CBA Blog

What can I do if my landlord won’t return my deposit?

by John D. Treleven, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Your landlord is required to return your security deposit to you within 30 days of the termination of the rental agreement.  The date courts generally use is when you return the keys to your landlord as this constitutes “delivery of possession.”  When you return your keys, you should also provide a forwarding address where the security deposit can be sent (this is required to trigger the timeframes for return of the deposit).  Once again, this can be done via email.

If your landlord does not return your deposit, you should receive an itemization of deductions for damages and/or rent balances.  If you do not receive your deposit or an itemization, you have a cause of action against your landlord and you should consult an attorney.  You may also challenge any of the damages listed in an itemization by your landlord through the courts.

In Ohio, Tenants can seek “double damages” for any wrongfully withheld security deposits plus attorney fees.  Contact an attorney for a more detailed explanation as to your rights.

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Posted in Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How should I document decline in a rental property to protect my security deposit?

by John D. Treleven, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

In Ohio, landlords can only recover for damages beyond normal “wear and tear” on the property.  What constitutes normal “wear and tear” is generally determined on a case by case basis. Pictures, videos, and any other documented evidence will help you if you ever find yourself in court in regards to a security deposit.

When you first move into a property, you should take a number of pictures or a short video of the property.  You should pay special attention to any parts of the property that look damages already.  If you are taking a video, briefly show your smartphone or some other electronic device that displays the date and time to authenticate when the video was taken.  If you take pictures, develop them with a third-party and keep the receipt (they should then also have a development date on the back).

Some landlords will do a walkthrough of your property and note concerns together.  Make sure you get a copy of the written results of any walkthrough from your landlord.

Finally, put any concerns you have in writing and send them to your landlord.  Using email works best.  Be specific when addressing these concerns and it is unlikely that you will be held responsible for any damages listed when you move out.

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Can I change my child’s last name from the father’s surname to my surname?

by John D. Treleven, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Yes, you may.  However, there are a number of steps you must take, including proper service via publication, before you can change your child’s name.  If the father consents to the name change, then the matter can be concluded by filing all the necessary documents with the probate court, paying the requisite fees, and publishing a notice of the name change in a local newspaper.

However, if the father does not consent to the name change, then a formal hearing on the matter is required.  The father will have written notice of the hearing and may object to the change at the hearing.

The Hamilton County Probate Court does a terrific job of providing information about how to file for a name change.  You can find more information at http://www.probatect.org/

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Do I need the consent of the father of my abandoned child for him/her to be adoped by another man?

by John D. Treleven, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

First, you would need to determine the father’s legal standing in regards to the child.  Generally speaking, a man will be considered the legal father of a child if any of the following apply: 1) he was married to the mother when the child was conceived; 2) the father has adopted the child; 3) a court made a determination that he is the legal father; or 4) the father formally acknowledged paternity (through CSEA and/or birth records).

If a man is believed to be the father of the child but does not fit any of the possible definitions listed above, then he is considered the alleged or “putative” father.  This determination is important in deciding whether consent to adopt is necessary.

Written consent to adopt from a legal father is required unless you can prove that the father has only had minimal contact with the child or has failed to support the child for one year prior to filing for adoption or placement of the child in the petitioner’s home.

Written consent to adopt from a putative father is required unless you can prove that the putative father is not the actual father of the child, or if the putative father “willfully abandoned or failed to care for and support” the child.

In sum, if the father has taken certain legal steps to establish paternity, then you would need to show that he has only had minimal contact with the child or failed to support the child for one year.  If the father has not taken any legal steps to establish paternity, then you would need to prove he has had no contact with the child for ninety days or failed to support the child.

 As each factual situation is unique, you should contact an attorney who can help you determine the proper course of action.

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Posted in General Legal Information, Uncategorized, Wills/Trusts/Other Probate | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When my former employee is called during the process of a new job, what are they allowed to say/not say?

by Kelly Mulloy Myers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

An employer can lawfully give an employee a negative or poor job reference if it is truthful.  If an employer gives untruthful information about your employment or separation, the former employer may be liable for defamation.  Many companies have internal policies that restrict the information they will disclose in a reference check.  However, many employers will release whether or not the separation was voluntary and whether or not the employee is eligible for re-hire.  If you are terminated, ask what the policy is with respect to references.   It is also helpful to ask former supervisors and co-workers if they are willing to serve as a personal reference.  If you are concerned your former employer is giving you a bad reference, an attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement with the company to provide nothing more than neutral information.

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What is an ‘at-will’ employee?

by Kelly Mulloy Myers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

In Ohio, an employee is employed “at-will” if they do not have a contract of employment that sets forth the terms and conditions of employment or are a union member protected by a collective bargaining agreement.  “At-will” means the employer or the employee can lawfully terminate the employment relationship at any time without any reason or cause.  There are, however, many exceptions to the at-will doctrine.  For example, an employer may not fire an employee because of a protected characteristic (age, race, religion, national origin, gender, pregnancy, disability) or retaliate against an employee for engaging in protected activity such as complaining about discrimination, taking Family Medical Leave Act leave, or filing a workers’ compensation claim.

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What is my next step after I have been wrongfully terminated?

by Kelly Mulloy Myers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

If you believe you have been unlawfully terminated, you should speak to an attorney to discuss your concerns.  In addition to the anti-discrimination statutes, there are a number of other laws that protect employees in the workplace.  For example, the Family Medical Leave Act provides covered employees with twelve weeks of job protection because of absence due to a serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious medical issue.  Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee for engaging in protected activity such as complaining about discrimination, filing a workers’ compensation claim or taking FMLA leave.  An attorney can help you evaluate whether you may have a potential claim against your former employer.   An attorney can also provide advice and assistance on matters related to a termination such as negotiating a letter of reference and appealing a denial of  unemployment benefits.  There are statutes of limitations to file a charge of discrimination or initiate a lawsuit, so you should not delay in seeking advice.

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Posted in Employment | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What constitutes discrimination in the workplace?

by Kelly Mulloy Myers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

There are a number of federal and Ohio state laws that prohibit employers from taking adverse action against a person because of certain protected characteristics.  An employer is prohibited from making employment decisions because of a person’s gender, pregnancy, race, national origin, religion, age (if the person is forty or older), and disability.  An adverse employment action can include failing to hire a person, passing a person over for promotion, or terminating a person because of a protected characteristic.

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If I sign my assets over to my children now, will they have to claim as income and be taxed?

by R. Dennison Keller, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

If you give assets to your children, it will not be income to them.  It is a gift.  The gift will not be taxable per se unless the gift exceeds $14,000 and the giver has already given away $5.3 million during his/her lifetime.  Depending on the amount of the gift, the giver may have to file a gift tax return. Plus, if you give away an asset that has appreciated substantially during a lifetime, you may lose the step-up in tax basis and the recipient will likely have to pay a higher tax if he/she sells it in the future than if the recipient received it after death.

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Posted in Wills/Trusts/Other Probate | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How often should I update my estate planning documents?

by R. Dennison Keller, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Every 5 years is a good benchmark to update your estate planning documents, unless there is some intervening event or diagnosis that would require a change in planning.

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Posted in Wills/Trusts/Other Probate | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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