LASC PROVIDES ASSISTANCE AND REPRESENTATION FOR TENANTS WHO ARE FACING EVICTION. CONTACT LASC INTAKE FOR HELP.
Do you have forms or other information that can help me file an Answer, or Answer and Counterclaims?
Yes. Click here to open a pamphlet that has forms and instructions on filing your Answer or Answer and Counterclaims.
How long do I have to file an Answer, or file an Answer and Counterclaims?
You have 28 days from the date you were served with the eviction complaint to mail a copy of your Answer to the landlord (or the landlord’s attorney if the landlord has an attorney who has appeared in the case). Within three days of that, the original needs to be filed at the 3rd floor of the Municipal Court building.
The landlord’s Complaint asks for a money judgment. Is this a separate issue from whether or not I get evicted?
Yes. At the eviction hearing the magistrate will usually only decide whether or not the landlord gets to take the property back. If you disagree that you owe money, you need to prepare a document called an “Answer”. You need to send a copy to the landlord and file the original with the court. If you believe the landlord owes you some money, you can also file counterclaims against the landlord. Once you file your Answer or Answer and Counterclaims, the Court will send you a notice about a new hearing on the issue of who owes whom and how much money is owed.
I disagree about the reason for the eviction but have no attorney. Can I present my arguments on my own?
Yes. At the start of the hearing, the magistrate will probably ask you:
- Did you get a copy of this 3 day notice to leave?
- At that time were you behind in rent?
- Are you still living there?
- Do you have anything you’d like to say?
If you did not get a copy of the notice, or you disagree that you were behind in rent, or if you have moved out, you need to answer “NO” so that there will be a discussion about that issue. If you have paperwork such as receipts showing that you made payments, bring those to court. If you tried to offer your rent but the landlord refused to accept it, give details (where, when) about the date you offered the rent. Bring witnesses who can support your side of the story.
I already got a one-week continuance. I could not get an attorney. My hearing is tomorrow. I agree I owe some money to the landlord. What should I do?
There are usually one or more representatives from the Community Mediation Services at the court. They are often sitting at a table outside Courtroom 11A during eviction hearing time. Ask them for help. The court may also be able to provide you with a mediator who can help you. They can sometimes help you work out an agreement with the landlord. For example, if you owe the landlord some money, you may could reach an agreement to pay the money and stay. Or it the landlord does not want to continue to rent to you, the landlord might agree to an agreed move-out date. The way the case ends might matter to future landlords. A case that ends with an agreement will probably look better to a future landlord than an eviction judgment, and could help your ability to get housing assistance in the future. Make sure you understand everything you are signing and also that you check in with the court bailiff before approaching the mediators.
My eviction case is tomorrow. I am too late to get help. What should I do tomorrow? Can I ask for a continuance?
Get to courtroom 11A by 9:00am. Walk up the aisle to the front and check in with the bailiff (the person sitting next to where the judge sits). Then go to a bench seat and wait for your case to be called. If this is your first hearing on the eviction case, you can ask for a one-week continuance so that you can try to get an attorney to help you. Eviction hearings are very quick. When your case is called you should go up in front of the magistrate. You will first be asked to swear to tell the truth. Then people will start asking you questions.
Before you start answering questions say “I would like a one week continuance so that I can find an attorney.” The court will usually give you a single one-week continuance, and reschedule the hearing for seven days later.
NOTE: It is important that you ask for this continuance before you start answering questions about the case. If you start answering questions about the case and then at the end ask for a continuance, you probably won’t get it.
I disagree with the reason for the eviction. Can legal aid help me with my case?
Possibly. Due to being understaffed we are very limited in how many cases we can take. However, please call our intake line at 614-241-2001. We may be able to represent you or find a volunteer attorney who could help you with your case. If those options are not available we will give you some suggestions of other people/organizations that may be able to assist you.
I got the eviction complaint and my hearing is tomorrow. But I have moved out and returned my keys to the landlord. Do I still need to go to court tomorrow?
Yes. You should go to court. You may find out that the landlord dismissed the case once you get to court, but unless you are sure the case was dismissed you should go to court. When your case is called you should tell the magistrate the date you moved out and returned the keys to the landlord. You should ask “Your honor I am asking that the eviction be dismissed as ‘moot’ because I moved out and I do not want an eviction judgment on my record.” (Moot means unnecessary.)
If the landlord follows the correct process, about how long do I have between getting the Notice to Leave Premises, and actually having to leave?
If you ask for a one-week continuance (discussed further below), and if the landlord gets everything done as quickly as possible, it will take about thirty days before the landlord would be allowed to set you out:
Date Landlord Gives Notice to Leave Premises→Date Landlord Files Eviction Complaint (4 Days Later)
Eviction Complaint→1st Eviction Hearing (14 Days)
1st Eviction Hearing→2nd Eviction Hearing (if you get a one-week continuance) (7days)
2nd Eviction Hearing→Set Out (5 days)
If I get out within the three days, can the landlord still evict me?
No. If you vacate the rental property and return your keys to the landlord within those three days, the landlord should not file an eviction action. Try to get a receipt for the keys, because turning over the keys is the official act of giving the property back to the landlord.
My landlord just gave me a “Notice to Leave the Premises” saying I have to vacate my rental property in three days. What happens if I don’t get out in three days?
The landlord cannot put your stuff out if you don’t vacate in three days. Ohio law has a process which the landlord must follow. The landlord has to wait three full days after giving you the notice before he can take the next step in the process, which is to file an eviction complaint in municipal court. If the landlord files an eviction complaint in court you will be served with court papers. The top page of those papers will tell you the time and date of the eviction hearing. The hearing will probably be scheduled for 14 days from the date the complaint was filed.