If you have come to the point where you need to evict a residential tenant from a property you own there are very specific steps that you need followed under Ohio law.

There are two primary reasons our clients decide to evict a tenant:
1) Failure to pay the rent, or
2) Violation of some term of the lease or other problem (such as damaging the property).

In either scenario the first step of the eviction process requires notifying the tenant that you intend to evict them. Generally, if there is a lease and the tenant has failed to pay the rent, you must provide them a 3-day notice to vacate the premises. If there is no lease and the tenant is paying the rent monthly, or if there is a lease and you are seeking to evict them for a “material violation,” you must provide them a 30-day notice to vacate the premises. In either case, the notice must inform the tenant that if they do not vacate the premises in the specified time frame that an eviction action will be brought against them, by including the following:

“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.”

While you are waiting for the tenant to vacate the premises, you should not accept any rent for future use of the property, as this may constitutes a waiver of the original notice and may require you to start the eviction process over. Technically, you are permitted to accept past due rent for the time period the tenant has already occupied the property, however, we recommend to our clients that they do not accept any payments froma tenant once they have been given notice.

In an ideal world your tenant will vacate the premises within the timeframe provided in the notice and that will be the end of it. Unfortunately, that usually isn’t the case. If the tenant does not voluntarily leave the premises, you will need to file an eviction complaint (in Ohio, the technical term is Forcible Entry and Detainer) seeking a return of the property and monetary damages for back rent and any other damages to the property.

Once the eviction complaint is filed the Court will schedule an eviction hearing that will usually take place within three weeks of filing the complaint. At the hearing, assuming the tenant does not have any defenses to the eviction complaint, the court typically orders the tenant to vacate the premises.

A word of caution, it is never appropriate for a landlord to take the removal of a tenant into their own hands. Do not remove their property, turn off the utilities or change the locks. If the tenant fails to vacate the premises as ordered by the court, you will need to contact the court to schedule a “set-out” where the Sheriff will supervise the tenant’s removal. Our firm regularly helps landlords navigate the eviction process. If you have questions or need our assistance, please do not hesitate to call us (513) 985-2500.

Paul Kellogg is an attorney in Cincinnati with the Phillips Law Firm, Inc. Paul’s practice focuses on providing comprehensive estate planning and probate services to families and business owners, as well as serving as outside general counsel to entrepreneurs, real estate investors and businesses where he provides guidance and advice on a wide variety of transactions and disputes. He can be reached at 513-985-2500 or via email at [email protected]. Please explore Paul’s other articles on estate planning, real estate and business on the Phillips Law Firm Blog page.

The article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone contemplating taking legal action is urged to obtain proper legal advice from an attorney licensed in your particular jurisdiction.