What is Rent Escrow?
The relationship between landlord and tenant is ideally friendly. Usually, the tenant makes a verbal request that repairs be made and the landlord responds quickly. However, sometimes problems can occur in this process. The following information is for the use of those tenants who have decided that rent escrowing is the only way their landlord will make the necessary repairs.
The following are the necessary steps you need to take to escrow your rent.
Step 1: Define Your Problem
Your landlord has many obligations under the law and your lease. There are several types of problems that you have the right to demand be solved by your landlord. Your landlord is required to maintain the property in a fit, habitable, safe, and sanitary condition. Your landlord must maintain the property, as required by applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes. Your landlord must adhere to all requirements of your lease.
Some Examples of Problems:
- Insufficient heat
- Plumbing problems
- Garbage/rubbish collection facilities
- Dangerous stairways or steps
- Furnished appliances that do not work
Step 2: Notice to Remedy Conditions
You must give your landlord a written "Notice to Remedy Conditions." [Download a copy of a "Notice to Remedy Conditions" (DOC)].The written notice must be delivered to your landlord at least 30 days before you put any rent into an escrow. If you pay your rent in person, you may hand deliver the original "Notice to Remedy Conditions" when you pay your rent to your landlord. It would be wise to have a witness there when you do this. If you pay your rent by mail, send it Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested. Several days after mailing the notice you will receive the receipt in the mail. Do not lose it! It is your proof that you sent the notice and your landlord received it.
The "Notice to Remedy Conditions" informs your landlord of what things need to be done. It must be clear and specific. It must have enough detail so that the landlord and the court will be able to understand exactly what you are complaining about.
Step 3: Request an Inspection - Gather and Document Your Evidence
Photograph or videotape any of the problems of which you have notified your landlord. Try to keep a record of the date you took this picture or video. Problems that do not photograph or video tape well, such as inefficient heat, electrical outlets that do not work, or no water pressure, are proven with witnesses. Have a friend, eighteen or older, witness the problem.
Both types of problems should be reported to an appropriate government agency. If you request an inspection by Greene or Montgomery County Health Department, you will be able to obtain a report from them which will be valuable to prove existence of the problem you notified your landlord about.
If you live in Fairborn, Beavercreek, Xenia, or anywhere else in Greene County, contact the Greene County Health District at (937) 374-5600.
If you live in Dayton, Kettering, Centerville, Huber Heights, Riverside, Vandalia, New Lebanon, or anywhere else in Montgomery County, contact the Montgomery County Health District at (937) 225-4395.
Step 4: Depositing Your Rent in Escrow
After thirty days from the date you gave "Notice" to your landlord, you may deposit your rent with the Clerk of Court. Get the rent escrow form there. Do not deposit your rent if everything you gave Notice about has been fixed, but if anything that you gave Notice about is still not repaired, you have the right to pay your rent to the Clerk of Court. The Clerk of Court will give you a form to fill out. After you have filled out that application, the Clerk will accept your rent payment and give you a receipt. The clerk does accept personal checks.
After that, every time your rent is due, you should pay it to the Clerk of Court. You should not have to fill out the application after the first time. Each time you pay the Clerk of Court, you will receive a receipt. SAVE THE RECEIPTS.
If your landlord fixes everything you gave Notice about, you may resume paying your rent in the normal manner. You may also instruct the Clerk of Court to pay all the rent you deposited with the Clerk to your landlord.
If you have any questions about where the Clerk of Courts is located or which one you should pay your rent to, please contact Student Legal Services, Inc. and we will provide this information to you.
Step 5: Going to Court
Your landlord may ask the court to release your rent from escrow. Your landlord will be required to prove to the Court that the money should be released; all you have to show the Court is that the repairs have not been made. There are a limited number of reasons that the court will accept as sufficient to justify giving your deposited rent money to your landlord.
In court, you will be given an opportunity to tell your version of why you decided to escrow your rent. You can win, it is not hard. You may call or subpoena witnesses. You may ask questions of anyone who testifies for your landlord to help make the situation clear to the judge. You may represent yourself, however it may be wise to seek help from an attorney.
- The problem(s) complained about have been fixed.
- The tenant did not give the notice required.
- The tenant was not current in rent payments when the rent was deposited with the Clerk of Courts.
- The problem complained about was not a violation of the Ohio Tenant-Landlord Law, and was not a requirement of the lease.
- The problem was a result of an act of the tenant.
- The tenant acted in bad faith.
If you have an attorney, you are all set. If you do not have an attorney, you can call us at (937) 775-5857.