Ohio Security Deposit Laws

In Ohio, there is no limit to what a landlord may charge as a security deposit.
Written by Caitlin McQuade
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
landlords can charge a security deposit of any amount to renters. After the lease ends, the deposit must be paid back within 30 days. The landlord may withhold all or part of the deposit to cover previous unpaid rent or damages.
Security deposits are typical in rental agreements. They are used by landlords to ensure they do not lose money from renters pulling out of their leases unexpectedly or causing major damage to the property. On the renter’s end, things can be a bit tricky. Rules vary from state to state, and it’s a lot of money to put on the hook. 
If you’re renting in Ohio, it’s best to understand the laws and procedures before putting down a security deposit. That’s why
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What is Ohio law on security deposits?

A security deposit in Ohio is a non-refundable payment made to the landlord of a property that signifies a tenant’s intent to move in. The deposit is meant to be paid back in full at the end of the tenant’s lease unless the lease is violated or the tenant incurs appropriate deductions.
Section 5321.16 of Ohio’s
Civil Code
contains the rules and procedures for security deposits in the state.  

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Ohio?

The short answer is: there is no limit to what a landlord can charge for a security deposit in Ohio.
While there is no limit, it is typical for landlords to ask for a security deposit ranging from one to two months’ rent.
There is a rule in place that prevents landlords from requiring astronomical security deposits. Any amount above one month’s rent must gather 5% annual interest, which must be paid to the tenant by the landlord, should they occupy the rented space for over six months.
This means if you are renting a one-bedroom for $600, and you paid a $700 security deposit, you are entitled to 5% interest on $100 of the deposit. If the landlord does not pay interest to the tenant, the tenant is entitled to damages and reasonable lawyer’s fees.

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Ohio?

A landlord in Ohio has 30 days after completion of the lease to return a security deposit. The landlord must send the deposit and an itemized list of any deductions to the tenant’s provided address within this timeframe.

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Ohio?

A landlord in Ohio can apply all or part of a security deposit to pay for the following:
  • Previous unpaid rent
  • Damage created by a tenant’s failure to comply with the
    tenant obligations
    spelled out in section 5321.05 of Ohio’s Civil Code
Failure to comply with the Civil Code means the tenant has caused damage to the property, either through force or neglect. Under the Civil Code, tenants are obligated to operate electrical and plumbing fixtures properly, dispose of waste in a timely and sanitary manner, refrain from destroying or defacing the property, and more. 
This means if a tenant or their guest damages the property or any of the appliances provided by the landlord, part of the security deposit will be withheld to pay for the damages. It could also mean that water damage caused by improper use of a faucet could cost the tenant part of their security deposit.
If the landlord withholds any of the security deposit, they are required to provide an itemized list to the tenant that describes why each amount is being withheld.
Key Takeaway Security deposits in Ohio must be paid back to the tenant within 30 days of the completion of the lease, but damages or unpaid rent may be withheld.
MORE: Does renters insurance cover mold?

How to get your security deposit back in Ohio

When you move out, you should provide your landlord with a forwarding address. The landlord is then required to send your deposit—along with any itemized deductions—to that address within 30 days.
If it has been over 30 days and you have not yet received your deposit, your first step should be to contact your former landlord. You should ask for your security deposit in writing and confirm that there has not been any mixup with your new address.
If your landlord refuses to return your security deposit, you may take them to
small claims
court. You may also take them to small claims if you believe any part of your security deposit was wrongfully withheld, or they did not pay you the interest specified in Section 5321.16 of Ohio’s Civil Code.

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No. You must pay your last month’s rent as usual, and then receive the security deposit after the lease is completed.
Your landlord cannot charge for routine carpet cleaning. However, if you damaged or significantly dirtied a carpet due to noncompliance with the tenant’s obligations in the Ohio Civil Code, you may be charged for damages.
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