Bellefontaine Examiner

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Judge Beck explains steps for rent escrow

There are a few steps tenants must take to address housing issues before they can begin paying their rent to the Bellefontaine Municipal Court, Judge Ann Beck said in a release Friday.

annbeck

JUDGE BECK

In Wednesday’s edition, the Examiner reported on an option available to tenants living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

“The clerk’s office, almost immediately, began receiving demands that the Court accept their rent and fix their situation,” Judge Beck reports. “Finding that it wasn’t quite as simple as all that, some tenants became frustrated and irritated with the court staff. It’s not difficult, but some steps are required by law.”

In the release, the judge writes:

Landlords and tenants have legal obligations to each other and to the landlord’s property by virtue of a contract, whether written or verbal. 

Their rights and responsibilities are found in Title 53 of the Ohio Revised Code. If a tenant reasonably believes that a landlord is failing to fulfill any obligations imposed in ORC Section 5321.14, the tenant may pursue remedies provided in ORC Sec. 5321.07.

One of the remedies is to deposit all rent that is due, and that will come due, with the clerk of the municipal court. That means that rent should be current in order to initiate the action. 

Before the court can accept those rents, however, the tenant must also  do the following:

• Provide the landlord with written notice, detailing the specific acts, omissions or code violations that constitute non-compliance. The letter should set a date that would allow a reasonable time, or 30 days, whichever is sooner, to rectify the problem or problems.

• The tenant then must file a copy of the letter, along with proof of mailing, with the Municipal Court.

• When the tenant letter is filed, the clerk will give the tenant an application to deposit rent with the clerk. At that time, the tenant can: deposit all rent that is due with the clerk; apply for an order reducing the periodic rent due until such time as the problem is corrected, and/or; apply for an order to use the rental payments to remedy the conditions.   

• The landlord then has a reasonable time, or 30 days, whichever is sooner, to rectify the problems.

• After the problem is repaired, the landlord may apply for a release of the deposited rental payments. The matter will be scheduled for hearing to assure that the problems are rectified before the rents are released.

Landlords and tenants should be aware that this is but one remedy. There are others.

Landlord/tenant can be a very complex area of law. The parties must understand that they are entering a legal contract and that both parties have rights and obligations under the law. As with other areas of law, it is wise to talk to an attorney for legal advice, the release concluded.

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