MOUNT VERNON — Residents all over the country have become accustomed to seeing houses in their neighborhoods sit empty due to foreclosure. However, it is the sight of an eviction that residents often find confusing. The process is not an easy one for tenant or property owner.
“First thing, a tenant has to be past due on the rent,” said Claude Gates, a local landlord. “The next step, a landlord would have to post a three-day notice to vacate, or an eviction notice. It doesn’t have to be notarized or anything, it just has to be an actual notice stating what it is for and why they are being evicted. It can be posted on the main entrance door that they actually use to get in and out of the property or they can hand it to them. It has to be three business days [for the notice], three court working days, weekends and holidays do not count.”
Tenants are evicted from a rental property when the tenant does not keep his or her agreement. This could include non-payment of rent, involvement in drug activity, or damage to the rental property.
Under the Ohio Revised Code 1923.01, a rental agreement means any agreement or lease, written or oral, that establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, or other provisions concerning the use or occupancy of premises by one of the parties to the agreement or lease.
“If then, [the tenants] do not vacate the property, then the landlord has to go and file for a forcible entry and detainer action, which is the actual paper work to get a court action to present their case before a judge and then the judge will hear it,” said Gates.
The court could then issue a writ of execution giving the landlord permission for forcible entry and detention which commands the tenant to leave the premises.
“At the hearing, the judge sets the actual date for the tenant to be out. The tenant is notified by our bailiff, we do a writ of execution and that is either posted to their door or served personally by our bailiff,” said Janet Hulse, chief deputy clerk of the Knox County Common Pleas Court.
After a court-ordered eviction — and the tenant has not vacated the property — the landlord is permitted to do a “sit out,” in which all of the tenant’s possessions are removed from the premises. As explained in the Ohio Revised Code 1923.14, within 10 days after receiving the writ of execution the sheriff, police officer, constable or bailiff shall execute it by restoring the plaintiff, landlord, to the possession of the premises, and shall levy and collect the costs and make return, as upon other executions.
“The landlord is told in the courtroom, at the date of the hearing, if the tenant does not get out by the time [specified by the court] they are to contact our bailiff and have what we call a ‘sit out’ and the landlord has to arrange for people to move the items to the right of way ... and that allows the tenant to get it if they want and if not its up to the landlord to dispose of it,” said Hulse.
Some landlords do work with tenants, if the issue of the eviction is non-payment of rent, before legal action is taken.
“If [the landlord] does give the tenants a three-day eviction notice and accepts any money after that, they have to start the whole process over again,” said Gates. “It’s up to the landlord and tenant on each individual basis and some landlords do that. I know, I sometimes do that as long as [the tenants] are paying for the month they are going into I will continue to let them stay there.”
Although renting has increased, evictions are at a normal rate, Gates explained. However, many landlords have their own process for screening tenants before the property is rented to avoid the troubles of evictions. “Some people don’t even screen tenants at all as long as they have the money in hand and that is normally where you get into trouble. A lot of [landlords] do credit checks, criminal checks, and we also do the actual eviction list check with the city and county,” said Gates.