Can a landlord increase the rent because the tenant complains of making repairs in the rental premises?

Full Question:

I am living in a rented apartment in the state of Ohio. My landlord has increased my rent because I complained about not making the repairs to the rental premises that were promised by him. These repairs are reasonably necessary to keep the premises in a habitable condition. What action can I take against my landlord?
12/29/2016   |   Category: Landlord Tenant   |   State: Ohio   |   #29045

Answer:

Per ORC Ann. 5321.04, a landlord is required to make all the necessary repairs to the rental premises, so that the premises are in a fit and habitable condition. Per ORC Ann. 5321.02, there are three remedies available to a tenant if the landlord increases the tenant's rent because the tenant complained to the landlord for any violation of section 5321.04. The tenant may either use the landlord’s retaliatory act of increasing the rent as a defense to an action by the landlord to recover possession of the premises; or the tenant may terminate the rental agreement, or the tenant may recover possession of the premises
ORC Ann. 5321.04 reads:

“(A) A landlord who is a party to a rental agreement shall do all of the following:
***
     (2) Make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition”
ORC Ann. 5321.02 states the remedies available to the tenant:
“(A) Subject to section 5321.03 of the Revised Code, a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by increasing the tenant's rent, decreasing services that are due to the tenant, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession of the tenant's premises because:
     (2) The tenant has complained to the landlord of any violation of section 5321.04 of the Revised Code;
***
 
(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 any actual damages 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.”

In the present scenario, the tenant may either use the landlord’s retaliatory act of increasing the rent as a defense to an action by the landlord to recover possession of the premises, or terminate the rental agreement or recover the possession of the rental premises.