Tenant move-out and rent escrow

While the tenant has the right to put his/her rent into escrow during the term of the lease if the landlord has not fixed things around the rented premises after getting the proper notice to do so, a question often arises about what happens to the escrowed rent once the tenant moves out?

Picture the situation: A wealthy landlord has a rental property and isn’t fixing things for the tenant that need to be fixed after the tenant sends out a letter pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 5321.07. The tenant starts to escrow the rent with the clerk of courts. The landlord gets notice from the clerk of the escrow.

Because the landlord is wealthy, he doesn’t feel any particular financial pinch from the lack of the tenant’s $750.00 per month rental payment and just lets the rent pile up in the escrow account. Eight months later, the tenant moves out and the landlord petitions for the release of the escrowed funds, even though he never fixed the problem?

What can the tenant do?

Under Ohio law, the answer is nothing, because the tenant, after he or she moves out, is no longer a “tenant.” The tenant has no standing to argue that the rent be kept in escrow.

While this may seem unfair, the tenant did have remedies during the period of the tenancy. The tenant could have filed a Motion to Compel Repairs and the Court could have granted it, ordering the landlord to make the repairs and/or paying the tenant back for making the repairs himself out of the escrowed funds.