Glyco v. Schultz

Citation289 N.E.2d 919,35 Ohio Misc. 25
Decision Date24 November 1972
Docket NumberNo. 3851,3851
Parties, 62 O.O.2d 459, 64 O.O.2d 180 Jane GLYCO, Plaintiff, v. Thomas J. SCHULTZ and Margie (Fay) Schultz, Defendants.
CourtCourt of Common Pleas of Ohio


Plaintiff commenced this action in forcible entry and detainer on May 25, 1972 seeking possession of certain premises described as 203 North King Road, Holland, Ohio, and praying for rent allegedly due.

Upon Defendants' Motion the first cause of action of the Complaint was dismissed for failure to serve a three-day notice as required by Ohio Revised Code § 1923.04.

Thereafter defendants answered denying that rent was legally owed and raised affirmative defenses alleging that plaintiff had breached the lease contract, had breached the implied warranty of habitability and had breached the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. Defendants counterclaimed for damages as the result of the breaches noted above.


There is no substantial dispute about the facts in this case. In September of 1970 Plaintiff, Mrs. Jane Glyco, rented a house and thirty acres located at 203 North King Road to defendants. Under the oral month-to-month lease contract the stipulated rent was to be two hundred dollars ($200.00) per month.

The defendants introduced evidence to show that when they moved into the house in September of 1970, there existed serious and substantial violations of the Lucas County Housing Code. The electrical system was in a state of disrepair and woefully underserviced, the furnace was faulty, the steps were deteriorating, and the upstairs floor was weak. These conditions continued throughout the tenancy and resulted in great inconvenience to defendants, loss of personal property and expenditures for repairs. This evidence was not contradicted by plaintiff.

The testimony indicated a constant and continual need to purchase and replace burned out light bulbs and fuses. Two television sets and an electric clock burnt up and were lost, and an electrical fire started due to the condition of the electrical system. The furnace was not properly maintained and on a number of occasions refused to work or emitted smoke and fumes soiling the walls and furniture. Repairs to the furnace were contracted and paid for by defendants. The unmaintained steps collapsed when defendant's mother stepped upon them necessitating their repair. The weak floors rendered it unsafe for the father to go into the children's rooms.

Defendant further stated, and was not contradicted, that the plaintiff landlord was notified by letter on at least three occasions about the condition of the house. Plaintiff refused to repair the defects or to reimburse defendants for their losses or expenses of repair. In fact, plaintiff never inspected or repaired the property during the defendants' tenure, or during the tenure of the former tenants. Instead, plaintiff spent the majority of each year in Florida, leaving no manager or caretaker to maintain the property in her absence.

Defendants testified that damages due to the above conditions amounted to one hundred forty six dollars ($146.00) in repairs and the loss of a one year old color TV set purchased for six hundred fifty dollars ($650.00). These losses do not include the second TV set which was borrowed from defendants' brother, the clock for which no value was given, and is exclusive of the money spent for replacement of light bulbs and fuses.

In August 1971, less than a year after defendants moved in, a third person, a farmer, entered upon the rented property and began plowing. Defendants had the sheriff eject him. Plaintiff then notified defendants that he had rented the land to the third party. Plaintiff denied defendants' request for an adjustment in rent due to these changed circumstances. The portions of the property where defendants had formerly planted their garden, pastured their pony and tended a strawberry patch, were thereafter plowed and planted by the new tenant. The defendants were forced to give away the pony which they had purchased for forty dollars ($40.00). For the remainder of the tenancy, the defendants did not have the use of this part of the property.

Throughout these events, even in the face of the conditions of the house and plaintiff's refusals to repair, defendants continued to pay the full rent. In November 1971 defendants began to pay one-half of the rent each month in an effort to secure the necessary repairs, These payments continued through March 1972. The evidence further showed that the former tenants, university students who had rented only the house, paid one hundred twenty dollars ($120.00) per month rent throughout their tenancy.

The uncontroverted testimony of Mr. Donald Brown, Housing Sanitarian, Lucas County District Board of Health and Mr. Donald Werr, Jr., Electrical Inspector, Lucas County Department of Inspection established that the following violations of the Minimum Housing Code and the standards thereunder existed on the property: electrical service substandard (60 amps), insufficient electrical circuits, insufficient electrical outlets, surface wiring of lamp cord (18 gauge), use of surface outlets ('fire hazard' outlets), use of oversized fuses, bathroom outlets not grounded, use of brass light sockets, inoperative porch light socket, failure to maintain furnace, failure to maintain steps, weak floors upstairs, leak in kitchen ceiling, sewage empties on ground, broken floor tile in bathroom, and insufficient ceiling height in upstairs bedrooms.

Both inspectors stated that the condition of the house, especially the substantial electrical violations, constituted a serious danger to the health and safety of the occupants. As a result of these conditions, the house was subsequently condemned as unfit for human habitation.


In brief, the court holds that under Ohio law a lease is a contract and should be interpreted and construed like any other contract. The law of the place of making of a contract enters into and becomes a part of the contract and where a lessor breaches a material duty imposed by such law the contract is breached. Standards established by any local building, housing, or health codes, in existence at the time and place of the making of a lease contract enter into and become a part of the contract, and where a lessor fails to abide by the provisions of such codes he is liable to the lessee in a suit sounding in contract. Such breach gives rise to the ordinary contract remedies.

In addition where a lease contract is made in violation of a statutory prohibition designed for the protection of health and welfare, such as a housing code, the contract is illegal and void. An illegal contract confers no rights on the wrongdoer.

In Ohio a lease is a contract as well as conveyance and is to be interpreted with reference to contract principles. Sigler-Bach Co. v. Wurlitzer Co., 8 Ohio Law Abst. 267, 268 (1929); Cook v. Village of Paulding, 33 Ohio Ops.2d 165, 167, 207 N.E.2d 405 (1965); Shinkle, Wilson & Kreis Co. v. Birney and Seymour, 68 Ohio St. 328, 333, 67 N.E. 715 (1903); Lauch v. Monning, 15 Ohio App.2d 112, 239 N.E.2d 675, 677 (1968); See also: Javins v. First National Realty Corp., 138 U.S.App.D.C. 369, 428 F.2d 1071, 1075, cert. denied 400 U.S. 925, 91 S.Ct. 186, 27 L.Ed.2d 185 (1970); Lemle v. Breeden, 51 Hawaii 426, 462 P.2d 470 (1969); Medico-Dental Bldg. Co. v. Horton & Converse, 21 Cal.2d 411, 132 P.2d 457 (1942); Ingram v. Fred, 210 S.W. 298 (Tex.Civ.App., 1918).

The rule is well established in this state, that a contract made in violation of a statutory prohibition designed for police or regulatory purposes is void and confers no rights upon the wrongdoer. 11 O.Jur.2d Contracts, § 93, 331-33; Restatement: Contracts, § 580 (1933); e. g. Bell v. Northern Ohio Telephone Co., 149 Ohio St. 157, 158, 73 N.E.2d 42 (1948); Buchanan Bridge Co. v. Campbell, et al., Commissioners, 69 Ohio St. 406, 54 N.E. 372 (1899). And it is clear that the same rule obtains when a lease contract is entered into in violation of a statute. e. g. Deal v. Garaux Bros. Co., 42 Ohio App. 191, 197, 181 N.E. 920 (1930); Weizman v. Chapin, 51 Ohio Law Abst. 26, 29, 79 N.E.2d 668 (1948).

In the case at bar the evidence was that there existed upon the premises a number of substantial violations of the Lucas County Housing Code 1 at the time of rental and throughout the tenancy. The Housing Code expressly prohibits the rental of a dwelling with such violations. Section 4.0 of the Code provides that:

'No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:' (listing 28 separate requirements)

And in Section 4.28 of the Code:

'No owner shall occupy or let to any other occupant any vacant dwelling unless it is clean, sanitary, and fit for human occupancy.'

The purpose clause further states that the Code is 'establishing minimum standards governing the conditions of dwellings offered for rent.' (emphasis supplied).

Having found that at the time the lease contract was entered into, and continuing throughout the tenancy there existed on the premises substantial violations of the Lucas County Housing Code which were known to plaintiffs, the court must consider what rent, if any, plaintiff is entitled to, for defendants' use of demised premises.

Where, as in the present case, a lease contract is entered into in violation of the Housing Code, it is the better view that the lease contract is illegal and void and confers no rights upon the wrongdoer. See Brown v. Southall Realty Co., ...

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