About the Eviction Process
There is only one way to perform an eviction in the State of Ohio, and that is by going through the court system. Any attempt to force a tenant out without going to court is considered a "constructive eviction" and is illegal. Some examples of constructive eviction are:
Removal of tenant's belongings without court order
Changing of the locks
Utility shutoff by landlord
Landlords who attempt a constructive eviction can be sued for damages and attorney fees caused by the attempt.
To begin an eviction, the landlord must issue the tenant a three-day notice. The notice must contain the following words in large type:
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 three-day notice must be delivered either in person, by certified mail, or by posting the notice at the apartment, usually on the door. Any mistake in working or delivery of this notice can be used as a defense for the eviction.
After four days, the landlord may file a "forcible entry and detainer" action with the court that has jurisdiction in the area. The first cause of action asks the court to remove the tenant and the tenant's belongings. A filing fee is required. The second cause of action asks the court to award the landlord money for unpaid rent or damages.
A hearing on the first cause of action will be scheduled quickly, usually within ten days to two weeks. If the landlord prevails at the first cause hearing the court may order an immediate writ of restitution. If so, the landlord may post the costs for the writ on the same day. The second cause will be heard at a later date. Be aware that you may have to attend a second cause hearing if the landlord sues for money.
The bailiff or Sheriff will serve the writ of execution as quickly as is administratively possible. If the defendant does not voluntarily vacate then the landlord may arrange a date and time with the bailiff or Sheriff to have locks charged. Thereafter, the landlord may remove the defendant's possessions from the premises.
If a serious repair problem exists and the landlord has failed to make the repairs after being given notice, you may begin paying your rent into escrow with the court. The court will hold the rent
until the repairs are done. You cannot be evicted for nonpayment while the court is receiving the rent. The rent must be paid on time to the court.
Possible Defense to Eviction
The landlord, by filing for eviction, is making an accusation against the tenant. If the accusation is untrue or unjust, the tenant should prepare a defense for the hearing. The tenant can prepare a written defense explaining to the judge his or her side of the story. Take the answer to court with you and make sure to have a copy for both the judge and the landlord.
A tenant may challenge an eviction in two ways; either by pointing out mistakes in the procedure of the eviction or by defending against the grounds for the eviction. Procedural defenses are defense based on mistakes made by the landlord in serving the notice or in filing the eviction. A defense challenging the grounds of the eviction must directly address the claim that the landlord makes. Your basic purpose in providing a defense is to answer the specific complaint your landlord makes. For more detailed information on filing an answer and/or counterclaim, please consult an attorney.