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Owning a rental property in Toledo comes with responsibilities and legal obligations that can be complex and challenging. To help property owners navigate these requirements, this guide provides essential tips for ensuring their property remains compliant with local and national housing regulations. Understanding and adhering to these laws is crucial to avoid fines and legal issues and to maintain a safe and fair living environment for tenants. 

Here’s what you need to know about housing regulations and how to stay compliant in Toledo.

What Are Housing Regulations?

Just because you are a property owner doesn’t mean you can own and lease a property in any condition. There are rules and regulations across the country that must be followed when owning residential rental properties. Otherwise, the landlord is at risk of fines or even criminal charges. 

Housing regulations are a set of laws and guidelines that govern the rental and ownership of residential properties. These rules are designed to ensure safe, fair, and habitable living conditions for tenants and outline landlords’ responsibilities and rights. They cover a wide range of areas, including property maintenance, tenant-landlord relationships, health and safety standards, and fair housing practices.

Rental property legal requirements in Toledo must follow national guidelines and state and local regulations. 

National Housing Regulations

Landlords across the United States must adhere to federal housing regulations designed to protect tenants’ rights and ensure safe, fair, and habitable living conditions. Various federal agencies enforce these regulations and outline the responsibilities landlords have in providing equitable and safe housing. Here is an overview of key federal housing regulations that landlords must follow:

Fair Housing Act (FHA)

The Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1968 and amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Under the FHA, landlords cannot refuse to rent, set different terms, or provide different services based on the protected characteristics. Furthermore, landlords must make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, such as allowing service animals and making accessible modifications.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

While primarily focused on public accommodations, the ADA impacts housing, particularly multi-family housing developments. Per the ADA, common areas and some units in multi-family housing must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Tenants with disabilities can request reasonable modifications to their living spaces at their own expense, with landlords required to allow these changes.

Residential Rental Property Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act was passed in 1992. It aims to reduce lead poisoning in residential properties built before 1978. As part of this act, landlords must disclose any known lead-based paint hazards and provide tenants with a federally-approved lead hazard information pamphlet.

Furthermore, contractors performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. For properties built before 1978, obtaining a lead-safe certificate after major renovations is part of the compliance process, ensuring that the property meets safety standards to prevent lead poisoning. Hiring local lead inspectors is crucial in this process, as they are certified professionals who inspect and certify properties for compliance with lead safety regulations.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The FCRA regulates the use of consumer credit reports in tenant screening. Landlords must obtain written permission from prospective tenants before accessing their credit reports. If a landlord denies a rental application based on information in a credit report, they must provide the applicant with an adverse action notice, including the reason for denial and the contact information of the credit reporting agency.

Federal Privacy Act

The Federal Privacy Act requires landlords to handle tenants’ personal information responsibly. Personal information, such as Social Security numbers and financial details, must be kept confidential and secure. Landlords must inform tenants how their personal information will be used and obtain consent before sharing it with third parties.

Toledo Housing Laws for Property Owners

Fortunately for Toledo real estate investors, property regulations are not overly restrictive, allowing for a favorable investment environment while still ensuring tenant protections and property standards. The Lucas County Auditor plays a crucial role in enforcing rental registry requirements for residential rental properties in Toledo, ensuring that rental property owners comply with the necessary regulations.

Here are some key aspects of Toledo housing laws that rental property owners must be aware of. The 

Property Maintenance and Habitability

Toledo residential rental property owners must ensure that their properties meet basic habitability standards. Habatility involves providing a safe and comfortable unit with access to essential services. This includes:

  • Safety and Health Standards: Properties must comply with local building, housing, and health codes, which are enforced by city housing inspectors. These inspectors have the authority to cite landlords for violations, condemn unfit properties, and prosecute non-compliant landlords.
  • Essential Services: Landlords must provide a heating system capable of maintaining at least 68 degrees in each habitable room, supply adequate hot and cold running water, and ensure that electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems are in good working order.
  • Pest Control: Landlords are responsible for exterminating pests to maintain a healthy living environment.
  • Trash Disposal: In multi-unit dwellings, landlords must provide facilities or containers for the sanitary and safe storage and disposal of trash.

Additionally, the maintenance of attached structures, such as porches or stoops, is crucial as they are part of the residential rental property’s habitability standards.

Toledo Tenant Rights and Protections

Tenants in Toledo are afforded various rights to ensure their safety and well-being. First and foremost, they have the right to privacy, which means that rental property owners (or their property management) must give their residents at least 24-hour notice before entering the rental unit, except in emergencies. Improper access can lead to liability for trespassing on a private residence.

Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants when evaluating rental property applications. They cannot refuse to rent to tenants based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, disability, military status, ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Under the FHA, rental properties must be available to any qualifying applicant. Discrimination compliance is required; any complaints can be submitted to the Toledo Fair Housing Center.  

Lastly, there are retaliation laws in place to protect tenants. Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants for exercising their legal rights, such as complaining about city code violations or joining tenant unions. Examples of retaliation can include: 

  • A property owner increases the rent in response to a tenant’s complaint.
  • Reducing services (such as utilities or maintenance).
  • Initiating eviction proceedings.

In cases where the landlord’s actions are found to be deliberate or malicious, the court may award punitive damages to the tenant. These damages are intended to punish the landlord and deter future retaliatory behavior.

Lease Agreements and Notices

Specific laws govern real estate contracts, including lease agreements. Any lease agreement, whether short or long-term, must be in writing. Clear and comprehensive lease agreements help prevent disputes and ensure compliance with local laws. 

For example, leases should specify the duration, rent amount, payment terms, and conditions for lease renewal. The tenant and property owner should follow these terms.

If an owner decides to make any changes to the terms as is allowed in the lease, they must give proper notice. Landlords must provide proper notice for lease termination, rent increases, or entry into the rental unit.

Eviction Procedures

As a rental property owner, you never want to evict a tenant. However, sometimes eviction is a necessity to protect your investment. Toledo landlords have the right to evict tenants under certain conditions, following legal procedures:

  • Non-Payment of Rent: Landlords can file for eviction if tenants fail to pay rent as agreed.
  • Lease Violations: Eviction can also occur if tenants violate significant lease terms, such as causing damage or engaging in illegal activities.
  • Holdover Tenants: Landlords can evict tenants who remain in the property after the lease has expired without the landlord’s consent.
  • Health and Safety Violations: Landlords can initiate eviction proceedings if tenants fail to correct health and safety violations after receiving written notice.

The eviction process in Lucas County must be followed to lawfully evict. Before starting the process, owners must serve a 3-day notice to vacate for a serious lease violation or a 30-day notice to terminate a month-to-month lease. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, then you can file an eviction complaint.

Toledo Housing Compliance Tips

Staying in compliance with Toledo housing regulations can require a lot of learning from property owners, especially with their first residential rental property. Not following regulations can leave you exposed to fines or lawsuits. To help you get started, here are some of our Toledo housing compliance tips. 

Hire a Lawyer Day One

Once you purchase a Toledo residential rental property, you should hire a lawyer to educate you on your duties as a landlord and provide you with a legally binding and protecting lease. It is never recommended to use a template you find online to save money. 

Educate Yourself with Online Resources

We live in an age where information is (nearly) free. Use the resources linked throughout this article and those you find online to learn about what rules you need to follow. 

Work with a Property Management Company

One of the biggest benefits of working with a Toledo property management company is that they handle hundreds of leases yearly. As Toledo’s top property management company, it’s our job to ensure that your property is compliant with Toledo’s housing regulations. An experienced property manager knows the legal restrictions and protections awarded to property owners. 

Get Peace of Mind with Oz Realty

Oz Realty has been serving Toledo real estate investors for a decade. We have an established portfolio of over 400 properties and have narrowed down property management to a science. 

Working with Oz Realty means that you don’t have to worry about keeping your property compliant because our team does that for you. Get started with professional property management today.

About the Author

Kelsey Heath

Kelsey Heath is a real estate content specialist with an extensive background in residential, industrial, and commercial property. She has been involved in the industry for a decade as a professional and personal investor, gaining a deep understanding of the market and trends. With a passion for written communication, Kelsey loves helping people understand the sometimes-complicated concepts behind real estate and is now a sought-out guest and ghostwriter.

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