Ohio eviction laws follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that could be exploited by the tenant.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Failure to comply with rent deadlines
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they are required to give the tenant an official written 3-Day Notice to Pay.
If rent is paid within those 3 days, then the filing for eviction does not continue. If they are unable to pay, the landlord reserves the right to continue filing for eviction.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental lease agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord has to issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental property
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the violations are not resolved or they remain on the property, then the landlord may continue with the eviction.
Landlords are not legally obligated to allow the tenant to resolve the violation before presenting them with the notice to quit.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord has to issue an official written 3-Day Notice to Quit.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
- Being a registered sex offender, and the property is within 1,000 feet of a daycare or school
The above also applies if a guest or co-resident living with the tenant commits the illegal acts.
Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed.
4. Material health or safety violation
Ohio law takes into account the health, building, safety, and housing codes. If a tenant violates any of these codes, the landlord has to issue a 30-Day Notice to Comply to allow the tenant time to fix the problem.
Violations under this could include:
- Not throwing out the trash for long periods of time, inviting bugs and/or rodents.
- Damaging the electrical wiring of a unit
- Ruining the plumbing fixtures of a unit
The tenant has to finish repairs or fix the problem by the end of 30 days. If they are unable to do so, the landlord may continue filing for eviction.
5. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Ohio, landlords cannot evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. Enough notice time must have been allowed before filing for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
It takes about 3 to 30 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit. This depends on the reason for eviction and the lease agreement.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
The summons is issued within 3 days from the day the complaint is filed if the eviction was related to illegal activity. For other types of eviction processes, it’s at least 7 days before the hearing.
A Clerk of Court serves the documents via regular mail, but the landlord has to choose another way to serve the documents. There are several methods available:
- If they are in County Court: The sheriff delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- If they are in Municipal Court: The bailiff delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- For either court: A designated process server delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 7-30 days before the eviction hearing to prepare.
Either the landlord or the tenant can request for a postponement of the hearing (called a continuance) for a maximum of 8 days.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 7-23 days before the hearing is scheduled.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
If the landlord does not win, they can still appeal within 5 days post-judgment for reconsideration.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Ohio, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing.
Although optional, tenants can file a written reply to the Complaint. If they file it during the hearing, either side may request for a postponement.
The landlord needs to support the claim with evidence and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
Eviction hearings are scheduled 7 to 30 days after the complaint was filed.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Execution is issued a few hours to a few days.
The Writ of Execution gives the tenant a maximum of 10 days to vacate the property. The average is usually 5-7 days and will depend on their reason for eviction.
Posting a Writ of Execution on the property can be called “red-tagging” a property.
2. Move out process
The sheriff, police officer, constable, or bailiff executes the Writ. Once the Writ is given to the tenant and/or pasted on the entrance to the rental unit, the tenant has to move out.
Just because a tenant has a maximum of 10 days to move out, that does not mean they can be given that length of time to vacate the property. It will depend on the availability of the sheriff or constable.
Only the sheriff is allowed to remove the tenant by force.
The state of Ohio does not specify what to do with a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them. After the timeframe has passed, the tenant’s property may be sold or disposed of.
Any money earned by the landlord for the tenant’s belongings can be used to cover unpaid rent and any other outstanding costs.
Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The tenants have a few days to 10 days upon judgment being passed in favor of the landlord to vacate the property.
Ohio Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
On average, it would take anywhere between 5 weeks to 8 weeks for a complete eviction process.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is most useful when you are able to scan every important document.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment can become very important.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also, show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, letter, or mail, it can be very beneficial to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, you can be confident that this will be enough to continue with the eviction process.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Ohio?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of Ohio, tenants can sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- Actual damages
- Attorney’s fees
Which eviction methods are illegal in Ohio?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Ohio?
According to Ohio Civil Code, you may be liable for the Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay in the property for the time being.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other laws should I be aware of in Ohio?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Ohio. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.
- eForms: Ohio Eviction Notice Forms
- Greater Ohio Policy Center: COVID-19 Relief Programs in Ohio
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: Ohio Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Ohio: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Ruzicho Law: Post-Eviction Process in Ohio