Landlords in Ohio can avoid security deposit problems in two important ways.
First, when a lease is terminated with a tenant, follow the mandates found in ORC 5321.16. Specifically, any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. If you follow this process you should not be liable to a tenant for double the amount of a deposit withheld or attorney fees.
The second issue Landlords should avoid is calling an amount taken to hold a rental unit a security deposit. Under Ohio law, a security deposit means any deposit of money or property to secure performance by the tenant under a rental agreement. So there must be a rental agreement in place to trigger the security deposit rules.
If you are taking money to hold a unit, avoid calling such amount a security deposit until after a lease is signed. This will save you a lot of trouble if a potential tenant backs out and tries to get full return of the hold money.
If you are a landlord and need legal representation, call J. Thomas Hodges at 513-421-8454 to discuss your situation.