General Guide to the Eviction Process in Columbus, Ohio

Attorney Jonathan J. Schlegel, Esq.

I am Jonathan J. Schlegel, Esq. and I am an experienced Eviction attorney handling 5-25 evictions per month. The vast majority of my clients are mom & pop landlords with 1-4 residences. I also represent a few community property managers. My goal is to provide some education for small landlords about the eviction process as a whole. It is NOT my goal to provide comprehensive education as every situation is different and for any situation where the landlord has a question, I always advise to hire a competent eviction attorney, even if it’s not me. Handling the process correctly the first time will always save you money (and a headache) as opposed to having to correct your actions later in time.

My office information is located below, and I am happy to take your call and take care of your legal needs.

Law Office of Jonathan J. Schlegel, Esq.
450 West Wilson Bridge Road, Suite 380
Worthington, Ohio 43085
614-245-5296
schlegel-lawfirm.com

Disclaimer – This is NOT legal advice for your specific situation:

This is a general guide meant to aid in the understanding of the residential eviction process in Columbus, Ohio (Franklin County). This is not legal advice for your specific situation. Your specific situation may involve factors not covered including tenant defenses and specific law that may alter the route for you to proceed. It is always recommended that you hire a qualified and experienced eviction attorney to provide high-quality service and the best legal route to regaining possession of your property.

Evaluate your situation

The most common types of eviction are done because the tenant has failed to pay rent (often multiple times).

Frequent additional causes are due to the tenant remaining in the property after the lease has ended (Holdover Tenant); or

Breaking a lease clause (no pets, no smoking, causing significant damage to the property).

Sometimes there is no lease at all and you just wish to terminate their right to reside in your property.

I will cover some of the most common eviction and lease-termination situations, but keep in mind, your situation is unique. There may be tenant defenses that you need to be aware of. I will try to point out some of the common defenses where pertinent, but as always, hiring an eviction attorney is always your best chance of having an efficient and successful outcome.

Overview of Eviction steps

  1. Evaluate your situation and proper course of action (hire an attorney if unsure).
  2. Provide proper notice(s). Some situations will require multiple notices and require different periods of time to wait for each notice.
  3. File your eviction complaint at the Franklin County Municipal Courthouse (375 S. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, Floor 3, Civil Clerk).
  4. Wait for your hearing (generally 14-21 days from when you file).
  5. Appear at your hearing, make your case in front of the magistrate.
  6. Set-Out.

Every eviction is different. The entire process from notice to set-out can run from 4 weeks to multiple months depending on your specific situation.

Notices are important

Prior to filing your eviction you must provide proper notices. Sometimes the notice is as short as a 3-day notice, sometimes you need to provide a longer notice first before the 3-day notice. Determine what notices you need and when you need to post them before filing the eviction complaint. Improper notices are an easy way for you to waste a month or more only to arrive for a hearing in front of a magistrate and to be told that you need to start the process over again.

Posting notices is easy. Simply secure a notice to the front door of the residence (I suggest duct tape), and to the best of your ability, create evidence of your posted notice. Taking a picture of the notice on the door is a good start. Keep in mind you cannot use your phone for evidence. Print the picture out before you head to court. The magistrate will not even look at your phone. Print it out.

Who owns the property?

If you own the property (your name is on the deed, even if still paying a mortgage), you are likely good to move forward.

Do you own a one or more properties as a business and keep the properties titled in an LLC or other corporate entity? STOP. Hire an attorney. Ohio law requires that you have legal counsel for your eviction when the property is held by an LLC or other corporate entity.

Is the property held by a Trust? STOP. Hire an attorney. The Trustee may not move forward without counsel.

Failure to pay rent

Failure to pay rent is by far the most common reason for eviction. Ohio courts are fairly favorable to landlords who have tenants that do not pay the rent. But not in all cases. Consider the following issues before moving forward:

  • Does the tenant have a history of late rent payments?
  • Has the tenant made complaints about the quality of the premises or threatened an Escrow action?

If the tenant falls into either of the two categories above, STOP. Hire an eviction attorney.

If the tenant is just one or two months behind, but without a history of late payments, nor a history of complaints about the quality of the premises, the following is the most common process for evictions.

  1. Post the 3-Day notice as described above in the “Notices are Important” section.
  2. Wait for the 3-Day notice to expire. Keep in mind when counting 3 days, you should not count the day that you post the notice, and you cannot count weekends or holidays. This means that the 3-Day notice is often a 4-8 day notice effectively. The Franklin County Municipal Court has fill-in-the-blank 3-Day notices available freely to the public.
  3. File your eviction complaint ($133). The Franklin County Municipal Court has fill-in-the-blank eviction complaints available to the public.
  4. Determine when your eviction hearing will be held (you can call the Court or search online at their website for your hearing date).
  5. Arrive at your hearing. It will be held at 9:00 AM, in Courtroom 11A of the Franklin County Municipal Court.
  6. The magistrate will ask you and your tenant a number of questions. Answer the questions as fully as you can. Provide any additional evidence (printed photos of the posted notice(s) for example).
  7. The magistrate will, if you have done everything properly, issue an order for the eviction.
  8. Purchase the Set-Out ($80) from the 3rd floor of the same building. You will be required to fill out two forms which the Court can provide.
  9. Follow the instructions for the Set-Out (the instructions can be obtained from the 3rd floor of the Court).

Hold-over Tenants (Remaining in Premises after lease has ended)

The process for evicting a Hold-Over tenant is nearly identical to a tenant who has failed to pay rent. READ the failure to pay rent section! You are able to start with the 3-Day notice just like the failure to pay rent. Just state your reason for eviction as “Hold-Over tenant”.

The remainder of the process is identical.

Some issues to be aware of:

  • Does the tenant have a reason they might believe they are entitled to remain in the premises?
  • Did you orally extend the lease?
  • Is there a possibility of uncertainty about when the lease ended?
  • Did you give proper notice to terminate the lease?

If you have a tenant that might fall into any of those issues, hire an eviction attorney. It will cost money but it will save you time and grief.

General lease violation (Smoking, pets, NOISE, etc…)

When a tenant violates a lease provision such as smoking in a non-smoking unit, or having pets where none are allowed, they are able to be evicted for such a violation, however I cannot stress this enough:

HIRE AN EVICTION ATTORNEY.

There are a number of factual determinations for which you will need to provide evidence. Evidence in these matters is sometimes difficult or cumbersome to collect. An eviction attorney can guide you to the best method of collecting that evidence that will be influential at your hearing.

Your general steps for moving forward with such an eviction are generally as follows:

  1. Post a notice with a reasonable time limit stating the lease clause being violated and that the tenant has some time to correct it. For nearly all situations, reasonable means at least 30 days. Some situations may require longer, some may warrant a shorter notice. But you can’t tell someone who just acquired a dog that they have 1 day to correct the issue. That’s not very reasonable.
  2. Once the time has expired, AND you have evidence that they still are violating the lease, you can post a 3-Day notice as described in the failure to pay rent process. You will simply change the reason from failure to pay rent to whatever lease violation clause there is.
  3. Unlike the failure to pay rent situation, you will need to provide a copy of the lease and identify exactly which clause the tenant is violating when you file the eviction complaint. As stated before, do NOT do this alone, it is worth your time and money to have an eviction attorney do this properly.
  4. Finally, follow the remainder of steps stated in the failure to pay rent section. The hearing will be where you present your evidence of the lease violation. You will need to present evidence that existed at the time you posted the first notice, that it existed at the time you posted the 3-Day notice, and that it exists at the time of the hearing. This will not be easy for the vast majority of landlords. This is the third time I am saying it in this section alone: You should hire an eviction attorney.

Tenant pays month to month but no lease

This is a common situation. At some point the relationship between the landlord and tenant breaks down and the landlord no longer wishes to have the tenant in the premises.

The good thing is, is that you don’t need to start an eviction action right away. Only if they refuse to leave.

To start, you need to give them a written notice that you are terminating the lease. This notice needs a little explanation because it is a bit tricky:

A notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy must give the tenant at least one full CALENDAR month prior to that tenancy being ended. For example:

  • If you provide a termination of tenancy on February 26th, the remainder of February is not a full calendar month, so the lease will terminate on March 31st.
  • If you provide a termination of tenancy on February 3rd, the remainder of February is not a full calendar month, so the lease will terminate on March 31st.
  • If you provide a termination of tenancy at noon on February 1st, the remainder of February is NOT a full calendar month (because of the hours from midnight to noon before you provided the notice). The lease will terminate on March 31st.
  • If you provide a termination of tenancy any time in February, the lease will not end until March 31st.

If it is near the end of January (say, the 28th). The difference in posting the notice in January vs. February will cost you an ENTIRE month. Once you’ve made a decision on how to move forward with your tenant, never delay. One day can cost you an entire month.

Once you have provided the notice to terminate and have waited until the notice expires, if the tenant still resides in the property, they are now a Hold-Over tenant and you can proceed as described in the Hold-Over section above.

Tenant does not pay RENT, has never been expected to pay RENT

These situations crop up most often with adult children who will not move out of mom & dad’s house. They most often happen when that adult child starts to cause problems for mom & dad.

No rent has been expected. No rent has ever been paid.

Issues to be concerned about:

  • Have you ever told your tenant that they are month to month?
  • Have you ever asked your tenant to pay rent?
  • Has your tenant ever paid ANY rent? Even one dollar.
  • Does your tenant reside in your own home?

If any of the above issues apply, STOP! Speak with a qualified eviction attorney.

If not, most likely, you have a situation called Tenancy-At-Will. That means the tenant (adult child most of the time) is indeed a tenant, but since they pay no rent, nor are expected to pay any rent, they are not a month-to-month tenant, they are a tenant-at-will.

These can be tricky situations. I advise that you hire a qualified eviction attorney to guide you through the process and ensure notices are proper. As I’ve repeated, improper notices can sink your ship. Proper notices are important.

In these cases I usually suggest a 30 day notice of termination of tenancy. Specific situations (domestic violence, propensity to damage the residence, etc…) will alter that analysis.

Once the 30-Day notice of termination of tenancy has expired, then a standard Hold-Over tenant eviction is warranted.

Hiring an Attorney

You may hire me. If you do not want to hire me, you may call me and I will happily give you a referral for another qualified eviction attorney. Their process may be different than mine, but anyone I refer you to I am certain will provide competent legal services.

When you call me, I will listen to you and learn about your situation.

  • I will provide all necessary notices, completed. Nothing for you to guess at or fill in.
  • I will write your eviction complaint and file it at the earliest date allowable by law.
  • I will appear at your eviction hearing and outline the questions that the magistrate will ask you.
  • I will not charge you more if the case goes sideways and we have a second (or third) hearing.
  • I will keep you informed of the process, and will be with you at all court dates.
  • I will provide you with the opportunity to secure the possession of your property or I will return your fee.

My office information is located below, and I am happy to take your call and take care of your legal needs.

Law Office of Jonathan J. Schlegel, Esq.
450 West Wilson Bridge Road, Suite 380
Worthington, Ohio 43085
614-245-5296
schlegel-lawfirm.com