he Ohio Revised Code provides specific steps that must be taken by landlords and tenants regarding collection and return of security deposit. This guide will outline those steps.
The term "security deposit" is defined in O.R.C. 5321.01(E) as "any deposit of money or property to secure performance by the tenant under a rental agreement."
There is no section on the Ohio Revised Code that limits the amount a landlord can charge as a security deposit; however, if the security deposit exceeds a certain amount a tenant may be entitled to interest upon return of his or/her deposit. Specifically, O.R.C. 5321.16(A) states "[a]ny security deposit in excess of fifty dollars or one month’s periodic rent, whichever is greater, shall bear interest on the excess at the rate of five per cent per annum if the tenant remains in possession of the premises for six months or more, and shall be computed and paid annually by the landlord to the tenant."
Tenant and Landlord Requirements
A tenant must "provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent. If the tenant fails to provide the landlord with the forwarding or new address as required, the tenant shall not be entitled to damages or attorneys fees...." O.R.C. 5321.16(B). If a tenant provides a forwarding address then they have complied with the statutory requirments and now the burden shifts to the landlord to either: (1) return the full deposit, (2) return a partial deposit and an itemized list of all of the damages repaired and the correlating amounts reduced from the security deposit or; (3) retain the full deposit if the damages to the rental equal or exceed the security deposit and provide a itemized of the damages. The landlord must mail the return and itemized list of damages within 30 days of receiving the forwarding address from the tenant.
If the landlord fails to comply with aforementioned Ohio Revised Code sections, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees. Reading between the lines, this means that tenants are entitled to recover double damages under the Ohio revised code, plus attorneys fees.