Law You Can Use
Special Note on Evictions and COVID-19
During this challenging time, each court in Ohio can determine how it wants to handle evictions. For instance, the Franklin County Municipal Court is allowing the filing of new evictions, but instead of setting the possession hearing dates two to three weeks after filing like usual, now all possession hearing dates are set eight weeks out. Other courts, like the Eastern and Western Divisions of the Montgomery County Municipal Court, have made no changes to scheduling possession hearings. The only way to be sure of what is going on is to check with the court in your area that handles evictions and either read through their coronavirus guidelines or call the clerk of courts office for more information.
Cause for Eviction
If you have a month-to-month lease, neither you nor your landlord is obligated to keep your agreement for more than one month at a time. This means that you can move out on 30 days’ notice, but it also means that your landlord can terminate your lease on 30 days’ notice. Generally, you are much more vulnerable to eviction if you are on a month-to-month lease than if you have a lease agreement for a longer period of time.
It is also important to know that if you are on a month-to-month lease, your landlord does not need a reason to evict you. He only needs to give you 30 days’ notice that he does not wish to continue the rental relationship (those 30 days are counted from the start of the next rental period) before starting the eviction process. The landlord also can evict you for doing something that breaks the month-to-month rental agreement — such as failing to pay rent or damaging rental property. If you break the rental agreement, the landlord can start the eviction process immediately, without first giving you the 30 days’ notice.
Once the landlord has provided 30 days’ notice (assuming he is not accusing you of breaking the lease agreement), he must start the eviction process by posting a three-day “notice to vacate” upon your door.
Once the landlord has provided 30 days’ notice (assuming he is not accusing you of breaking the lease agreement), he must start the eviction process by posting a three-day notice to vacate on your door. If your landlord comes back after the three days and you are still there, then he can file what is called a “forcible entry and detainer action” against you in court. A notice of this action will be posted on your door and will tell you when to appear in court for a hearing.
At the hearing, you and your landlord each will have a chance to tell your side of the story. If, for example, the landlord posted a three-day notice to vacate, and then accepted a rental payment for the next month, then the eviction action would be dismissed and you would be able to go home. While the landlord can start the eviction process again the following month, you will have bought extra time with which to find another home.
However, if your landlord has given you the 30 days’ notice, posted the three-day “notice to vacate” on your door and properly filed the eviction papers in court, it is unlikely that you will be able to stop the eviction, since your landlord does not need to give a reason for evicting you.
Assuming your landlord wins, he can get a “writ of restitution” (also known as a “red tag”) and this will be posted on your door by a bailiff. The writ of restitution will tell you how many days you have to get out (usually between five and 10 days). If you are not out by that time, the landlord can get a “praecipe for set out” order. Then he will come to the apartment with a bailiff and you will be escorted off of your premises and your belongings removed.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you want to contest your eviction, an attorney can check to make sure that the timing of the required notices (30-day and three-day) were correctly sent out. An attorney can also check the wording of your original lease agreement to see if your landlord needs an actual breach of the lease, not just a 30-day letter, to terminate the lease agreement.
Ohio Legal Help provides more information for your specific situation at ohiolegalhelp.org.
Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.