Many people become Landlords by accident. Perhaps you purchased a home to flip, only to find yourself stuck with the property because of market conditions. Whatever the reason, the Landlord/Tenant Law is vast, and its effects can be devastating to you financially if you are not compliant.
You have essentially two sets of rules regarding tenants: The law as set forth in Ohio Revised Code sections 1923 and 5321. I will focus on section 1923: Forcible Entry and Detainer. This section sets forth the law of evictions.
Evictions can be messy, time-consuming and expensive. Eviction is a last resort, and you want to try to choose your tenants in the best way possible to minimize the necessity of evictions. That being said, some times an eviction is necessary to protect yourself.
There are different grounds you can evict a tenant for. Non-compliance with the lease provisions, violations of the tenant’s duties under the law, and failure to pay rent are the most often used grounds for eviction.
The first step is to determine what grounds you are going to evict upon. Failure to pay rent is the quickest method. If your tenant is in violation of their lease or the law, and also behind on rent, generally the best choice is to evict for non-payment of rent. Non-payment of rent for a non-section 8 tenant requires three-day notice to vacate the premises. Some Counties have specific form notices they want you to use. If your county does not, I recommend using the notice provided by Hamilton County (Cincinnati) as it complies with State Law.
Once you post your notice to vacate, keep in mind that if you accept a payment from the tenant after posting, you will not be able to evict under your original notice. If you accept a payment, you must issue a new three-day notice to vacate for the remaining past due rent.
If, at the expiration of the three days, the tenant is still residing in the unit, you should then file an action for Forcible Entry and Detainer (the fancy way of saying Eviction.) Depending upon your local Court, it could be anywhere from a week to a month or more before your hearing date.
Eviction for non-payment of rent is pretty straight forward. You will go to Court and state that you complied with the three-day notice, that the tenant is behind in rent, and that you still want them evicted. There are very few defenses to non-payment of rent, and this is a reason this method is so desirable. For instance, if you, the Landlord, failed to make necessary repairs after being informed by the tenant, the tenant would need to use the rent deposit/escrow procedure with your local Court. This is where a tenant pays their rent directly to the Court, and the landlord cannot collect that rent until the repairs are made. A tenant cannot simply stop paying. It must be through this Court approved procedure. Therefore, there are very few instances when a tenant can avoid eviction for non-payment of rent.
Once you give your testimony, the Court, if they approve your eviction, will grant a 0, 3, or 7 day Writ of Restitution. The Writ of Restitution gives the property back to you, the Landlord, upon expiration of 0, 3, or 7 days. The 7 day writ is the most common. If upon the expiration of 7 days, the tenant is still residing in the unit, you will schedule a “set out” with the Bailiff. A set out is exactly what it sounds like: you and your employees will physically remove the evicted tenants possessions out of the unit and you can then change the locks.
This procedure must be followed to the letter, as any violation or deviation could force you to start the entire process over. This is why it is so important to have an Attorney for your evictions. The time and money wasted because of mistakes in the eviction procedure can be enormous.
Eviction of a Section 8 (HUD tenant) is essentially the same, but Section 8 tenants get more notice than non Section 8 tenants do.
The procedure is the same for violations of the lease agreement. However, to terminate a lease for some other reason, generally 30 day notice is required.