Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in Ohio

Statewide Laws for Limits, Deductions and Returns

Picture of Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in Ohio
Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in Ohio. Walter Bibikow/Taxi/Getty Images

The state of Ohio’s landlord tenant act includes specific rules for the security deposit. These rules are meant to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants by explaining the obligations of each party. Specific terms include how much can be collected and how long a landlord has to return the security deposit after move out. Here are five security deposit rights in Ohio.

Security Deposit Amount in Ohio?

The state of Ohio does not set a limit on how much a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit. The landlord could charge nothing or could charge one million dollars if they wanted. Most landlords will charge between one and two months' rent.

Why Can a Landlord Keep a Tenant’s Security Deposit in Ohio?

Each state has different reasons a landlord can make deductions from a tenant's security deposit. In the state of Ohio, you may be able to keep all or a portion of a tenant’s security deposit for the following reasons:

  • Unpaid Rent
  • Damage in Excess of Normal Wear and Tear
  • Unpaid Utilities
  • Late Fees

Do Security Deposits Have to Earn Interest in Ohio?

Not all security deposits in Ohio must earn interest. Tenants have the right to earn interest on security deposits that meet the following two requirements.

  1. Security deposits that are more than $50 or one month’s rent, whichever is greater.
  2. Security deposits collected as part of a lease agreement that is six months or longer,

Interest Rate:

  • For security deposits that qualify to earn interest, the interest rate must be equal to five percent per year.

When Is This Interest Paid?:

  • The landlord is required to pay this interest to the tenant on an annual basis.

Timeline for Security Deposit Return in Ohio

30 Days:

  • Ohio's landlord tenant law sets a time limit for landlords to return their tenants' security deposits. Tenants in Ohio have the right to the return of their security deposit within 30 days of move-out.

Written Itemized List:

  • If the landlord has taken any deductions from the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord must include a written itemized list when returning any security deposit amount owed back to the tenant. This list must itemize:
    • Each deduction taken from the security deposit.
    • Specific reason for the deduction.
    • Amount of each deduction.
  • For example, if a landlord deducts money from the security deposit for “cleaning,” this may not hold up in court. Even though the landlord could have meant, “cleaning for damages caused in excess of normal wear and tear,” if this is not specifically stated in the written itemized list, it would be interpreted as money withheld for basic cleaning costs, which is not an allowable deduction from the security deposit.

Forwarding Address:

  • In Ohio, it is the tenant's responsibility to provide the landlord, in writing, with a forwarding address where the security deposit can be sent. If the tenant fails to provide the landlord with a forwarding address, the landlord will not be penalized for failing to return the deposit within the 30-day window.

Landlord Fails to Return Deposit:

  • If the tenant has supplied the landlord with a proper forwarding address, in writing, and the landlord fails to return the tenant’s security deposit within the 30 day window, along with a written list of itemized deductions, if deductions have been taken, the tenant is granted certain rights. The tenant is entitled to the money owed to them, plus damages in an amount equal to the money wrongfully withheld plus any attorney’s fees.

Transferring Security Deposits When Selling Property in Ohio

If a landlord in Ohio sells his or her property, he or she must do one of two things:

  1. Return the security deposit to the tenant and notify the new owner that the security deposit has been returned to the tenant
    1. Or
  2. Transfer the security deposit to the new owner and notify the tenant in writing that the new owner is now in possession of their security deposit.

What Is Ohio’s Security Deposit Law?

For the actual text governing the security deposit law in the state of Ohio, please consult Ohio Revised Code Annotated §5321.16.