Kyle T. Kirts is an alumnus of the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio. In his capacity as an attorney, Kyle Kirts has represented a number of clients in landlord/tenant disputes.
Under Ohio law, a landlord has the right to collect and hold a security deposit from his or her tenant. This amount may be less than or equal to a single month’s rent. A landlord may charge more, but he or she is then required to pay an annual interest of five percent on the excess. When the tenant moves out, the landlord is obligated to pay back the security deposit within 30 days.
The landlord may deduct from this deposit any unpaid rent, utility bills, or other amounts due under the terms of the lease. He or she may also retain funds to cover damage to the property that exceeds normal wear and tear. Such damage may include cigarette burns, large marks on walls, or water damage on walls or floors due to tenant negligence. Landlords may not deduct any sum from the security deposit for minor imperfections caused by everyday use and living.
A tenant who disputes a landlord’s withholding decision has the right to file suit, provided that the tenant has not cashed a check for any amount returned by the landlord. If the landlord is found responsible for the disputed amount, he or she may be required to pay all wrongfully withheld funds or, if the tenant requests it, double the amount. Decisions on particular cases will be made at the discretion of a sitting judge.