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Ohio eviction process

Last updated: May 15, 2017

What’s the deal with evictions in Ohio?

From soup to nuts, most residential Ohio evictions take about a month, even if the tenant appeals and loses.

Ohio allows landlords to terminate a tenancy for non-payment of rent with an unconditional quit notice. This means that they are under no legal obligation to extend a chance to pay rent late via a notice to pay or quit (though it may well make sense to do so, depending on the circumstances). So if you really want someone out, you don’t have to accept a late rent payment; you can simply decide to proceed with the eviction.

What are some reasons that I can evict a tenant in Ohio?

Ohio eviction law allows landlords or property management companies to evict due to non-payment of rent or violation of the terms of a lease agreement—as long as the breach is material. You cannot go looking for some triviality on a meaningless provision in order to evict a tenant. Otherwise, there’s no specific Ohio statue on lease termination for violation of lease provisions.

You can also evict if you have “reasonable cause” to believe that your tenants are using, selling, or manufacturing illegal drugs on the premises. You don’t have to wait until there is an arrest, indictment, or conviction.

Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant in Ohio?

You cannot discriminate against a protected class under federal or state law. These protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Familial status (e.g., having children)
  • Disability

In addition to protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act, Ohio prohibits housing discrimination based on a tenant’s family’s place of origin (even if they’re from Michigan!).

You cannot retaliate against a tenant for filing a housing complaint against you, such as a discrimination claim, or for joining or creating a tenants’ union.

You may not be able to evict immediately if the tenant has recently entered active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, due to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. The law requires a three-month delay in non-payment evictions, unless a judge rules that the orders to active duty do not materially affect the service member’s ability to pay rent as agreed. The SSCRA does not apply to evictions for other material breaches of a lease agreement, however; or if the monthly rent is over a certain amount, adjusted for inflation each year. As of 2017, that amount is $3,584.99.

You may also not be able to evict for nonpayment if the tenant has followed certain specific procedures to withhold payment pending repairs to the property.

What is the Ohio eviction process normally like?

All non-payment of rent eviction proceedings in Ohio begin with a formal 3-day notification called a “Notice to Leave Premises.” You need to send this by certified mail, return receipt requested, or in person.

Under Ohio law, your notice must include these words:

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.

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In Ohio, the 3-day notice refers to business days. Weekends and legal holidays don’t count against the tenant. It also doesn’t include the day of the notice itself.

Note: Certain situations, including termination of month-to-month arrangements, require 30 days’ notice.

After you provide the 3-day notice and have waited 3 business days, you can then proceed by filing for an eviction in the county or township where your property is located. You’ll pay a filing fee, and in addition, you’ll generally pay to have court documents formally served to the tenant by a constable or sheriff’s deputy. This notice formally informs them that they are the defendants in a lawsuit, and gives them a time and date to show up in court to defend themselves. If they don’t respond or show up, you will generally receive a default judgment.

Ohio courts will usually grant tenants a one-week continuance or delay of their hearing on request, usually to arrange legal representation. At that point, you can file for a writ of restitution with the court. County officials will post the “red tag” on the property within 2 days of the issuance of the writ; and from that point, the tenant has 5 days to vacate. The 5 days includes holidays and weekends this time.

If the tenant is still there after 5 days, the next step for the landlord is to call the bailiff and request a “set out.” This is when court officials or the sheriff’s department sends a law enforcement officer to the property to force the tenant out. Set-outs can usually be scheduled within 2-4 days of the landlord’s request. Expect to pay a fee for a set-out, which varies by county.

On the day of the set-out, plan to have at least 4 people present to move items out. You’ll need to cover them with a tarp if it’s raining and take other reasonable measures to protect the (former) tenant’s property; so plan on having some trash bags and boxes handy as well.

Warning: Don’t try to engage in ‘self-serve’ eviction techniques like shutting off the power or changing the locks. You cannot seize the tenant’s property. You cannot interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property, even during the eviction proceeding, until you’ve received a writ of possession from the court and take possession under the supervision of law enforcement. If you short-circuit the process, you could be sued for damages.

Where can I learn more about the Ohio eviction process?  

The Ohio State Code on Eviction

Ohio Legal Services

Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law: What You Should Know

More Property Laws

Disclaimer: The materials on this database provide general information related to the law and are intended to provide a layman’s summary of the law. The information provided does not constitute legal advice and the manager of this database is not a law firm. These materials are intended, but cannot be promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date. All of the information offered are intended for general informational purposes only. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained on this database without first seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.

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