An Ohio property owner can evict a renter for a number of reasons, including failing to pay rent or violating a lease agreement, but there is a legal process that must be followed.
Landlords cannot take it upon themselves to evict a renter, nor can they evict someone for retaliatory reasons. They must evict a tenant through the court, after which law enforcement will force the tenant to leave if they don’t do so voluntarily.
Ohio Landlord’s Duties to Tenants
An Ohio landlord is responsible to the tenant for:
- Complying with city and state health, building, housing and safety codes affecting the renter’s health and safety.
- Making the necessary repairs to put and keep a property in habitable condition.
- Keeping common areas safe and sanitary.
- Providing receptacles for trash in buildings with at least four units.
- Supplying the tenant with a reasonable amount of running hot water and heat.
- Giving the renter reasonable notice when entering their apartment and entering only at reasonable times.
- Providing the renter with name and contact information of the landlord or agent in writing at the start of their tenancy.
- Keep all fixtures and appliances (when supplied by the owner) and elevators in proper and safe working condition.
The landlord may not harass the renter with unreasonable or repeated demands to enter their unit. If they enter without permission or repeatedly demand to do so, the renter can recover actual damages.
Ohio Tenant’s Duties to Landlords
When living on property that someone else owns, the renter has the responsibility to:
- Keep their unit and the property overall safe and sanitary.
- Keep their unit and the property overall free of garbage and trash.
- Properly operate all fixtures on the property, such as electrical and plumbing.
- Comply with applicable city and state housing, health, building and safety code requirements imposed on renters.
- Allow the property owner or agent to enter the unit for inspection to see what repairs are needed or to make improvements or repairs at reasonable times, if the property or agent has given the tenant reasonable notice.
- Not to negligently or intentionally damage, deface or destroy property or remove any fixtures or appliances owned by the property owner.
- Not behave in a manner that may disturb another tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the property.
Failure to adhere to these responsibilities may allow a property owner to recover damages and attorney fees, terminate the lease, seek eviction of the renter, or get injunctive relief to enter the unit if the tenant denied the landlord reasonable access.
Causes for Evictions in Ohio
Ohio does not allow landlords to evict renters without cause. Notice must be given to the renter before a landlord can begin eviction proceedings. Legal reasons to evict a renter in Ohio include:
- Nonpayment of rent or not paying rent on time: Most renters pay rent on the first of each month, unless their lease states otherwise. It is considered late if it is not paid on the due date.
- Having no lease or the renter's lease has ended: If a renter remains on the property after their lease has ended, a landlord can begin the eviction process. Such tenants can be referred to as holdover tenants or tenants at will.
- Violating the lease: Property owners can evict a renter for violating the lease's terms or not upholding their responsibilities, according to landlord/tenant law.
3-Day Notice to Quit
A renter can receive different types of notices before the eviction process begins. The property owner will issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit for not paying rent.
This notice is given on the first day after the rent is due and lets the renter know that if they do not pay by the end of the third day or move, they face eviction. If the tenant pays rent within that time period, the landlord cannot evict them.
The renter may also get this notice if they engage in illegal activity on the premises. In this instance, the property owner does not not have to allow the renter to resolve the violation.
30-Day Notice to Quit or Comply
If the renter violates their lease, the landlord can issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit or Comply. If they do not fix the violations within 30 days, the landlord can begin the Ohio eviction process. Lease violations include:
- Damage to the unit.
- Having an unauthorized pet.
- Smoking on a nonsmoking property.
If a Renter Is in Violation of Safety Codes
A renter who violates building, health, housing and safety codes can get a 30-Day Notice, which allows them to fix the issue within that time. If they do not, the landlord can evict them. These violations include:
- Maintaining an unsanitary unit.
- Damaging the landlord’s property, such as appliances, plumbing or electric.
- Disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants.
Serving an Eviction Notice to a Renter
The landlord will serve the renter a notice by using one of these methods:
- Hand delivering the notice.
- Mailing a copy through USPS certified mail with return receipt requested.
- Leaving the notice at the renter’s unit.
After the notice period ends with no resolution by the renter who remains on the property and refuses to move out, the landlord can file an eviction complaint in their county or municipal court. It should include:
- Names of the tenant and property owner.
- Address of the rental property.
- Information as to why the tenant should be evicted.
- Date the landlord served the renter with notice.
Filing the Eviction Complaint in Court
After filing the eviction documents in court, the summons and complaint go to a process server or county sheriff to serve the renter. The court clerk can also send these documents to the renter by certified mail. Serving of the summons and complaint usually requires a small fee paid by the property owner.
The number of documents and copies the landlord must provide vary based on the number of tenants in the eviction lawsuit. Before filing, the property owner should contact their local clerk’s office to confirm what they’ll need. For one renter, they’ll need:
- Original summons and complaint, plus two copies.
- Three copies of the notice the landlord served to the renter.
- Three copies of the renter’s lease or rental agreement, if they had one.
- Filing fee payable by cash, check, money order, debit or credit card. (Most Ohio counties have a filing fee of $123, but there may be additional cost if the property owner evicts more than one renter.)
- Proof that service took place.
Serving the Tenant With Summons and Complaint
An Ohio tenant is typically served with the summons and complaint within three business days of the eviction filing in court at least seven days before a hearing takes place. Once service of the documents on the renter has been completed, they may choose to contest or answer the complaint, which they must do in writing within 29 days with the clerk of court.
If a Tenant Contests the Eviction Action
If the renter contests an eviction, they may be required to pay the court clerk the outstanding rent owed until the lawsuit ends. If there is a disagreement over how much that is, the renter can file a motion to seek determination of the amount.
When a tenant contests their eviction, the process will include additional steps and take longer. The renter must have a valid reason or legal defense as to why they should not be evicted and serve the landlord with an answer containing that defense. Valid defenses include:
- Property owner’s execution of self-help eviction before finalizing the legal proceedings.
- Renter already has fixed a curable violation.
- Property owner discriminated against the renter.
- Property owner evicted the renter in a retaliatory fashion.
- Renter did not violate the lease’s terms.
- Renter did not get proper notice from the landlord.
- Property owner did not maintain the rental unit as required by state and federal laws.
- Notice had substantial errors.
Court Hearing and Judgment Process
The landlord must appear for an eviction hearing. If a renter who has been properly served does not show up, the court automatically rules in the property owner’s favor. If the renter does not contest the suit, the eviction process will begin.
In that case, the landlord will file a default motion judgment to obtain a Writ of Execution, a court order determining property entitlement. A court issues the writ after it renders a judgment of possession to allow for the property’s transfer to the owner.
Documents to Bring to the Court Date
The landlord and tenant should bring these documents to the hearing:
- Copies of the lease agreement.
- Notice that the tenant was served.
- Complaint for eviction.
- Evidence or witnesses that help prove the party’s case in court, such as billing statements or photos of damage.
After the Writ of Execution
The writ of execution serves as the renter’s final notice to leave the property before the landlord can begin eviction procedures. It allows time to collect and move their belongings from the unit before a sheriff comes to forcibly evict them. Some Ohio counties post a red tag notice on the property before the eviction.
The landlord pays $35 for the red tag, which a bailiff typically posts at the site within two business days, but this could take longer depending on the time of year.
Removing the Renter and Their Possessions
Once the red tag is posted, the renter has a few days to vacate the property; non-business days count in this instance. Within 10 days from the Writ of Execution, a sheriff will remove the tenant from the property; however, but some counties may evict the tenant in less time.
Ohio doesn’t have any set laws for dealing with a tenant’s belongings after they have been evicted. Some counties allow the owner to remove the tenant's property from the unit, which they may use as a lien for damages or payment.
Illegal and Retaliatory Evictions
Under Ohio law, a landlord cannot conduct a self-help eviction, meaning they cannot forcibly evict a renter by changing the locks, turning off the renter’s utilities or removing their belongings.
A landlord also cannot evict a tenant based on a renter’s legally protected rights, such as complaining to the property owner about an issue with their unit, contacting a government agency regarding problems on the property or joining, organizing or supporting a tenant’s organization or union.
Ohio allows landlords to remove tenants only with a court order. If the renter can prove that the property owner acted illegally or in a retaliatory way when evicting them, the court may require the property owner to pay the renter damages, plus fees.
- Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority: Ohio Tenant Landlord Law
- iProperty Management: Ohio Eviction Process
- Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules: Section 5321.17 Termination of Tenancy
- Franklin County Law Library: Ohio Landlord/Tenant Law: Ohio Laws
- Andrew J. Ruzicho: Post-Eviction Process in Ohio
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.