Ohio landlord-tenant laws tell landlords and tenants what their rights and responsibilities are under Ohio law. For a description of these rights and responsibilities, and other general information about Ohio landlord-tenant law, view Legal Aid's brochure: Ohio Landlord-Tenant Law: The Basics.
A landlord may bring an eviction action against a tenant when the tenant has
- Failed to pay rent on time
- Occupied the unit after the termination or expiration of the rental agreement
- Breached the lease agreement
For more information about the steps landlords must take to lawfully evict a tenant, see https://lasclev.org/how-can-a-landlord-legally-evict-a-tenant/.
When a tenant receives eviction papers from a court (also called “summons and complaint in forcible entry and detainer”), the tenant has the right to respond. A tenant responds to the landlord’s complaint by filing an “Answer.” If the tenant believes the landlord has not met its obligations under the law or lease agreement, the tenant can also file a “counterclaim” asking for money damages from the landlord.
Tenants who do not have a lawyer can answer questions online about their situation to create an answer or answer and counterclaim. Before starting the online questions, tenants should collect all of the relevant information. A list of helpful documents is available here.
The following link will open a new website where tenants can create an account and complete an answer or answer and counterclaim. https://lawhelpinteractive.org/Interview/GenerateInterview/6131/engine
After creating the Answer or Answer and Counterclaim, tenants need to print, sign, copy and file the papers. Instructions for how to take these steps are here: https://lasclev.org/onlinetoolevictionanswerdirections/
Tenants who file only an Answer should not have to pay a filing fee to the court. Tenants who file an Answer and Counterclaim may have to pay a filing fee. The amount owed for filing can be found on the municipal court’s website or by calling the clerk of court.
Tenants who cannot afford the filing fee can apply for a waiver of the fee. The waiver allows a tenant to file papers but does not eliminate the fee; it is still added to the case. An application to waive filing fees is made with a “poverty affidavit.” The following link will open a new website where tenants can create an account and complete a poverty affidavit: https://lawhelpinteractive.org/Interview/GenerateInterview/6118/engine
A person who goes to court without help from a lawyer is called a “pro se” litigant. Pro se litigants should prepare as best as possible to present their case. The following links offer some suggestions when preparing to go to court without a lawyer: