The only way to evict a tenant in Ohio is through the court system. It is illegal for a landlord to do any of the following to remove a tenant from their property:

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

If the landlord engages in any of the activities above, the court may award the tenant damages and attorney fees.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Last week Congress passed and President Trump signed a $2 trillion relief bill, but that money will not be available before many of us have to make rent and utility payments on April 1, 2020.

Much of the relief is also one-time payments and we all have recurring expenses. It is important that your housing stability is maintained during this pandemic. That is why we have created a template for an email or text you can send to your landlord now:

Sample Email/Text to Your Landlord

Today’s date

Hi landlord’s name, I hope you and yours are safe and healthy. I wanted to keep you updated about my situation. I have lost income/work/my job because of the COVID-19 crisis and cannot afford to pay my April rent at this time. Would you be willing to:

  1. Waive April late fees?
  2. Agree not to evict me for not being able to pay April rent on time, and instead agree that after the governor lifts the stay at home order, we will work out a repayment agreement that works for both of us?

The news is reporting that most mortgage holders can qualify for a forbearance because of COVID-19. If you receive a forbearance from your lender, would you also be willing to not charge me rent for those months?

Thanks for your flexibility and understanding,
Your name
Your address
Your phone number

Also below are some additional resources on what is in the relief bill to help you plan.

What’s in the CARES Act?

  • Evictions for not paying rent and late fees are prohibited until July 25th for any landlord who has a federally backed mortgage or who receives government housing subsidies.
  • Roughly 70% of all mortgages for 1–4 family homes are federally backed (by FHA, HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Dept. of Agriculture).

Calculate how much money you may receive from a stimulus check and when it might arrive.

For Homeowners and Landlords

  • The CARES Act makes it possible for anyone with a federally backed mortgage, to request up to a six month forbearance with no penalties, with the option to extend another six months.
  • Find out if you have a federally backed mortgage.
  • Make sure to contact your mortgage servicer now, as all financial institutions are being encouraged to offer forbearance plans to their customers.
  • For borrowers with mortgages who are unable to make their payments, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers guidance in their video “CARES Act Mortgage Forbearance: What You Need to Know.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a landlord does not have the right to infringe on a tenant’s right to have guests unless local health authorities have issued specific orders that would prohibit guests.

A tenant’s right to have guests is found in their right to possess and control the premises—usually based in the lease—and under the legal concept of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. In Ohio, this right is implied in every rental lease agreement. The right of a tenant to have guests in her rental unit is violated when a landlord obstructs, interferes with, or takes away from the tenant, the ability to invite and have guests. The right to have guests includes the right to use the common area for travel to and from the rental unit. There is nothing in Ohio’s Stay at Home order that gives a landlord the power to infringe on the right of a tenant to have guests

If you can pay your rent, you should continue to do so. Your landlord may still be able to evict you for unpaid rent once this crisis is over.

If you cannot pay your rent, or cannot pay the full amount of your rent, you should communicate with your landlord in writing (preferably email) and explain your situation. Offer to pay whatever you can, and ask them to work with you. For a sample email or text, see the CARES Act section above.

Unfortunately, there are no funds available for rental assistance that we know about.

To determine whether you are eligible for unemployment and to apply for benefits, go to unemployment.ohio.gov.

For Subsidized Housing Tenants

To make it easier for tenants of subsidized housing to request a rent recalculation because they have had a change in income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our friends at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center created a form that allows tenants to put in the information about their decrease in income, address, etc.

Once the form is completed, the program automatically generates an email to the tenant’s housing authority as well as to the tenant.

There is also an option to have the letter emailed to the tenant only so that the tenant can decide where to send the letter.

Generate a letter by going to ctfairhousing.org/rent.

If you are facing eviction or are being threatened with being evicted:

You cannot be moved out of your home without a court order.

Most eviction proceedings have been suspended in area courts (see list below).

Your landlord cannot evict you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment for having COVID-19.

Your landlord cannot evict you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment for being under home quarantine.

Being under isolation or quarantine in a hospital or other facility does not change your tenancy — your apartment remains your primary residence.

You will still need to pay rent during quarantine or any time in a medical facility, just as is the case for any illness.

Your landlord cannot discriminate against you, kick you out, or ask you to leave your apartment because of fears and stigma around COVID-19, including discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or other protected classes.

If you are facing discrimination, harassment and/or eviction by your landlord, please contact our office at (440)392-0147 or email [email protected]

Statements on evictions from Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula courts

UPDATED 5/21/2020

LAKE COUNTY

Mentor Municipal Court – 440-974-5744

All hearings proceeding as scheduled

Willoughby Municipal Court –  440-953-4150

Serving Willoughy, Willoughby Hills, Willowick, Wickliffe

As of March 14th evictions are temporarily postponed for 60 days.( As of 5/21/2020- No Changes)

Painesville Municipal Court – 440-392-5900

Eviction cases will resume on May 7, 2020, ruling on Writs that were held during temporary postponement and issued by the court.

 

GEAUGA COUNTY

Chardon Municipal Court  –

Serving Aquilla, Auburn, Bainbridge, Burton, Chardon, Chesterland, Claridon, Hambden, Huntsburg, Middlefield, Montville, Munson, Newbury, Parkman, Russell, South Russell, Thompson and Troy.

First cause eviction hearings are being held and considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure no criminal, violent or dangerous activity is involved. Otherwise may be continued as to the date the tenant has to vacate.

 

ASHTABULA COUNTY  –  440-576-3642

All pre-trials, trials, evictions and small claims hearings are to be continued until on or after May 18, 2020 or as otherwise ordered by the court. Such hearings will be scheduled in a staggered fashion so as to limit the number of persons in the Justice Center and Courtroom at any particular time.

Writ of Restitution: All Writ of Restitution’s and move-outs shall not be executed “absent emergency circumstances” until on or after May 18, 2020.

Information from the Federal Government