problem on your own before filing a complaint. You can provide your formal letter as proof of your efforts. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord? Check out our complaint letter tool.

    Here is a video on how our complaint letter tool works:

    File a Complaint With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) handles complaints against landlords who receive assistance from the federal government. 

    HUD is a United States federal agency (HUD is also described as a cabinet department). HUD is responsible for addressing America's housing needs, enforcing fair housing laws, and more. For example, HUD runs the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, which enables tenants of HUD-insured and -assisted properties to report complaints such as poor maintenance, dangers to health and safety, mismanagement, and fraud.

    Below are instructions for how to report a bad landlord to HUD:

    • To report a bad landlord to the Multifamily Housing Complaint Line, call toll-free at (800) MULTI-70 (800) 685-8470) / TTY (800) 432-2209.

    • Complaints of housing discrimination are handled by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (an office under HUD) at 1-800-669-9777.

    File a Complaint With the Appropriate State or City Agency

    You can also file a complaint against a landlord with a local government department in the city or county where the property is located. Below we have provided information on how to report a landlord or apartment complex to a local housing authority, state or city agency, or various rental commissions in Ohio. 

    File a Complaint With the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC)

    The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC)  processes housing discrimination complaints within one year from the date of harm. You can file your landlord complaint online by submitting this form. You can mail your complaint after filling out this form, or consider filing in-person by going to your local OCRC office. 

    File a Complaint With the Ohio Department of Commerce (ODC): 

    The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing processes complaints related to landlord-tenant disputes. You can file your complaint with the division online by following these instructions or by phone at 614-466-4100

    Additional Tenant Services to Consider

    • United Way 2-1-1 Help Center: The United Way 2-1-1 Help Center offers 24-hour assistance for Ohio tenants seeking housing assistance. They will review your options and work with you to develop a plan to resolve your dispute. 

    • Cleveland Housing Court: The Cleveland Housing Court deals with landlord-tenant issues like evictions, repairs, and rent payments. Housing Court Specialists can be reached at 216-664-4295 to provide help and information related to housing concerns in Cleveland. 

    File a Complaint With the Better Business Bureau 

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit that serves as an intermediary between landlords and consumers. You will not find an individual landlord on the BBB. The larger the landlord you rented from, the more likely they are to be found on the BBB

    Reasons why a large landlord would respond to a BBB complaint: 

    • If the landlord is accredited with the BBB and doesn't respond to a BBB complaint, its accreditation may be revoked, and the complaint becomes part of its BBB profile.

    • Landlords know that a BBB rating can be an important determining factor when a prospective renter is making a decision to rent with that landlord.

    Learn how to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

    Consider Suing in Small Claims Court

    Have you filed a complaint with one of the above organizations or state/city agencies and still have not been able to resolve your landlord/tenant issue? It may be time to consider suing your landlord in an Ohio Small Claims Court. Small claims courts handle a variety of issues related to landlord/tenant disputes.

    Don't forget about our free tool powered by AI that helps you create a complaint letter to a landlord. Check out our complaint letter tool.


    Dirck Kloosterman

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Passionate about breaking down court processes in simple, easy-to-understand ways.

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