State Evictions

Ohio Eviction Process

November 8, 2023

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Eviction In Ohio

If you own and rent properties in the state of Ohio, you are responsible for complying with Ohio eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Ohio. 

Ohio’s eviction laws can be found at ORC § 1923 and 5321. 

Eviction Process in Ohio 

  1. Landlord serves a three- to thirty-day eviction notice. 
  1. Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court. 
  1. Court serves tenant a summons. 
  1. Tenant files an answer. 
  1. Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment. 
  1. Tenant gets up to ten days to move out. 
  1. Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant. 

In Ohio, tenants can be evicted for any of the following reasons as per ORC § 5321.03

  • Failing to pay rent 
  • Violating a building, housing, health, or safety code resulting due to the tenant’s (or their guest’s) negligence 
  • Holding over after the lease terminates 
  • Being listed on the state sex offender registry as being convicted or guilty of a sexually oriented or child-victim oriented offense, when the rental is located within 1,000 feet of a school, preschool, day-care, children’s crises care facility, or residential infant care center 
  • Violating the written rental agreement 

Eviction can also occur when the landlord needs to alter, remodel, or demolish the unit to comply with a building, housing, health, or safety code. 

In Ohio, evictions typically have two parts: First and Second “Causes,” or claims. The first cause is for possession, while the second cause is a monetary action for the rent or damages a tenant owes. These cases are part of the same lawsuit, but they are treated like separate cases and may be tried separately. 

It’s also important to note that during any Ohio eviction, the court has the right to order an appropriate government agency to inspect the rental unit for code violations. If any violations are found, entrance to the unit may be forbidden or, if the violations were caused by the tenant, the court may award damages to the landlord (ORC § 1923.15). 

1. Landlord Serves a Three- to Thirty-Day Eviction Notice 

If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve an Ohio eviction notice and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Ohio: 

  • Rent Demand Notice: 3 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than three days after receipt of the notice) (ORC § 1923.04). 
  • Lease Violation Notice (Health or Safety): 30 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates a lease term that materially affects health and safety, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice) (ORC § 5321.11). 
  • Unconditional Notice to Quit (Illegal Drug Activity): 3 days to quit. If the landlord has actual or reasonable knowledge that the tenant engaged in illegal drug activity (as defined by ORC § 2925) on the premises, the landlord may send this notice demanding that the tenant move out within three days. The landlord is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the violation, and it may be sent regardless of whether the tenant has been charged or convicted of a drug-related crime (ORC § 5321.17(C)). 

No matter the cause of the eviction, all notices must include the following statement: “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” (ORC § 1923.04(A)). 

All eviction notices in Ohio must be delivered by either handing a written copy to the tenant in person, sending a copy by certified mail with return receipt requested, or by leaving a copy at the rental unit or usual place of abode (ORC § 1923.04(A)). For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. 

2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court 

The next step of the eviction process in Ohio is filing an action with the court. If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord should file a written Complaint for Eviction and Money Damages with an Ohio County Court, Municipal Court, or Court of Common Pleas (ORC § 1923.01(A)). Here’s what this complaint looks like in Warren County.  

The complaint generally includes: 

  • The names and contact information of both parties 
  • The case number, court, and county 
  • A description of the rental property (address) 
  • The reason or basis for the eviction (e.g., the amount of overdue rent) 
  • The landlord’s signature with the date 

(ORC § 1923.05). 

3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons 

After the landlord files a complaint, the court will issue a summons to be served to the tenant with a copy of the complaint. The summons will state the time and date of the eviction hearing at which the tenant must appear to defend their case, as well as information about the action, the tenant’s rights, and a warning that failure to appear or deposit rent with the court (in certain cases) may result in eviction (ORC § 1923.06(B)). 

For evictions based on illegal drug activity 

The summons must be served within three working days after the complaint is filed, and the hearing will be set for no later than the thirtieth calendar day after the date the summons was served. The tenant is not required to file a written answer and may present any defenses they may have to the eviction at the trial. Additionally, no continuances will be permitted for evictions based on illegal drug activity (ORC § 1923.05). 

For non-drug-related evictions 

The summons must be served at least seven days before the hearing, which will be scheduled at least seven days later. The summons and complaint should be mailed to the tenant’s rental address by ordinary mail, and it should also be served personally by the sheriff of the county or other non-party and/or by leaving a copy with a person of suitable age and discretion found at the premises. If no one can be found, copies may be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises. If the sheriff or another person makes the service, they must return the process to the clerk within five days to prove that the documents were delivered properly. (ORC § 1923.06(A, C)).  

4. Tenant Files an Answer 

Although Ohio tenants aren’t required to file written answers with the court, in actions based on nonpayment, the tenant may make a counterclaim. This claim may be for any amount they may recover under the lease or the law. If they do file a counterclaim, the tenant may be required to pay into court all or part of the past and future due rent. These funds will be distributed to the appropriate party after the judgment is entered (ORC § 1923.061). 

Additionally, either party may request a jury trial or a continuance at this time. The court will not grant a continuance longer than eight days, unless the landlord applies for it and the tenant consents or the tenant applies for it and gives an approved bond to the landlord for the payment of accrued rent (ORC § 1923.08). 

5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment 

On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, they will enter a judgment for the landlord’s restitution of the premises and require the tenant to cover the costs of the lawsuit (ORC § 1923.09(A)). 

6.  Tenant Gets Up to Ten Days to Move Out 

After the judgment has been entered, the landlord can request the court to issue a writ of execution on the judgment (ORC § 1923.13). The writ gives local law enforcement in the county the authority to remove the tenant from the premises. The sheriff is required to enforce the writ and remove the tenant within ten days of receiving it (ORC § 1923.14). This means that after the writ is posted at the rental unit, the tenant will have up to ten days to move out. 

7. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant 

If the tenant has not moved out by the date specified on the writ, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant and restore possession to the landlord.  

The tenant can still appeal the case by filing an appeal with the court. If the tenant does so, obtains a stay of execution, and pays any required bonds into the court, the judge will order the sheriff to restore possession to the tenant and delay all further eviction proceedings until the appeal is decided (ORC § 1923.14(A)). Ohio landlords are not required by law to store the tenant’s personal property for a specific length of time after an eviction. 

Evicting a Squatter in Ohio 

A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Ohio, squatters must have lived in the property for 21 continuous years to invoke Ohio squatters rights and claim right of possession (ORC § 2305.04). Their possession must also be: 

  • Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner 
  • Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property 
  • Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there. 
  • Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.  
  • Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession. 

While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Ohio to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Ohio, you should: 

  1. Call local law enforcement. 
  1. Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter. 
  1. If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer. 
  1. If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office. 
  1. Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Ohio eviction law. 
  1. If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process. 
  1. Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer. 

Ohio Eviction Cost Estimates 

Court fees for evictions in Ohio all vary by county, court, and process server. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.  

Below are examples of average court fees for Ohio counties and courts according to iPropertyManagement. See your city, county, or court’s website for a fee schedule specific to your region. 

Action Approximate Cost (Municipal) Approximate Cost (Common Pleas/County) 
Filing fee $120+ $250+ 
Service of court summons $6+ $25+ 
Writ of execution $60+ $60+ 
Service of writ of execution $6+ $6+ 
Notice of appeal filing fee $100+ $90+ 
Legal fees $500-$10,000 $500-$10,000 
Average locksmith fees $160 $160 
Storage fees for abandoned property Varies Varies 
Tenant turnover costs Varies Varies 

Ohio Eviction Time Estimates 

The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the Ohio eviction process timeline. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.  

Action Duration 
Eviction notice period 3 or 30 days 
Service of summons Within 3 days before the hearing for illegal drug-related evictions; within 7 days for all other evictions 
Eviction hearing  Within 30 calendar days after service of summons for illegal drug-related evictions; within seven days after service for all other evictions 
Maximum continuance 8 days 
Time to quit after writ is posted Up to 10 days 
 Total  5-8 weeks 

Additional Resources 

Conclusion 

The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Ohio laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state. 

Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information. 

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