Posted September 2, 202212:35 pm
By Abigail McCoy
Why is it important to know information about your landlord?
Most people know that landlords research their tenants. Before you even move in, your landlord probably knows how much money you make, your credit history, if you have a criminal record, and how many people live with you. But tenants should research landlords, too. A little effort can save you from moving into a property that’s likely to be foreclosed on, is in bad condition, or is managed by a landlord who files a lot of evictions.
What information are you entitled to know about your landlord?
Under Ohio’s Landlord Tenant Act, a landlord is required to provide the tenant with the name and address of either the property owner or the property manager. This information should be in your written rental agreement. If there isn’t a written agreement, the landlord should deliver this information to you in a written notice when you move into your apartment. If the landlord doesn’t do this, you should ask for the information in writing. If a landlord does not provide this information, they may give up their rights if you have future disputes over conditions and rent deposit with the court.
For more information, see resources available on Legal Aid's website.
Also, owners of rental properties that are located in counties with a population over 200,000 people, like in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties, are also required to file the owner’s name, address, and telephone number with the county auditor. If they fail to do so, the landlord may be fined between $50 and $150. According to the Cuyahoga County Auditor, the fine is $50 following each tax bill when the information is not filed.
What can public records tell me about a landlord?
Public records are a great place to learn information about a landlord. For example, you can check public records to see if your landlord is behind on property taxes. This is important to know because tax problems might mean the property is at risk of foreclosure. Most Ohio county auditors make property tax records available to the public on their websites.
In Cuyahoga County, the website is myplace.cuyahogacounty.us, where you can search the address of your building to find information on who owns your building and if past taxes are owed. For other counties, call the county auditor or search online for your county name, Ohio, and “property tax records.”
You can also find out if your landlord files a lot of evictions by searching the docket of your local municipal court. Most courts now have online dockets you can search by entering the owner’s name or company.
For example, in Cleveland, you can go to portal.cmcoh.org/cmcportal and do a smart search for the owner or property manager of your building.
How do I find out who my landlord actually is?
“Landlord” is a term that can refer to a property owner or a property manager (a person or company that is paid by the owner to deal with tenants and look after the property). Many renters know who manages their property. Fewer tenants know who owns their property. You can find who owns the property where you live by looking on your county auditor’s website (in Cuyahoga County: myplace.cuyahogacounty.us). Sometimes the owner is not a person but is a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). In order to find out who the person is that owns the business, you will have to do more research.
On the County Recorder’s website, or in Cuyahoga County at the Fiscal Officer’s website, recorder.cuyahogacounty.us, you should be able to search the database with the company name and find documents. The documents are usually a deed or mortgage and list the name of the owner or statutory agent.
What if I have more questions about my rights as a tenant?
You can call Legal Aid’s Tenant Info Line at 216.861.5955 (Cuyahoga) or 440.210.4533 (Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga and Lorain Counties). You can also see resources available on Legal Aid's website.
This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 38, Issue 2, in Summer 2022. See full issue at this link: “The Alert” – Volume 38, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (lasclev.org).