The eviction process in Cleveland can be very challenging compared to surrounding cities.
Let's discuss what’s required to file eviction in Cleveland, Ohio along with some helpful tips if you ever have to file.
My tenant has not paid rent. Do I have to file an eviction through Court?
Yes. In Ohio, a landlord of residential premises cannot physically remove the tenant from the premises,terminate utilities, or change the locks to encourage a tenant to move from the premises. This is called“self-help,” and is illegal in Ohio. A landlord must file a complaint against the tenant, go to court, be granted a judgment, and follow the court’s move out procedure to remove the tenant and the tenant’s property from the premises.
When Can I File for Eviction?
You can file for an eviction whenever the Tenant breaches the lease agreement. The most common reason Landlords file for eviction is for non-payment of rent.
When Should I File for Eviction?
You should file for an eviction when you feel like you’ve exhausted every other alternative and if you have posted the appropriate notices at the property.
For non-payment of rent, you should establish an online collection process that makes multiple attempts to contact and collect from the Tenant.
Once you’ve completed those steps, and you still haven’t received rent, then file. The longer you wait, the more money you will be owed.
Do I Have to Serve a 3-Day Notice?
For non-payment of rent, yes. A Notice to Leave Premises must be posted at the property, or delivered to the tenant in person or sent certified mail. Notice must be given 3 business days before filing.
How Long Does an Eviction Take?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when you file eviction expect a court date to take over a month to schedule. Cuyahoga County Housing Courts have a significant amount of eviction cases to hear since the Stay-at-Home order was lifted.
From the time you file an eviction until your court date, a few things can happen at this point:
Tenant pays in full. Collection by eviction works. A good percentage of Tenants, once an eviction if filed on them, will pay in full. In that case, you can accept the payment and dismiss the case. Courts now interpret acceptance of any payment as a payment agreement and will summarily dismiss your case. Only accept payment in full.
Tenant vacates. This is another common outcome. Instead of waiting around for the inevitable, the Tenant will go ahead and vacate the property. In this case, you can simply request a second hearing for damages.
Tenant fails to appear. In this case, while the Tenant hasn’t yet vacated, they also failed to appear in court. Again, very common. If this happens, the judge will award a default judgment order of possession and set a date for the Tenant to vacate, or the date you are to receive possession. Most judges award possession within 5-7 days of the initial hearing.
Tenant appears. In some cases, the Tenant will appear. In Ohio, at this stage of the eviction, it’s simply an admit or deny scenario. When the Tenant admits that rent is passed due, or you prove that rent is passed due, the judge will award you possession - again usually within 5-7 days. If the Tenant pleads a hardship - sickness, lack of transportation, etc. - the judge may award additional time.
What If The Tenant Fails to Vacate, in Spite of a Court Order?
This happens occasionally, but it’s fairly rare. If the Tenant ignores the court order and refuses to leave, the judge can issue a "forced move" with a court bailiff present. This requires the owner to coordinate a moving service, locksmith and storage facility to store the tenants property. Yes, you read that right.
At the scheduled time, the bailiff will arrive and escort the Tenant out of the property. At that point, the movers move the possessions out and place in storage. The locksmith, obviously, will change locks.
It’s not a pretty scenario but, again, it’s pretty uncommon.
You do not get to keep the personal property as “security” for payment of the back rent. Instead, the moving company acquires a lien on the personal property removed to help insure payment by the Tenant of the moving and storage costs.
How Do I Collect What the Tenant Owes Me?
Once possession is awarded, you will receive a date for a “damages hearing.” This hearing is usually scheduled for several weeks down the road, which should allow you time to re-rent the home and determine exactly what your damages are. At this hearing, you will present your evidence, the Tenant, if they show up, will present theirs and, ultimately, the judge will render a judgment.
Once a judgment is rendered and, assuming you cannot work out a payment arrangement with the Tenant, we suggest sending the judgment to a collection attorney to collect what is owed to you.
If you want to start an eviction, give us a call today or click here for more information.