What is a Lease? 
A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that provides for the rental of real property. A lease agreement establishes the terms, conditions, rules and regulations for the occupancy of the premises. A lease is binding and enforceable through the courts. The Ohio Landlord Tenant Act of the Ohio Revised Code (R.C. Chapter 5321) defines the requirements for residential leases.

Laws governing manufactured home park landlords and tenants are found in Chapter 3733 of the Revised Code, Section 8 and other federally subsidized leases are governed by applicable federal regulations as well as state laws. Chapter 5313 of the Revised Code governs land installment contracts, and commercial properties are governed by the terms of the written lease and by case law.

Is a written lease required? 
An agreement can be oral or written. However, it is suggested and helpful to have the agreement in writing in case of future disputes regarding the terms of the lease agreement.

What should be in a lease? 
Common provisions of a lease include:

  • Name of the landlord and the landlord's address.
  • Name of the tenant and number of occupants.
  • Length of the lease.
  • Amount of rent to be paid during the terms of the lease.
  • Date of the month when the rent is due, consequences of non-payment and whether grace periods are given.
  • The amount of security deposit.
  • Any house rules.
  • Whether pets are allowed or prohibited.
  • Whether subletting the premises is allowed or prohibited.
  • If alterations are permitted without the landlord's consent or only with the landlord's consent.

What lease provisions are illegal or unenforceable? 
The Ohio Revised Code §5321.13 prohibits a lease from containing the following:

  • Any language that reduces a tenant's rights under the landlord-tenant law.
  • Any confession of judgment where the tenant gives up the right to legal proceedings.
  • Any provision to pay the landlord or tenant's attorney fees.
  • Any language that reduces or eliminates a landlord's liability, or shields the landlord for that liability.
  • Any provision that reduces or eliminates a landlord's obligation described above.
  • Any language found by a court to be so unfair it is "unconscionable."