An eviction is an unfortunate circumstance that most landlords have experienced at some time. To legally force a residential tenant to leave a rental property, a landlord in Ohio must follow the Ohio eviction process.
Self-Eviction is Illegal
A landlord may not action to evict a tenant without a court order. It is unlawful for a landlord to shut off utilities, change the locks on a unit or padlock it, remove the tenant’s belongings, threaten the tenant if he or she does not leave or take any other action to force a tenant to leave. Such acts may result in monetary damages to the tenant.
Reasons for Ohio Eviction
The Ohio eviction process allows landlords to legally evict a tenant for a number of reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Expiration of the lease
- Tenant’s failure to comply with health and safety codes
- Violation of material terms of the lease
- Commission of a drug offense
- Denying the landlord access upon reasonable notice (at least 24-hours)
Depending on the reason for the eviction, the Ohio eviction notice may be 3-days or 30-days.
For nonpayment of rent or in cases where the landlord reasonably believes the tenant or a person living on the property is involved in illegal drug activity, the landlord should send the tenant a 3 Day Notice to Quit form. The notice must advise the tenants that they are being asked to leave or that an eviction action will be brought against them. They are also advised to seek legal assistance if they have any questions or concerns.
For matters concerning a breach or violation of a material provision in the written lease, the landlord should send the tenant a 30-Day Ohio Eviction Notice. This also applies to month-to-month tenancies where a full rental month’s notice is required.
These notices may be served personally on the tenant or given to someone residing there, or it may be posted on the unit door or left in a conspicuous location.
Summons and Complaint
So what if the tenant does not pay the overdue rent within the 3-day period? Or the tenant has not complied and cured the lease provision violation within 30-days? Then the landlord must file and serve a Summons and Complaint called an action in Forcible Entry and Detainer.
The documents can be served personally, by leaving it at the tenant’s residence or it may be served by certified mail. The tenant must be given 5 working days between service of the Summons and the court date.
A tenant may file an Answer to the Complaint by denying the allegations and file it by the court date if he or she wishes to contest the eviction.
If the tenant or attorney is contesting the eviction, the court will typically reschedule the hearing for up to 8 days. The tenant will also be asked to post a bond. The parties are entitled to a jury trial if timely requested, otherwise a court trial will be held.
At the eviction hearing, the landlord must prove that the tenant has not paid the overdue rent or has violated some material provision of the lease. Rent receipts, damage estimates, photographs, police reports and witness testimony may be presented. The tenant may also present any evidence to refute the allegations or prove any counterclaims if alleged at the time the Answer is filed.
Ohio Rent Escrow
The tenant cannot simply refuse to pay the rent if the tenant alleges the landlord has failed to meet a legal obligation in the lease. For example, if the landlord has failed to repair a dangerous condition that affects the tenant’s health and safety or is in violation of the housing code. In this case the tenant must give the landlord a written notice to repair the condition and allow reasonable time, usually 30-days, to perform the repairs.
All rent must be kept current. The tenant must open a rent escrow account with the court clerk and deposit the rent there. The tenant should ask the court to order the landlord to make the repairs or release the escrowed funds so the tenant can use them to make the repairs. In some cases, the tenant may be allowed to terminate the lease with no further obligations and the rent money returned.
A tenant in the Ohio eviction process may assert any of the following defenses:
- The breach of a lease provision is not substantial enough to warrant an eviction.
- The allegations are false.
- There was improper service.
- The notice was improper.
- The landlord waived eviction by accepting rent.
- The eviction is in retaliation for the tenant having filed a complaint regarding the condition of the property.
- The eviction is based on the tenant’s religion, race, sex, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital or family status, or disability.
Judgment/Writ of Execution
A judgment for the landlord gives the tenant 10-days to vacate the property. If the tenant fails to leave after 10-days, the landlord must request a Writ of Execution. This is given to the sheriff who may execute it within 10-days of receiving it.