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Fair Housing

Equal Housing Opportunity

It’s the Law!

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
Title VIII (Fair Housing Act of 1988) and
Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code prohibit discrimination in housing:

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race or Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
  • Handicap (mental or physical)
  • AncestryWhat is prohibited?
  • Military Status

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or ancestry:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection sale or rental
  • Persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right based on national origin, religion, sex familial status, handicap or ancestry.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or ancestry.

What are some examples of illegal housing discrimination?

  • Refusing to rent to a family with children. (Unless housing is specifically and exclusively designated for older persons)
  • Restricting families with children to certain buildings or floors.
  • Requiring families with children (or any protected group) to pay higher deposits. (Owner is allowed to charge a separate security deposit for pets.)
  • Steering African Americans (or any protected group) to certain parts of a community.
  • Stating that a unit is not available when it is.
  • Refusing to make loans in certain neighborhoods.
  • Suggesting that a person can pay for their deposit with sexual favors.
  • Asking a person with a disability if they really are allowed to live on their own.
  • Refusing to allow a person who is visually impaired to move into a unit with their assisted animal.
  • Building a large, new apartment building that has no accessible units.
  • Advertising a unit using terms like: Christian couple wanted; adults only or ideal for one person.

Why is it important to fight discrimination?
When acts of illegal housing discrimination are allowed to occur or continue in a community there are many consequences. Housing discrimination tears at the fabric of a community and encourages an environment where disputes escalate. Unchecked, housing discrimination encourages the racism and bigotry that fuel these actions. Acts of housing discrimination that go unchallenged send a message of apathy throughout a community and result in reduced efforts to seek help when it is needed. Housing discrimination leads to segregated neighborhoods and feeds the stereotypes that form the basis for discrimination. Where discrimination flourishes so does a lack of respect for all cultures. Housing discrimination works to perpetuate other housing problems, such as tight housing markets, substandard housing and homelessness.

What information may a landlord legally obtain on a rental application?

  • Names, relationship, gender, social security number and date of birth of all persons who will be residing in the unit
  • Applicants name, current address and telephone number
  • Questions regarding the employment and all income sources of the potential tenant
  • Information regarding bank accounts
  • Previous addresses including previous landlords and how to contact them
  • Whether applicant is applying for a handicap accessible rental unit
  • Personal references (character) and emergency contact information
  • Whether applicant is willing to comply with all of the buildings rules regarding such things as pets, smoking and general policies of cleanliness
  • The landlord may ask if a prospective tenant has ever been convicted of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance or if the prospective tenant currently uses drugs illegally.
  • A tenant may also be asked if their tenancy would pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other people currently residing in any adjacent units or in the neighborhood.
  • If the tenant is applying for housing designed or designated for people with a particular disability, it is legal to ask if the applicant qualifies for that type of housing.
  • Landlords can check your previous credit history and obtain a Credit Report

As a landlord can you legally reject a prospective tenant?
Yes – In two situations.

  1. The landlord may reject an application from a prospective tenant if it can be documented that the applicant cannot meet the obligations that apply to all tenants, such as being able to pay the rent and complying with reasonable rules and regulations. Such a rejection must be based on concrete evidence. For example, if a prospective tenant needs a certain amount of take-home pay to afford the monthly rent and the documented earnings information shows that the prospective tenant’s salary is too low, the landlord can reject the application. Another valid reason would be if the prospective tenant’s most recent or previous landlord reported that the tenant ignored reasonable building rules and refused to discuss and/or comply with the landlord’s request to do so.

  2. The landlord may reject a prospective tenant’s application if it can be substantiated with written documentation that the health and/or safety of other individuals could be threatened by the prospective tenant’s occupancy. Again, the landlord has to have objective evidence, recent enough to be credible, in order to make such a claim and reject the application.

It is also unlawful for a landlord to impose terms and/or conditions in the rental of a dwelling unit, or in the provision of benefits and services to the dwelling unit that are not imposed on other tenants.

As a landlord, under the FHA, a tenant’s request for reasonable accommodation in the rental of a dwelling unit must be given careful consideration and be accommodated when ever possible.

Who must comply with the Fair Housing Act?
Property owners, landlords, housing managers, real estate agents, brokerage service agencies and banks have to comply. The FHA covers both privately owned housing and housing subsidized by federal funds, such as low-income public housing and the Section 8 program.

The FHA does not cover landlords who live in their own buildings if the building has four or fewer apartments.Tenant - Landlord Facts & Responsibilities
The Ohio Tenant-Landlord Bill, effective November 4, 1974, applies to most landlord-tenant relations and governs most rental agreements whether oral or written. None of the rights, remedies or obligations which the tenant or the landlord have under this law may be taken away by any written or oral agreement.

The Ohio Tenant-Landlord law does not apply to condominiums, prisons, jails, workhouses, halfway houses, hospitals, resident homes, agricultural labor camps, tourist homes, hotels, motels, some boarding schools, dormitories, or courts. Ohio does have a law (Chapter 3733, Ohio Revised Code) which outlines responsibilities and rights of Trailer Park operators and tenants.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

The landlord must: (Sec. 5321.04(A), Ohio Revised Code)

  1. Comply with the requirements of any building, housing, health or safety codes which materially effect health and safety.
  2. Make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
  3. Keep the common areas of the premises (including walks, etc.) Safe and sanitary.
  4. Provide trash and waste receptacles, if there are four or more apartments in the building and arrange for their removal.
  5. Supply running water, a reasonable amount of hot water, and reasonable heat at all times, except where there is a direct utility hook-up that the tenant controls.
  6. Give the tenant reasonable notice of his intent to enter into a tenant’s apartment and enter only at reasonable times, except in case of emergency.
  7. Provide the tenant with the name and address of the owner and his agent, if any, in writing, at the beginning of the tenancy. If written lease, the owner’s name and address must be in the lease.
  8. Keep all electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances and elevators in good and safe working condition, when these things are supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
  9. Not harass the tenant by unreasonable or repeated demands to enter the tenant’s apartment. If the landlord or his agent enters without the tenant’s permission or repeatedly demands entry, the tenant can recover actual damages resulting from the landlord’s entering.

Tenant’s Responsibilities
The tenant must: (Sec. 5321.05(A), Ohio Revised Code)

  1. Keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses safe and sanitary.
  2. Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean, safe and sanitary manner.
  3. Use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
  4. Comply with the requirements imposed on tenants by the applicable housing, health and safety codes.
  5. Allow the landlord or his agent to enter his or her apartment for inspection to see what repairs are needed or to make repairs or improvements at reasonable times, if the landlord or his agent has given reasonable notice.
  6. Not intentionally or negligently destroy, damage, deface property or remove any plumbing fixture or appliance from the premises, and forbid any of his guests from doing the same.
  7. Act in a manner that will not disturb his neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
  8. Maintain in good working order and condition any range, refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, or other appliances supplied by the landlord and required to be maintained by the tenant under the terms and conditions or a written rental agreement.

If the tenant violates any provision of the above responsibilities, the landlord may recover any actual damages which result from the violation together with reasonable attorneys fees, termination of the rental agreement, or other necessary actions.

Security Deposits Return Requirements
At the end of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord must return the deposit within thirty days after the tenant moves. Before the tenant moves, he/she must leave a forwarding address in writing with the landlord.
Any past due rent or damages the tenant caused may be withheld from the deposit. The landlord must itemize each deduction in a written notice sent to the tenant.

If the landlord requires a security deposit in excess of one month’s rent and also in excess of $50.00, the landlord must pay 5% interest annually on the excess. Example: If the rent is $150.00 and the security deposit is $200.00 the landlord must pay 5% interest per annum on the $50.00 difference between actual rent and security deposit. A landlord does not have to pay interest on the security deposit if the tenant lives in the unit less than 6 months. (Sec. 5321.16, Ohio Revised Code).

Rent Depositing - Legal Rent Withholding For Repairs
(Sec. 5321.07 - 5321.10, Ohio Revised Code)
If the tenant reasonably believes that the landlord has not fulfilled his duties, or that the premises have code violations affecting the health and safety of occupants, the tenant may take the following action:

  1. Notify the landlord about conditions and request that they be corrected. The written notice (or letter) must be sent to the person or place where the tenant usually pays rent, if the landlord has given the required notice of his name and address. Send the notice by certified letter, return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the letter.
  2. If the landlord fails to correct the condition within a reasonable time (30 days maximum, depending on the urgency of the situation) and if the tenant is not delinquent in rent payments, the tenant may:
    1. Deposit all rent with the Clerk of the Municipal Court. Tenant does not need an attorney, and there is no filing fee.
    2. File a law suit requesting a rent reduction until the necessary repairs are made (and may ask the Court’s permission to use with the held rent to make repairs).
    3. Terminate the lease or rental agreement.
      Note: the tenant must be current in rent for legal remedies to apply.
      It is important to note that these actions cannot be taken against a landlord with three or fewer actually rented dwelling units, who informs the tenant in writing of the fact at the time they make the rental agreement.Landlord’s Response to Rent Withholding
      (Sec.5321.09, Ohio Revised Code)

Any landlord who receives a notice that a tenant’s rent has been deposited with the Clerk of Courts may request the Clerk of Courts to release the rent on the grounds that the conditions for which the tenant withheld rent have been remedied or repaired. The Clerk will immediately release the rent, less costs, to the landlord if the tenant gives written notice that the condition has been remedied.

The landlord may apply to the Court to release the rent on the grounds that:

  1. The tenant was delinquent in rent payments at the time the tenant deposited rent with the Clerk of Courts.
  2. He did not violate any of the responsibilities imposed upon him by rental agreement, or by any of the building, housing, health or safety codes, or that the condition the tenant describes in the notice has been remedied or repaired.

If the Court finds that the landlord did not violate any responsibilities imposed upon him, or that the condition the tenant complained about has been repaired or remedied, or that the tenant did not give notice correctly, or that the tenant was delinquent in his or her rent at the time the rent was deposited with the Clerk of Courts, the Court will order the release of the rent to the landlord.

Lockouts & Utility Shutoff
The landlord may not move a tenant’s furniture from his apartment, lock him out, or threaten any unlawful act including utility shut-off to get him to move. If this happens, the tenant may recover all his damages and reasonable attorney fees. The landlord can only evict and seize tenant’s property after a court hearing and obtaining a lawful court order. (Sec. 5321.15, Ohio Revised Code).Eviction
(Sec. 1923, Ohio Revised Code)

A landlord may evict a tenant if:

  • The tenant is delinquent in rental payments
  • The tenant caused severe damages
  • Required repairs are so large that the tenant must move out
  • The rental agreement has expired

Eviction Process:
Step I - A landlord or owner wishing to evict a tenant must notify the tenant to leave the premises three days or more before beginning any court action. The landlord must hand a written copy of the notice to the tenant in person, or leave the notice at the tenant’s residence. The tenant must be advised that he/she may need legal assistance.

Every notice given under this section by a landlord to recover residential premises shall contain the following language printed or written in a conspicuous manner: “You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance.”

Step II - If the tenant does not vacate the premises then the landlord must file a complaint at Municipal Court called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer Notice.”

Step III - The tenant receives a court summons at least (5) days before the hearing. Both parties may need an attorney.

Step IV - The Court hearing is held and a judge decides the case.

Where To Go For Help With Fair Housing Issues
If you have questions regarding fair housing or tenant-landlord issues do not hesitate to contact the agencies responsible for handling these questions:

Fair Housing Help

Tuscarawas County OCED

125 E. High Ave., # 212
New Philadelphia, OH 44663

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission
Akron Government Center
161 S. High St., Suite 205
Akron, OH 44308-160

United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
Housing Discrimination Hotline
1-800-669-9777 (toll free voice number)
1-800-927-9275 (toll free TDD number)