Legal FAQs for Renters in Ohio

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on Sep 14th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

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Emergency Protections during COVID

Emergency Protections during COVID


Are there any special protections for Ohio renters during the Covid-19 emergency?

There are no emergency protections against evictions in Ohio. The national ban on evictions expired on August 26, 2021.

Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.

Earlier Protections

In 2020, Ohio Governor DeWine has requested that landlords not evict tenants during the emergency. The Ohio Supreme Court has advised local courts to pause eviction-related matters during the emergency, and had extended court deadlines until July 30, 2020.

Some renters had also been eligible for U.S. national protections through August 26, 2021. That CDC Eviction Ban is now expired.

Utility shutoff protection also expired. AEP Ohio resumed disconnections in September 2020. Ohio Edison/First Energy will resume disconnections on September 15, 2020. Columbia Gas will resume disconnections on July 29, 2020. If you receive service from another provider, check their website to learn about when they plan to resume shut-offs. The state-wide order to stop water shut-offs ended on July 10, 2020.

What do the protections mean for Ohio renters?

Since emergency protections have expired, then for renters in Ohio:

  1. Your landlord can still give you a notice to leave.
  2. Your landlord can still file an eviction claim in court against you.
  3. Hearings on eviction may still be happening (depending on your local court's policies), and the court may still hear an eviction case against you.
  4. The court may issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
  5. An existing eviction order may be enforced against you.
  6. Your utilities should not be shut off, even if you cannot pay your utility bills.
Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Ohio renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Apply for rental assistance: If you need financial assistance for housing costs like rent or utility bills, you may be able to get help.
  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in Ohio?

Ohio landlords can sue tenants for eviction since the statewide protections ended. But lawyers may help you find protections and services that can prevent the eviction.

If you receive a notice to leave from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out as soon as possible for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?

Some utility shut-off moratoriums have ended or are ending soon. AEP Ohio will resume disconnections in September, 2020. Ohio Edison/First Energy will resume disconnections on September 15, 2020. Columbia Gas will resume disconnections on July 29, 2020. If you receive service from another provider, check their website to learn about when they plan to resume shut-offs. The state-wide order to stop water shut-offs ended on July 10, 2020. Check with your local water supplier to learn about their plan to resume shut-offs.

Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

What if I need repairs?

Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.

The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Emergency repairs could be for problems with:

  • Running water or hot water
  • Heat or air-conditioning
  • Stove, refrigerator, or oven
  • Electricity
  • Bathroom use
  • Missing doors, locks, or windows
  • Pests

If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).

Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.

Can I break my lease?

You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.

Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.

However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).

Find legal help to get advice for your situation.

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.

Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.

Find legal help to protect your rights.

Are eviction cases still moving through Ohio courts?

Ohio courts are hearing eviction cases as of October 2020. Check with the state courts to find more information.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?


My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Ohio. What should I do?

You do not have to leave your home yet.

In Ohio, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to negotiate with your landlord or leave your home.

This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.

These are the Ohio requirements for an eviction notice:

  1. The notice must be written down.
  2. The notice must contain the name of the landlord.
  3. It should have your name and address.
  4. The notice has to give you at least three days to leave your rental home.
  5. The notice must also include the following statement, and it must be easily visible and obvious: “You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance.”

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Ohio?

A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.

Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

Do I have to leave my home by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date in Ohio?

No, you do not have to leave your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.

You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.

After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Ohio. What if I can't afford to pay it?

You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward.

Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.

Find local financial help in Ohio here.

How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in Ohio?

In Ohio, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you.

The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?


My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Ohio. What should I do?

You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Ohio, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:

You must receive copy of the lawsuit’s Summons and Complaint by regular mail and then one additional copy in the following way:

1. By certified mail, or

2. By in-person service. Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord cannot give you these papers. It has to be a person who is not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff, the bailiff of the court, or a process server.

  • One of these people can give the notice to you personally, at your home.
  • They can also leave the papers with a member of your household that is of age.
  • They can post the notice in an obvious place somewhere on the property (usually the door).

You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Ohio?

In Ohio, you are not required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.

You will have an eviction hearing automatically scheduled at court. You must appear there if you want to defend yourself against the eviction. But you do not have to submit anything to the court or your landlord before this hearing.

Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Ohio?

You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.

You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.

Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.

Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.

You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.

Find local legal help in Ohio here.

Behind on Rent?

Behind on Rent?


Who can help me with rent that I owe?

If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.

Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.

Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.

Am I eligible for rent relief?

Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.

You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.

You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.

You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to see if you are eligible.

Does immigration status matter for rent relief?

Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.

Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?

Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.

Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.

The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program about the steps to follow to apply for rent relief.

Get Help From Local Groups

State information is taken from these sources:Ohio Legal HelpSupreme Court of Ohio advice to local courtsSupreme Court of Ohio orderOhio utilities orderPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker

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