For many Ohio University students, the only thing on their minds after completing that last final exam of the semester is to get out of Athens for a much-needed winter break. The Center for Student Legal Services would like to take this opportunity to remind students who intend to vacate their rental property for long periods of time over the Winter Break of the need to make preparations before their departure.
Students should read the terms of their lease for any specific provisions regarding temperature control in the winter months and be sure to comply with the lease. In the absence of a specific lease provision, students should set the thermostat at a temperature that will be sure to keep the pipes from freezing. This temperature will vary depending on the condition of your rental property and the temperature outside. We recommend setting the thermostat on at least 60 degrees to ensure that pipes do not freeze; however, this temperature could be lower for a newer, well insulated rental unit. Students should also keep in mind that long absences and low temperatures can lead to musty or moldy conditions.
Students should also read the terms of their lease and determine if they are required to give notice to their landlord of an extended absence. We recommend that all students notify their landlord, in writing, of their intention to be absent from their rental property over the winter break and indicate the time period, their home address and telephone number. In addition, we recommend that students include in this notice any problems with the property that might make temperature control more difficult, such as a broken window, and request the landlord to check on their property if weather conditions become severe.
According to Ohio law, a tenant is required to keep their dwelling unit safe and sanitary. Students should be sure to dispose of all garbage and properly store remaining food items before vacating their rental unit in order to deter insects and rodents.
An empty home for an extended period of time can also increase the risk of criminal activity. We encourage students to remove valuable items from their rental properties. In addition, we encourage students to temporarily stop their mail and consider putting a few lights in the home on timers in order to give the appearance that the home is occupied to deter criminal activity.