One of the most difficult things a landlord ever deals with is the eviction of a tenant. Regardless of how cold hearted or callus the landlord may seem about the issue of eviction, it is a very difficult decision to make. The overall need to maintain the revenue stream and the protection of their investment of the property versus the displacement of the tenants living there.
More often the decision to evict is mediated by the tenant’s actions. Excessive noise, property damage, failure to pay the rent are just a few of the reasons that a landlord may choose to terminate a tenancy relationship. Eviction is used as a last resort by the landlord to safeguard their investment and income in a rental property.
Landlords often seek other alternatives to prevent eviction, as it can be costly. Once the eviction process has begun the tenant has little invested in the upkeep of the property. Therefore there tends to be a greater potential for property damage and/or disruption to the other tenants in the complex. If the tenant refuses to leave then there is the costly process navigating the legal channels available to you as a landlord.
The best way to protect against eviction and problem tenants is to do your homework. Make sure that you check new tenants credit and rental histories thoroughly. Also use your own judgment by interviewing the potential tenants. If you take precautions the need to evict tenants should be rare, however, in the event that an eviction becomes necessary here are the necessary steps:
1. Self Help Evictions Prohibited:
You may not attempt to force your tenants to move out by using tactics such as changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or removing their belongings from your rental property. This is called a “self-help eviction” and it is illegal. In some situations, your 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 Notice of Termination. A thirty day notice of termination is required if you are 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 their 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 required termination notice, then you may serve them with a Notice to Leave the Premises. This is also known as an Eviction Notice or 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 that you are required to provide.
There are many requirements for this notice:
- This 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.
- The notice is not required to tell the tenant why they are being asked to leave, and it does not have to tell them when they must leave.
If the tenant does not vacate within the three day period you CANNOT take any 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 the tenant has been served with the Notice to Leave the Premises.
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, you can not go ahead with the eviction action.
4. Eviction Lawsuit:
At anytime proceeding the 3 days provided in the Notice to Vacate you can go to the local Municipal Court and file an eviction lawsuit. Generally, an eviction hearing is scheduled for a date within the following 2 weeks.
In the meantime the tenant will receive from the court a copy of a “summons in Action for Forcible Entry and Detainer” and a “complaint” which will give the reasons for the eviction.
You must attend the hearing and arrive on time. If you are late or do not show up at all a default judgment may be entered in favor of the tenant. You will 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, s/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 dismiess any other claims you the landlord has against them. The tenant may still need to come into court to deal with an unpaid rent or damage claim.
6. Red Tag (Eviction Notice):
If the court finds that the landlord has the right to evict the tenant, s/he will have to move. The door of the property the tenant was renting will be “red tagged” by the bailiff’s office. This tag will state the date when the tenant must be out of the unit. In Franklin County, tenants are given 5 days to move after the tagging. Usually there will be a couple of days before the bailiff tags the door and thus the tenant usually has a couple of extra days to vacate.
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within the allotted time, the bailiff or deputy sheriff will move them out and place their property on the street. Only the bailiff can take the tenant’s belongings out of the rental unit.
We offer a complete line of Property Management Services serving individuals, institutional investors, as well as builders and development groups, delivering to each the dependability, luxury and time-honored services they have come to know and expect from our name and reputation. For more information on our Management Services you are invited to call us at 614.332.6984.
For additional information on the Ohio Eviction process, or for assistance evicting a tenant from a property located in Ohio we recommend Ohio Attorney Michael Cox of the Cox Law Office, 614.562.0945.