Wrongful Eviction Attorneys
Tenant RightsIn Ohio, landlords have various duties and obligations imposed on them by law. These duties and obligations cannot be altered through a lease and they exist independently of a lease between a landlord and a tenant. You can read more about the specific duties of a landlord here.
What if the Landlord Violates the Tenant's Rights?If a landlord violates their duties imposed by statute via Ohio Revised Code section 5321.04, then the tenant has a specific list of possible remedies contained in Ohio Revised Code section 5321.07 which requires the tenant to give written notice to the landlord of the alleged violations. If the landlord fails to provide a remedy within 30 days of receiving notice and the tenant is current in rent, then the tenant has a few options: create a rent escrow account with the local Municipal court and deposit timely rent payments in the account until the issue is fixed, apply to a Court to have the Court order the landlord to fix the situation, or terminate the lease.
What is a Wrongful Eviction?If a landlord evicts a tenant, then they must comply with the procedures set forth in Ohio Revised Code chapters 5321 and 1923. This means that the landlord must provide the tenant with a notice posted on the tenant's door of the reason for the potential eviction. The landlord must then wait the requisite number of days before filing an eviction action against the tenant in the local Municipal Court. The number of days the landlord must wait depends on the type of infraction the landlord is claiming
Required Notices3-Day Notice.
If the landlord is claiming nonpayment of rent or some other breach of a term in the written lease then the landlord must post a 3-day notice. With a 3-day notice, the first day start the day after the notice is posted. With a 3-day notice, the landlord can file an eviction action the day after the 3-days has elapsed.
If the landlord claims that the tenant is in violation of some other obligation, or an obligation imposed on tenants through Ohio Revised Code section 5321.05, then the landlord must post a 30-day notice. The 30-day notice must inform the tenant of the alleged violation and give the tenant a chance to "cure" or remedy the situation within that 30-day window. The 30-day period begins the day after the notice is posted. During this period the tenant can fix the alleged violation and then technically the landlord cannot then file an eviction action against the tenant. If the tenant fixes the alleged violation and the landlord files an eviction action anyways, then the tenant may have a case for wrongful eviction or a good defense against the eviction action.
Violation of the Notice RequirementIf a landlord files an eviction action without first posting either a 3-day or 30-day notice, or files an eviction action without waiting the appropriate number of days required by the notice, then the tenant may have a case for wrongful eviction.
Lockout of a Tenant (Illegal Landlord Self-Help Remedies)There are other ways a tenant can be wrongfully evicted. If the landlord kicks out the tenant without filing an eviction action at all, then the landlord is in violation of Ohio's landlord-tenant statutes and has wrongfully evicted the tenant. This kind of wrongful eviction can occur with something like as flagrant as changing the locks on the tenant's door without going through the Court process; or a wrongful eviction can occur with something more subtle such as turning off a tenant's utilities so as to force the tenant out.
Remedies for a Wrongful EvictionThere is no real remedy to a wrongful eviction other than bringing a lawsuit or counter-claim against the landlord. If the landlord has already filed an eviction action, then the tenant must assert the wrongful eviction action as a counter-claim against the landlord in the eviction action.
If the landlord never filed an eviction against the tenant, then the tenant has to file a lawsuit against the landlord alleging a wrongful eviction cause of action.
Causes of Action Related to Wrongful EvictionThere are several other causes of action that frequently arise along with a cause of action for wrongful eviction, and these are: conversion, trespass, and trespass to chattels.
Basically, a cause of action for conversion means that the landlord stole your property (perhaps by throwing it away, but either way, if they 'converted' possession of your property then there may be a cause of action for conversion). Secondly, there may be a cause of action for trespassing on your property while it was properly yours under the terms of the lease. Lastly, if there has been a wrongful eviction then there may also be a cause of action for trespass to chattels. A "chattel" is basically an item of personal property. Just as trespassing is the act of coming onto your property without your permission, trespass to chattels is taking control of your personal property without your permission.
Damages for Wrongful Eviction
Ohio Revised Code section 5321.15 provides for all damages caused to a tenant through a landlord's wrongful eviction plus reasonable attorney's fees. If a cause of action for conversion, trespass, or trespass to chattels is brough then not only can damages be collected for the value of the tenant's property, but punitive damages could also be recovered against the landlord.