As a property owner who hasn’t heard the countless stories about nightmare tenants? They quit paying rent and continue to live “rent free” for several months OR the story about tenants and the excessively long eviction process, damages etc? My intention with this post is to give a general outline of what you can realistically expect with an eviction in Ohio…..Important to point out, I’m not an attorney and didn’t attend law school. (much to the dismay of my parents, wife etc.) My knowledge and experience is based on 15+ years working in the real estate/property management field as an Ohio licensed Realtor.
Among the most difficult items a landlord deals with is the eviction of a tenant. Regardless of how cold hearted the landlord may seem about the eviction, it is a difficult decision to make. Remember, this is an investment and you must consider maintaining the revenue stream while still protecting the investment.
The decision to evict is mediated by the tenants actions, or lack of action. Excessive noise or property damage and failure to pay rent are just a few of the reasons a landlord may choose to terminate a tenancy relationship. The eviction is usually used as a last resort by the landlord to safeguard the investment and income in from a rental property.
Landlords often seek alternatives to prevent an eviction, as it can be costly and time consuming. The worst mistake a landlord can make is to accept excuses from tenants and allow late or missed rent payments. Tenants will generally push as far as the landlord allows.
The best way to protect against evictions and problem tenants is to do your homework. Make sure that you check a tenants credit and criminal background thoroughly as well as rental histories and of course verifying income. If you take precautions, the need to evict tenants should be low. However, in the event that an eviction is necessary here are the steps:
1. Self Help Evictions Prohibited:
You may not force your tenants to move out by changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or removing tenant belongings from the rental property. This is called a “self-help eviction” and it is illegal. In most situations, the tenant may be able to collect monetary damages from you should you refuse them access to the property or their possessions.
2. Notice of Termination (30 Day Notice):
Depending on the reason for the eviction, you may be required to give the tenant a Notice of Termination. A thirty day notice is required if when terminating a month-to-month lease agreement or if you are evicting a tenant for violating one of the duties set forth in the Ohio Landlord and Tenant Law (such as damaging the property). If you are evicting a tenant for violating tenant duties under the law, they have 30 days to correct the problem. If the tenant corrects the problem, you no longer have the right to evict them.
3. Notice to Leave the Premises (3 Day Notice):
If you have valid grounds to evict a tenant and have provided them with the correct termination notice, then you may serve them with a Notice to Leave the Premises. This is also known as a Notice to Vacate. If the tenant is being evicted for nonpayment of rent or for breach of a term of their lease agreement this is not contained in the Ohio Landlord and Tenant Law (such as violating a no-pet provision), this is the only notice required.
There are many requirements for this notice:
The notice must be in writing and it must be signed by or otherwise include the name of the party who will later file the eviction action (landlord, agent, etc.)
It must be sent by certified mail, delivered to the tenant in person or left at the rental property.
It must contain the following language printed or written in a conspicuous manner: You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action 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.
If the tenant does not vacate within the three day period you CANNOT take an action to remove them at this point. The three day requirement simply means that the landlord cannot file the eviction action until three days after the tenant has been served with the Notice to Leave.
If the tenant is being removed for failure to pay rent and offers to make payment of future rent (the next month’s rent) and you accept this offer, or accept payment you can not go ahead with the eviction action.
4. Eviction Lawsuit:
At any-time preceding the 3 days provided in the Notice to Vacate you’ll have to go to the Municipal Court and file an eviction lawsuit. Generally, an eviction hearing is scheduled for a date in the following 2-3 weeks.
In the meantime the tenant will receive a copy of a “summons in Action for Forcible Entry and Detainer” and a “complaint” which will give the reasons for the eviction from the court.
You may have to take the day off from work and attend the hearing. If you are late or do not show up, a default judgment may be entered in favor of the tenant. You will also want to bring any and all evidence you can, and if possible witnesses who can collaborate your story. If the magistrate agrees with you that a legal reason to evict the tenant exists, she/he will order that the tenant be evicted. If the magistrate decides that there is not a good reason to evict, the tenant may remain in the rental unit, but this does not dismiss any other claims you have against them. The tenant may still need to come into court to deal with an unpaid rent or damage claim. (second cause)
6. Eviction Notice:
If the court finds that the landlord has the right to evict the tenant, she/he will have to move. The bailiff will notify the tenant when the tenant must be out of the unit. In Hamilton County, tenants are generally given 5-7 days to move.
Worst case scenario, If the tenant still does not move out within the allotted time, the bailiff or deputy sheriff AND owner/agent will have to physically move them out, secure the property and place tenant possessions on the curb. (another potential day off from work for you) An eviction can be confusing, potentially expensive and quickly turn into a bad part time job. Just one of the many related pitfalls of self management and evictions.
Real Property Management offers full service property management to individual owners, investors as well as builders and development groups. Including leasing, management and yes, evictions. In some cases FREE evictions. For more information or to discuss your individual needs, feel free to contact me directly at 866-500-6200.
DISCLAIMER. Nope, I’m not an attorney, this outline is provided for general information and specifically applies to The State of Ohio.