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What are my rights as a tenant of a rental property in Ohio?

Ohio law governs the relationship between tenants and landlords. When the arrangement no longer benefits one of the parties, they must take certain steps to end it. For example, they must give notice to the other side. A landlord CANNOT resort to “self-help” in order to remove a tenant from his property. The following examples are sometimes used or threatened by landlords, even though doing so is against the law:

  1. Physically forcing the tenant out of the property
  2. Threatening to hurt the tenant if the tenant does not leave
  3. Removing the tenant’s things without permission
  4. Turning off utilities (gas, electric, water) at the property
  5. Changing the locks
  6. Altering the property to make it unlivable

The only way to evict someone in Ohio is through the court system. Before the court proceeding, the landlord must deliver all proper notices to the tenant. All landlords must serve tenants with a 3 day notice to vacate. Landlords for subsidized housing have additional notice requirements.

The landlord can then go to the municipal housing court to file a complaint against the tenant if the tenant does not move out. The court then schedules a hearing, where both the landlord and tenant can present their case. If the landlord is able to prove the grounds for eviction, the Court will order the tenant to move. Usually the courts allow tenants 7 to 10 days from the eviction to prepare to move. Tenants and landlords can call the Cleveland Housing Court at 216-664-4295 for information about eviction proceedings.

Emergency assistance and shelter can be found by calling 211 if a landlord illegally evicts a tenant. Tenants who are illegally evicted may also be entitled to money damages for property lost as a result of the landlord’s actions. Some things tenants can do if facing an illegal eviction are:

  1. Call the police and make a police report immediately.
  2. Take pictures of where the landlord put personal property, and anything that was damaged, as soon as possible.
  3. Identify any witnesses. If anyone observed the landlord’s actions, ask for their name and contact information.
  4. Notify utility companies and request utility records for the time at issue to prove the amount of the charges that should not be charged to the tenant.
  5. Call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for assistance or call the Cleveland Housing Court 216-664-4295 to seek information about the legal process.

If a landlord threatens an illegal eviction, there are organizations that can try to help prevent it. Call the Cleveland Tenant Organization at 216-664- 0617 or The Cleveland Mediation Center at 216-621-1919. Legal Aid can help with some evictions. Call 1-888-817-3777 to apply for assistance.

This article was written by Lukas Padegimas and appeared in The Alert: Volume 31, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!