Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
APPEAL FROM FAIRFIELD MUNICIPAL COURT Case No. 2015SCI00087
Rosalind Holmes, appellant, pro se
D. Donnett, for appellee
1} Plaintiff-appellant, Rosalind Holmes, appeals a
decision of the Fairfield Municipal Court granting a $659
judgment in favor of her former landlord, defendant-appellee,
Cobblestone Grove Apartments, LLC ("Cobblestone").
2} In July 2015, Holmes entered into a written,
one-year lease agreement with Cobblestone to rent an
apartment. The rent was $800 per month. Prior to this lease,
she had lived in the apartment for five years. In the late
evening hours of August 4, 2015, or the early morning hours
of August 5, 2015, Holmes discovered a "massive"
water leak and flooding in her kitchen and living areas.
Holmes notified Cobblestone's maintenance person of the
problem around 1:00 a.m. The maintenance person arrived at
the apartment at approximately 3:00 a.m. and directed Holmes
to vacate the apartment due to the flooding. Holmes stayed
with a friend. Holmes returned to her apartment on August 5,
2015, and discovered that her furnishings had been pushed to
one side of the apartment. The leak had been repaired.
3} Subsequently, Cobblestone arranged for extraction
of the water from the apartment, testing for mold and mildew,
and completion of the plumbing repairs. With the exception of
dry wall repair and additional testing for mold and mildew,
the repair work was completed by August 12, 2015. Cobblestone
contracted with a second contractor because of mold concerns.
By letter dated August 14, 2015, Cobblestone notified Holmes
that fans would be set up in the apartment for the weekend
for the purpose of fully drying the apartment and that they
would be removed on August 17, 2015. The letter further
stated that Cobblestone would be responsible for any extra
electric charges Holmes may incur due to the usage of the
fans. The second contractor made two small holes into the
walls to put air down into them and used a dehumidifier and
two carpet fans.
4} On August 9, 2015, Holmes sent an email to the
property manager, stating the apartment was not suitable to
live in as she could not cook, watch television, or relax,
and requesting a suitable place to live until all repairs
5} By letter dated August 21, 2015, Holmes through
her attorney notified Cobblestone she was terminating her
lease due to unsuitable living conditions, and gave her
30-day notice of intent to vacate. The letter explained that
there were holes in the bedroom and kitchen walls, the
carpets had not been cleaned, several fans and humidifiers
had been running constantly causing an increase in her
electric bill, and her dining room furniture was still
"shoved into her living room." Holmes turned in her
apartment keys to Cobblestone's office on September 30,
2015. Cobblestone re-leased the apartment effective October
31, 2015. Holmes submitted a claim for her personal property
damage upon her renter's insurance and was reimbursed
except for depreciation and a $250 deductible.
6} On September 11, 2015, Holmes filed a small
claims complaint in the municipal court against Cobblestone,
seeking $2, 500 in damages. The matter proceeded to a hearing
before a magistrate on November 4, 2015. On the day of the
hearing, Cobblestone filed its answer and amended
counterclaim, seeking $1, 700 in damages. Holmes objected to
the amended counterclaim, arguing it was untimely filed. The
magistrate offered to continue the hearing, which Holmes
refused, and the magistrate proceeded with the hearing.
Holmes and two of her friends testified on Holmes'
behalf. Todd Hignite, a regional manager for Cobblestone,
testified on behalf of the company. Holmes stated she was
seeking $2, 932.32 in damages; Hignite stated Cobblestone was
seeking $1, 764.66 in damages.
7} At the hearing, Hignite testified that while some
dry wall repairs remained, the apartment was fully habitable
by August 14, 2015. Certainly, the apartment was fully
habitable on September 30, 2015, when Holmes turned in her
apartment keys. Hignite admitted he did not walk through the
apartment after the repairs were done. Hignite personally
offered to move Holmes to another apartment on August 14,
2015. Holmes declined the offer because Cobblestone could not
guarantee the alternate apartment would be free of plumbing
8} Holmes denied the apartment was fully habitable
by August 14, 2015, or September 30, 2015. While the leak had
been fixed, there was mold and mildew, there was
"drywall everywhere, sanded down all over the kitchen
area, " she could not cook in the kitchen, and the
carpets had not been cleaned. One of Holmes' witnesses
testified that on the day he helped her move out, "the
living conditions were pretty bad, " there was a bad
smell "like really bad mold, " and the drywall
repairs were poorly done. Holmes also denied she was offered
an alternate apartment to live in. Rather, Cobblestone gave
her "the runaround about another suitable place"
and told her she did not need an alternative apartment as the
leak had been fixed.
9} On January 6, 2016, the magistrate found that
Cobblestone had fulfilled its obligations as a landlord under
R.C. 5321.04 and 5321.07, and that it was entitled to the
October rent in the amount of $800. The magistrate further
found that Holmes failed to meet her burden of proof and that
she was only entitled to be reimbursed for the additional
electric charges related to the repairs in the amount of
$141.36. Consequently, the magistrate recommended that a
rounded $659 judgment be granted in favor of Cobblestone.
Holmes filed objections to the magistrate's decision,
which were overruled by the municipal court.
10} Holmes now appeals, raising two ...