Disputes between landlords and tenants can be heard by the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court. Some examples include Forcible Entry and Detainers (evictions), rent deposits, and nuisance abatements.

My tenant has not paid the rent. Do I have to file an eviction with the Court?
Yes. In Ohio, a landlord of residential premises cannot physically remove the tenant from the premises, terminate utilities, or change the locks to encourage a tenant to move from the premises. This is called self-help, and is illegal in Ohio. A landlord must serve the appropriate notice(s), file a complaint against the tenant, go to court, be granted a judgment, and follow the court-instituted eviction procedure to remove the tenant from the premises.

How long does the eviction process take?
Each case is different, and there is no strict timeframe that applies to all cases. That stated, generally a landlord must begin the process by serving a 3-day notice. Once those three days have passed, the landlord can file the complaint. Here in Cleveland Heights, eviction hearings are held on Wednesdays, and generally, the hearing will be scheduled three weeks after the complaint is filed. If the eviction is granted, the tenant is generally given seven days to move out. If the tenant remains, the bailiff will physically removing the tenant from the property thereafter.

Is it true that the Court does not do move-outs in the winter?
No. However, the Court may limit the number of move-outs that occur around holidays because of staff limitations.

My landlord has refused to make repairs to my apartment. Can I withhold my rent?
No. In Ohio, a tenant whose landlord refuses or fails to make repairs cannot simply withhold their rent. However, the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice of the defective conditions or repairs requested. Then, if the landlord does not make the repairs in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant may deposit the rent with the Court.

n Court, the Judge recommended that the parties try to settle the case, but I have come up with agreements with my landlord/tenant in the past, and they have not worked, why would this be any different?
At the eviction hearing, the Judge will recommend that the parties see if they can come to some sort of resolution. The first benefit to coming to a resolution is that it will likely get you out of court sooner as the Court deals with the cases that are settled before it deals with contested cases. Another benefit is that rather than having the Judge decide, in which case one or both parties are certain not to like the outcome, the can craft their own agreement regarding their dispute. This can take the form of a payment plan to stay or an agreed move-out date, with or without a judgment for an eviction on the tenant’s record. The agreement will be put in writing, signed by all the parties, and signed by the Judge. Once the Judge signs off on it, it is an order of the court and has the full force of the Court. In other words, if one party does not live up to the agreement, the other party can enforce the agreement without needing to file a new lawsuit.