How to Stop Evictions in Ohio

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Ohio landlords can evict tenants for any number of reasons, including nonpayment of rent, violating other lease terms, breaking the law or refusing to vacate the premises upon lease termination. The Ohio Revised Code controls eviction rules and the process.

The Ohio Eviction Timeline: Notice to Quit

The Ohio eviction process begins when a landlord delivers to a tenant a three-day or a 30-day notice to "quit" the premises and move out. As the names imply, the first gives the tenant just three days to relocate, while the latter gives them 30 days. Thirty-day notices are used when a lease is month-to-month.

Three-day notices may only be used when a tenant has failed to pay rent or for other lease violations. These notices are "unconditional." Landlords are permitted to file for eviction after this time has passed if the tenant remains in residence. They aren't required to accept rent or the tenant’s remedy for another lease violation after issuing this notice, but they must wait three days after issuance before moving forward with an eviction.

The “Forcible Entry and Detainer” Lawsuit

Eviction doesn’t happen immediately or automatically. The landlord must file an eviction proceeding with the court, also called a “forcible entry and detainer” lawsuit, if the tenant hasn't voluntarily moved out before the applicable time has expired.

It might be as little as a week before the case can be heard by a judge, or it can take a month or more, depending on the county. Two to three weeks is common.

A “writ of restitution” will be posted at the property if the landlord wins the case and the judge orders eviction. This gives the tenant five days to voluntarily vacate before the sheriff will arrive to forcibly remove him from the property.

Ohio Eviction Laws With No Lease

Ohio law refers to tenants without a lease as “at-will” tenants, and evicting them also requires a 30-day notice. The landlord can begin an eviction action without cause once this time period expires.

Illegal Eviction in Ohio

A landlord must carefully follow all rules and procedures set out by the Ohio Revised Code when evicting a tenant. It’s illegal under Ohio law for a landlord to effectively coerce a tenant into leaving by cutting off utilities or locking them out of the premises. These types of actions are commonly referred to as “self-help” actions, and tenants can sue a landlord for taking them, possibly recovering monetary damages.

An Ohio tenant also can't be evicted for complaining to the landlord or to a government agency about the premises or about the landlord's failure to meet legal obligations. Tenants can’t be evicted for involvement with a tenants’ union, even if they personally create the union.

Tenants can fight evictions if any of these actions have occurred, and if proven, the court will likely not allow the eviction.

Other Possible Eviction Defenses

Other possible defenses include establishing that the landlord didn’t follow all legal requirements in filing for the eviction such as by not properly serving a three-day notice. The case would be thrown out of court and the landlord would have to start all over again, giving the tenant a little more time to move on.

Another option is negotiating, either through a third-party mediator or perhaps by just talking with the landlord, before the matter heads to court. Eviction can be a costly, stressful and time-consuming process for everyone involved, so a landlord might agree to some other solution.

Stop an Eviction by Appearing in Court

A tenant’s best option to avoid eviction is to appear in court for the eviction hearing on the date specified in the complaint. She can respond in writing by filing an answer to the complaint with the court, and she can also present her case to the judge at the hearing.

Failing to respond to the complaint or appear in court is pretty much the same as a tenant saying he doesn’t have a defense. The eviction will almost certainly be approved by the judge, and the tenant could be responsible for the landlord’s court costs and possibly attorneys' fees, in addition to any delinquent rent.