When an eviction case is filed, it becomes part of the court’s public record. Many landlords screen potential tenants by searching their eviction case history. An old eviction case, no matter the outcome, can make it hard for a tenant to find housing.
In Ohio, there is no state law that gives a tenant the right to have their eviction record sealed. The court in which the eviction case was filed decides whether to seal the record.
The Cleveland Housing Court has a process for sealing eviction records. If the court dismissed the eviction or ruled in favor of the tenant, the case qualifies for sealing immediately. If the landlord won an eviction judgment against the tenant, the tenant must wait at least five years to ask for the record to be sealed, and the tenant must explain any unusual or mitigating circumstances that led to the eviction. The Cleveland Housing Court has forms on its website tenants can use to file a motion to seal: http://clevelandmunicipalcourt.org/docs/default-source/cleveland-housing-court/housing-court-forms/motion-to-seal-eviction-record-instructionsdfe0246cc4f76bf3972fff0000463da2.pdf?sfvrsn=e2174f3d_2
Other courts can order eviction records sealed but may not have a defined process for doing so. Tenants with eviction cases in courts other than Cleveland may file a motion to seal with the court that heard the case, explaining why the record should not be public. The court may hold a hearing, or rule on the motion without a hearing.
Sealing the record only means that it is less accessible to people looking at court. Even if the record is sealed, the tenant still must disclose the eviction if asked by a prospective landlord whether they have ever been evicted.