Summary of Ohio Eviction ProceduresEviction
A landlord may bring an eviction action against a tenant when the tenant has not paid the rent or who is:
- violating a condition of a written rental agreement that is not a duty imposed by ORC section 5321.05, or
- holding over beyond the term of the rental agreement.
To bring an eviction action, the landlord must first serve the tenant with a three (3) day notice to vacate. This notice must set forth the reason for the demand to vacate and also notify the tenant that:
"You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance."
The three(3) day period, for purposes of this notice, does NOT INCLUDE the day upon which the notice is given or intervening Saturdays, Sunday or holidays. After the three (3) days pass, on the following day, the landlord may file the complaint for forcible entry and detainer in the Lakewood Municipal Court. In the Lakewood Court the filing fee for an eviction is $80 for the first adult defendant named and $5 extra for each additional adult defendant named in the complaint. A hearing will be scheduled approximately two (2) weeks after the day on which the case is filed. This first hearing will determine the landlord's right to regain control of the premises. The landlord should prepare by bringing copies of all notices, the written rental agreement and other documents that may be relevant to the case. If the court grants the eviction, the landlord may then ask the court to issue a Writ of Restitution. This authorizes the court to send a bailiff out to the property to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit. The bailiff will witness the changing of the locks on the unit and will inventory any tenant belongings left behind. The landlord cannot hold the tenant's belongings in lieu of rent. The court recommends that the landlord provide for storage of the property in a garage, attic or through a storage company for a reasonable length of time. (Generally thirty days.)
Eviction: Money Damages, the Second Cause
A second hearing will be scheduled about a month after the eviction action is initially filed. This "second cause of action hearing" is set to determine what monies are owed by the tenant to the landlord. The tenant may answer the complaint within 28 days of receiving the complaint in the mail. Failure to file an answer within the 28 day time limit will result in a Default Judgment against the tenant. A Default Judgment will prevent the tenant from later objecting to the amount of damages the Court may award to the landlord. The tenant has the right to counterclaim for money damages; to deny the landlord's charges; and/or assert a reduction in value of the rental unit. The tenant has the right to have these costs offset against any security deposit that is being held by the landlord. Not all cases will include a "second cause" for money damages. If there is only a claim for eviction, the case will be terminated until the landlord recovers a money judgment against the tenant or the case is dismissed through settlement or court action. The tenant, therefore, must notify the Clerk of Courts in writing of his or her new address. Failure to leave a written forwarding address with the Clerk may result in your not receiving notice of the hearing on a "second cause."
Self-help Evictions are Illegal. A landlord can only legally regain the use of the premises by properly filing for and obtaining judgment for an eviction, and then requesting that the Court issue a Writ of Restitution. The COURT will then send a bailiff out to the premises to oversee the changing of the locks on the unit. Whether or not a tenant's right to continued use of the premises has ended, a landlord may not shutoff utilities, change locks or seize a tenant's personal property. (ORC section 5321.15) Even if a court has held for an eviction, the landlord must allow the bailiff to remove the tenant from the premises. If a landlord does any of the above, the tenant may contact an attorney and seek immediate action from the court. The landlord will be liable for all actual damages to the tenant and for any reasonable attorney's fees.