One of the most common reasons a tenant is evicted in Ohio is for failing to pay rent. A landlord can take steps toward eviction as soon as a tenant fails to pay rent when it is due.
Rent is generally due on the first day of the month, regardless of whether the first is a weekend or holiday. If a tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, the landlord is not required to give the tenant any kind of a grace period. This means the landlord can take steps toward eviction as soon as rent is late.
Keep in mind that the landlord and the tenant can agree to different terms regarding the rent due dates, but those terms must be in writing in the lease. For example, the landlord and tenant could agree that although rent is due on the first of the month, the tenant will have three additional days before the landlord will charge a late fee or take steps toward eviction. Whatever the agreement, the landlord and tenant are both obligated to follow the terms of the lease.
After a tenant fails to pay rent, the first step in the Ohio eviction process is for a landlord to give the tenant a three-day notice, informing the tenant that he or she has three days to move out of the rental unit. The landlord is not obligated to accept rent payments once the tenant has received the three-day notice. This means that even if the tenant pays the landlord rent but does not move out of the rental unit, the landlord is not required to accept the rent and can still proceed with the eviction. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Ohio Revised Code § 1923.02(A)(9)).
To be valid, the three-day notice must be written and include the following information:
The following statement must also be on the notice, and it must be conspicuous: "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." In Cleveland, the print must be twice as large as the rest of the notice and in bold type.
A landlord has three options when giving the three-day notice to the tenant:
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within the three-day period, then the landlord can file a complaint with the municipal court or housing court of the county or township where the rental unit is located. The complaint must detail the reason for the eviction (see Ohio Revised Code § 1923.05). The court will assign a date and time for a hearing, and the tenant will receive a copy of all the paperwork filed with the court. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both the landlord and the tenant and make a decision regarding the eviction. If the landlord is successful, the landlord will receive a writ of restitution, and the tenant will be required to move out of the premises by a certain date.
A sample complaint can be found online at the Rocky River Municipal Court.
The only way a landlord can legally evict a tenant is by successfully winning an eviction lawsuit. It is unlawful for a landlord to force a tenant out of the rental unit by changing the locks on the doors or shutting off the utilities. This is often referred to as a “self-help” eviction, and if the landlord tries to do this to the tenant, the tenant can sue the landlord for damages (see Ohio Revised Code § 5321.15). For more information on “self-help” evictions, see the Nolo article Illegal Eviction Procedures in Ohio.
Legal aid organizations, such as Ohio Legal Services, can provide further information on evictions and landlord-tenant relations. Some of the municipal courts and housing courts also provide online information for evictions and the legal process, such as the Rocky River Municipal Court and the Cleveland Housing Court.
Nolo also has other articles on landlord-tenant relations in Ohio, including tenant defenses to evictions in Ohio. The Ohio charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo website also have useful information.