A landlord can evict a tenant in Ohio for not paying rent or violating the lease, among other reasons. Before evicting the tenant, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant notice of the reason for the end of the tenancy, and give the tenant a deadline for the end of the tenancy. Once the deadline has passed, if the tenant hasn't taken the necessary steps to avoid termination, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Different types of notices and procedures are required for different situations. Here are the rules and procedures landlords must follow when evicting a tenant in Ohio.
When a landlord wants to terminate a tenancy before the lease term has ended, the landlord must have legal cause (a valid reason). The most common reasons to evict a tenant are failure to pay rent and violation of the lease or rental agreement. However, landlords can also evict tenants for using, selling, or manufacturing illegal drugs at the rental unit.
In all of these situations, the landlord must give the tenant an unconditional three-day notice to quit (leave the rental). The notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has three days to move out of the rental unit, and if they don't move out by the deadline, the landlord will file an eviction lawsuit (also called a "forcible detainer" lawsuit). Ohio law requires that the notice contain the following language:
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.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 1923.02, 1923.04 (2022).)
When a landlord doesn't have legal cause to evict a tenant, the landlord must wait until the end of the lease term before expecting the tenant to move. Usually, a landlord in this situation doesn't have to give the tenant notice that the lease won't be renewed. However, if the lease or rental agreement states that the landlord will give notice, the landlord must perform the requirements of the lease.
To end a month-to-month tenancy, a landlord must give a tenant at least a 30-day written notice to move. With a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord isn't required to have a reason for ending the tenancy—they only need to give the tenant proper notice.
The notice must state the date by which the tenant must be out of the rental unit. If the tenant doesn't move out by the end of the 30-day period, then the landlord can file an eviction action against the tenant. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5321.17 (2022).)
With a fixed-term tenancy, if the landlord doesn't have cause to end the tenancy early, they must wait until the lease term is over to end the tenancy. In this case, the landlord only needs to give the tenant notice to move when the lease specifically requires it. Otherwise, the landlord can expect the tenant to move out by the end of the term, unless the tenant has expressed a desire to renew the lease or rental agreement and stay longer.
Although a landlord might think an eviction is justified, the tenant might feel differently. Tenants always have the right to fight the eviction in court. The tenant could have several potential defenses, including the landlord not maintaining the rental unit or discriminating against the tenant. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Ohio has more information on this topic.
It is never okay for a landlord to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant doesn't move out after receiving written notice to move, the landlord's only legal option is to file an eviction lawsuit. Even if the landlord is successful and wins the lawsuit, only a sheriff or constable is authorized to actually evict the tenant.
The landlord may find personal property left in the rental unit or on the premises after the tenant moves out of the rental unit. Most states have laws about how the landlord should handle abandoned personal property; however, Ohio does not. This doesn't mean that the landlord can just dispose of the property, though. The landlord should still take reasonable steps to inform the tenant of the property and give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property, then the landlord can dispose of it. Handling a Tenant's Abandoned Property in Ohio has more information on this topic.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Ohio law when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction might not be valid. Although these rules and procedures might seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, with the end result being that the tenant has lost their home. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new place to live.