§ 375.08  Retaliation of Landlord Prohibited; Relief
   (a)   Subject to division (d) of this section, a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by increasing the tenant’s rent, decreasing services that are due to the tenant, bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession of the tenant’s premises, terminating or threatening to terminate the tenant’s rental agreement, or refusing to renew the tenant’s rental agreement or to continue the tenant’s tenancy because:
      (1)   The tenant has complained to an appropriate governmental agency of a violation of a building, housing, health, or safety code that is applicable to the premises, and the violation materially affects health and safety;
      (2)   The tenant has complained to the landlord of any violation of RC 5321.04;
      (3)   The tenant has joined with other tenants for the purpose of negotiating or dealing collectively with the landlord on any of the terms and conditions of a rental agreement;
      (4)   The tenant has complained to an appropriate governmental agency of a violation of Chapter 240 that is applicable to the premises or the tenant (or an organization on the tenant’s behalf) has taken action under division (b)(3) of Section 240.06.
   (b)   If a landlord acts in violation of division (a) of this section, the tenant may:
      (1)   Use the retaliatory action of the landlord as a defense to an action by the landlord to recover possession of the premises;
      (2)   Recover possession of the premises; or
      (3)   Terminate the rental agreement.
   In addition, the tenant may recover from the landlord, at the tenant’s option, either any actual damages, together with reasonable attorneys’ fees, or damages of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00), together with reasonable attorneys’ fees.
   (c)   Nothing in division (a) of this section shall prohibit a landlord from increasing the rent to reflect the cost of improvements installed by the landlord in or about the premises or to reflect an increase in other costs of operation of the premises.
   (d)   Notwithstanding divisions (a) and (b) of this section, a landlord may bring an action under RC Chapter 1923 for possession of the premises if:
      (1)   The tenant is in default in the payment of rent;
      (2)   The violation of the applicable building, housing, health, or safety code that the tenant complained of was primarily caused by any act or lack of reasonable care by the tenant or by any other person in the tenant’s household, or by anyone on the premises with the consent of the tenant;
      (3)   Compliance with the applicable building, housing, health, or safety code would require alteration, remodeling, or demolition of the premises which would effectively deprive the tenant of the use of the dwelling unit. This division does not apply where a landlord is required to reduce and control lead hazards on residential rental property pursuant to Chapters 240, 365 or 371.
   (e)   The maintenance of an action by the landlord under division (d) of this section does not prevent the tenant from recovering damages for any violation by the landlord of the rental agreement or of RC 5321.04.
(Ord. No. 747-2019. Passed 7-24-19, eff. 7-26-19)