Representing Both Residential & Commercial Real Estate Issues

Many people are familiar with leases, as they are used almost any time a person rents a piece of real property. In Ohio, leases are governed by Ohio Revised Code Section 5321, and it requires that any lease that is longer than one year must be made in writing. There are a number of issues that may arise regarding lease agreements, including lease drafting, lease disputes, interpretation of lease terms, and evictions. The commercial and residential real estate attorneys at Katz, Pryor, and DiCuccio, LLP can help you with your commercial or residential lease agreement. Contact us for a consultation.

The relationship between a landlord and a tenant begins when the parties enter into a rental agreement. There are two main types of leases—commercial and residential leases. Commercial leases are leases between a landlord and a business. By entering into this lease, the business will be able to conduct its operations on that landlord’s premises. A residential lease is a lease entered into for a person to live on the premises. The use of a lease for purposes of a residence is the primary function of the lease, and often the lease will restrict the permitted purposes for which the premises can be used. Thus, many commercial leases prevent a person from also living there, and many residential leases prohibit a person from running a business out of the premises.

Ensure your Commercial or Residential Lease Agreement complies with Ohio Law

However, for the landlord and tenant to enter into a lease agreement, someone must actually draft the lease agreement. These lease agreements are often very long, so it is recommended that you have an attorney draft them for you to ensure that they comply with Ohio law. Clear drafting of commercial and residential lease agreements is critical to ensure clarity in the lessor’s and lessee’s rights and obligations. Lessors and lessees should pay particular attention to lease topics including terms, price, calculation of price, expenses, maintenance, renewal, notice, and permitted uses. The written lease agreement should contain all of these terms. However, while the drafting of lease agreements often results in long and difficult to understand documents, the landlord and tenant alike should be aware that a failure to read and not understand the terms of the agreement will not be a defense to enforcement of those terms. Thus, a competent attorney should assist you with both drafting and understanding these agreements to ensure that confusion doesn’t result in a future dispute.

Additionally, R.C. 5321 places various obligations on the landlord, while prohibiting other activities by them. First, the landlord must provide running water, plumbing, electricity, and ventilation systems. They also must comply with any housing building or health and safety laws, and keep the property safe and sanitary. When repairs are required, they must be completed in a reasonable time frame.  Additionally, this section prohibits a landlord from simply entering the premises at any time that they choose. Landlords must give a tenant reasonable notice before they enter. This section also prohibits a landlord from engaging in a retaliatory action against the tenant. This means that when a tenant in some way seeks improved housing conditions, typically through enforcement of housing codes, the landlord may not take some action to punish the tenant or retaliate against them. The prohibited retaliatory action can take many forms, including actually or threatening to increase rent, filing for an eviction, decreasing services available to the tenant, or refusing to renew the lease. However, it is important to note that the landlord is not prohibited from taking these actions; they are prohibited from taking these actions simply because the tenant sought improved conditions.

However, Ohio law does not only impose obligations on the landlord—there are certain obligations that a tenant will have under the lease as well. First, they have a duty to pay rent when it is due. They also must keep the premises clean and avoid destroying any part of the property. Next, they also may not behave in a manner that will disturb the peaceful enjoyment of neighbors.

Work with an experienced commercial and residential real estate attorney

Another facet of landlord-tenant and commercial leases is what happens in the eviction process. Ohio law allows for a property manager or landlord to evict a tenant when the tent violates the lease agreement terms in a material way or fails to make rent payments. However, for a landlord to evict a tenant, they must first provide the tenant with a Notice to Leave Premises which requires the tenant to leave the premises in 3 business days after service of this notice. After this 3 day period passes, the landlord will file a lawsuit for eviction. If the court finds in favor of the landlord, the county will place a “red tag” on the property, and after this, the tenant will have 5 days (not business days) to vacate the premises. If after 5 days, the tenant still has not vacated, the landlord can request a “set out” where local law enforcement will go to the property and force the tenant to vacate. However, it is important to note that the landlord may not forcibly evict the tenant themselves—they must allow law enforcement to do this.

Both landlords and tenants need quality representation in navigating Ohio’s landlord/tenant law. The provisions of R.C. 5321 are often vague and require expertise. When disputes arise between landlords and tenants, in either commercial or residential settings, it is important that the parties rely on attorneys who know this area of law. Our clients depend on assistance interpreting provisions in their lease agreements, issuing contractually and statutorily required notices, or filing suit in forcible entry and detainer (eviction) actions. Contact an attorney at Katz, Pryor & DiCuccio, LLP today to ensure your rights are properly exercised under Ohio’s landlord/tenant law.