Cleveland Tenants Organization realizes that evictions are a part of landlording. We have never met a landlord who enjoys this process, but it is imperative that landlords work within the law to follow the process, not only for your tenants’ sake but to assist you as a landlord in avoiding costly liabilities.
The eviction process is likely to last no more than 30 days from start to finish, depending on when you as the landlord actually files the eviction with the clerk of courts.
Your first obligation as the landlord is to deliver a 3-day notice to the tenant.
The 3-day notice is nuanced in Ohio as it includes a paragraph with 14-pt font, as pictured here:
CTO encourages landlords to purchase this notice from Ohio Legal Blank as other “eviction kits” that can be purchased at office supply stores are nationally manufactured and often do not have the correct language or font required by Ohio law.
This can be either hand-delivered or adhered to the front door. The 3-day notice is meant to provide time for the tenant to move after three business days, which can avoid court and avoid an eviction appearing on a credit record. However, it is usually very difficult to move a household in three business days. Thus, if the tenant has not vacated after three business days, you as the landlord are then eligible to file the eviction in municipal court on the 4thbusiness day. Once the eviction is filed in court, the court will send out a summons for both the tenant and the landlord to appear in court. This date is usually 7-10 days from the date of the filing. You can also file what is known as a second cause aka second claim. This is your chance to recoup back rent and/or damages from the tenant. The second cause hearing will be a separate hearing scheduled after the eviction hearing which is known as a first cause hearing.
At the first cause hearing for the eviction, the municipal judge or magistrate will hear from both the landlord and the tenant. Usually, the judge or magistrate will ask the tenant if proper legal notice was given (the 3-day notice). Next, the judge or magistrate will consider the reason for the eviction being filed. If the judge or magistrate finds in favor of the landlord, then the eviction will be granted and the tenant will most likely be given a “move out date”. This is the date in which the tenant must move out or else the bailiff from the respective city will remove the belongings. As the landlord, you must file (ask TONY) this motion to be granted a move out date.
If the eviction takes place in the City of Cleveland and the tenant is still in the property after the move out date, the city bailiffs with the landlord present will remove the belongings and place the belongings at the tree lawn for waste collection. If the eviction takes place in a suburban community of Cuyahoga County, the landlord will be responsible for placing the tenant’s belongings in safe, dry storage until it can be determined if the tenant has abandon the property. Depending on the city, this can be at the tenant’s expense.
Your tenant still owes rent for every day they have access to the unit until they turn their keys in, even if an eviction has been filed. If you feel your issue with your tenant can be overcome, mediation might be a viable option for you instead of an eviction. Contact us if you have questions.
As a landlord, you cannot force a tenant from the premises through any means, other than legally bringing an eviction action. You cannot threaten to lock your tenant out, take property, shut-off utilities or otherwise preclude your tenant the use of the dwelling unit you are renting.
A “self-help eviction” is an eviction where the landlord acts outside of the law to make the condition of property uninhabitable for the tenant. This can include changing the locks without the tenant’s knowledge (outside of a court order), taking the door off the hinges of the property, cutting off water, gas, or electricity to the property, or any other mechanism that causes the tenant to vacate outside of a lawful eviction action. All of these actions can be called “self-help eviction”, and they are never legal under any circumstances.
Even if your tenant is behind in rent, staying beyond the term of his/her rental agreement or violating a tenant obligation, you as the landlord must proceed with a notice to correct conditions or an eviction action. You do not have the right to forego the eviction proceeding just because the tenant is in breach of his/her obligation. The applicable court must make the determination if an eviction is warranted, not the landlord.
For over forty years, the Cleveland Tenants Organization has pursued its mission to educate tenants and landlords, empower the community, and advocate for affordable, fair, and quality rental housing. Throughout our history we have made an incredible impact for tens of thousands of renters in Northeast Ohio, preventing homelessness, resolving disputes between tenants and landlords, advocating for the needs of low to moderate income tenants, informing citizens of their rights and responsibilities in rental housing, and empowering tenants individually and collectively to represent themselves and their interests.
While the need in our community is greater than ever, it is with deep sadness that the CTO board of directors voted to suspend CTO's operations. Over the past decade many of our board members have watched financial support for CTO slowly decline to the point where the organization became no longer sustainable, leaving us no choice but to lay off our remaining staff.
We are grateful that tenants in Northeast Ohio will continue to have access to a rental information hotline, as CTO's rental information line will be covered by the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland effective February 5, 2018. Renters can call 216-861- 5955 during business hours if they need information about their rights and responsibilities. CTO's website will also be maintained as a resource by Legal Aid.
CTO's board remains committed to the organization's mission, and over the coming months will be exploring ways to maintain different pieces of CTO's core service provision by partnering with other agencies in our community.