Students should be aware of renting rights

Katie Greenwald

Most citizens are well aware of their rights protected under the United States Constitution, but some students aren’t so aware of their rights as tenants.

Tenants’ rights are protected under the revised Ohio Code of the Tenant/Landlord Law.

Ashley Geis, a biology major and tenant at Holly Park, is aware tenant rights exist, but she doesn’t know the details of all of those rights.

One of the rights is the right to join a tenants’ union to bargain with landlords.

Geis said she didn’t know that right existed and doesn’t think she’ll use it even now that she knows.

Eileen Stiffler, community development specialist at the Portage County Regional Planning Commission, said the right to bargain can be beneficial to tenants.

She said tenants who share the same landlord have the right to organize and discuss issues they face as tenants. The tenants can then present their issues to the landlord.

She said, for example, if the landlord has a rule against keeping pets, everyone in the rented community may band together and ask to keep a pet. The landlord doesn’t have the obligation to accept the requests, but the tenants cannot be evicted for asking.

Under the law, tenants also have the right to complain to a government agency if they believe the landlord violated housing laws and health and safety regulations.

One issue falling under this category would be if a landlord were to rent an unsanitary apartment.

Chad Wickman is an English graduate student who has rented unsanitary apartments in the past.

“The carpet was disgusting, the walls hadn’t been repainted. There was grease caked on the stove and (the apartment) had rodent problems,” he said.

Housing laws also include keeping electric, plumbing, heat and air conditioning up to par with safety standards, Stiffler said.

She said tenants with landlords who violate the law should contact her at (330) 297-3613.

What’s fair for the tenants is also fair for the landlords.

Landlords are allowed to evict tenants for being unsanitary, but they rarely do, Kent landlord Dennis Baughman said.

“As long as the rent’s coming in, you go along with it,” Baughman said. “Stereotypically, you expect young people to not care because the place isn’t theirs anyway.”

That’s not the only part of the law that’s fair on both sides.

The landlord knows where the tenant lives, and the tenant is allowed to know where the landlord lives.

This law was made so if a tenant has a problem, he or she will know where to find the landlord, Stiffler said.

Geis said she doesn’t know her landlord’s address, and she doesn’t care to know. She said there is an office available to help her with problems.

Another right the tenant has is to know three days in advance, in writing, before the landlord files for eviction in court.

Wickman expected tenants to receive 30 days notice.

Stiffler said that’s not necessary.

“Let’s say you’ve got a barking dog and the neighbors are complaining,” she said. “The landlord has to give you a 30-day warning.”

But if the rent is late, even one day, the landlord can give the tenant the three-day warning, she said.

That doesn’t mean the tenant would have three days to move out. The case would have to be filed with the court; the court would set a date and assign the tenant a day to move out from there.

The tenant also has the right to receive notice when the landlord chooses to raise rent or end the rental agreement.

Tenants can find a copy of the law at, or a summarized version at

Contact financial reporter Katie Greenwald at [email protected].