Can I be locked out of my rental?

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Can I be locked out of my rental?

I am renting an apartment on a weekly basis. My apartment building is owned by the same guy who owns the hotel that is attached. There is no actual lease on the apartment just an agreement about how much I pay and when I pay and what he does as a landlord. He agreed to bomb the apartment complex because of roaches. He agreed to do this about 2 months ago but has yet to deliver on that agreement. I informed him that I would no longer be paying rent until he bombs the apartment. He told me that if I do not pay my rent than he will put a deadbolt on my door. Can he do that? Does he have to give me an eviction notice? I just want to know what my legal rights are.

Asked on February 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Even without a written lease, a landlord may not simply lock you out or change your locks. The only way a landlord can evict a tenant, even one on an oral lease, is by going to court.

2) If you do not pay rent, of course, the landlord can seek to evict you, as you will be in default or breach of the lease. Nonpayment is the most common grounds for eviction.

3) If the landlord looks to evict you for nonpayment, you may try to raise a roach infestation as a defense to eviction, claiming that the landlord breached the implied warranty of habitability--the obligation to keep premises in a state that is fit for inhabitation. Note, however, that a few roaches would not violate the warranty--the infestation must be so bad as to effecitvely make the premises uninhabitable, to serve as a defense to eviction if you do not pay and the landlord tries to evict you.


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