Ohio Landlords Lose at Supreme Court

Posted by Tim Parker on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 at 6:18pm.    1899 Views

Only two days before the world's celebration of St. Valentine's Day and the Ohio Supreme Court showed no love to landlords.  In a unanimous ruling, the highest court in the state ruled that landlord's owe both tenants and their guests safe and sanitary conditions.  

The Case that Made the Case

The story goes that a teenage girl was visiting family friends at their apartment building.  The lights in the common area of the building were not working and had not been repaired after repeated requests.  This young girl tripped and fell headfirst through a large glass window.

The accident left her with life-threatening injuries of which she recovered but for some permanent scarring.  Her parents' tried to level a lawsuit against the landlord claiming that he was at least partially at fault for not having provided safe conditions on his property.  The landlord argued that the law states his duty of safe conditions is due only his tenants.  Appeals and such got this case all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court and all 7 of the Justices said in effect that the intention of the law was not to separate people on the property according to titles, but that the intention was for landlords to provide safe and sanitary conditions period.  This ruling has resulted in the wording of the law to be changed by the state legislation to include "and guests."

How Much Will This Ruling Impact Ohio Landlords?

This ruling will have no affect on the way that the majority of landlords do business in the state because they already supply both their tenants and guests with safe and sanitary conditions.  When someone sues for damages they are burdened with proving an intentional negligence on the part of whomever they are suing.  This hasn't changed anything dealing with landlord-tenant relationships except that landlords now have a clarification of the laws that they are required to obey anyways.

Landlord's Should Seek Advice Early

Anyone thinking about getting into the investment property business should seek the counsel of an experienced real estate agent who can help guide them through a proper assessment of a piece of property and help them put-in-place mechanisms which prevent problems caused by negligence and ignorance.  The answer to the question raised is: It only takes 1 professional Realtor to remind a landlord to change a lightbulb.

Tim Parker
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2 Responses to "Ohio Landlords Lose at Supreme Court"

Josh H. wrote: I read this and the ruling from the court. There is nothing here that punishes slum lords. We need to make it harder for just anybody to rent properties.

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 11:07am.

Tim Parker wrote: Josh,
You are correct that this particular case did not punish the landlord, but it did clarify the existing laws so that the plantiff can move forward in her lawsuit of the property owner.
As for the vast amount of inexperienced landlords, there is hope! I have written many times about the importance of having the confidence of professionals. If landlords are looking for help in identifying areas where they might be in violation of the law, susceptible to lawsuits from negligence, or advice on how to maximize their profits from their investment, a Realtor can help. Property owners who invest and don't care are the ones who give the rest a bad name. The best way to eliminate these owners from the market is by not renting from them. Even a lessee can benefit from getting the advice of a Realtor before they rent.

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 11:15am.

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