Legal FAQs for Renters in

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 July 9, 2021. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Ohio

Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?

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

You may be protected from eviction under the national CDC Eviction Moratorium through October 3, 2021, if your county has high or substantial COVID rates. Read more below about the Moratorium.

There are no state-level protections against evictions in Ohio, though 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 are eligible for U.S. national protections through July 31, 2021, check here below to see if you qualify.

Some utility shut-off moratoriums have ended or are ending soon. 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. Check with your local water supplier to learn about their plan to resume shut-offs.

What do the protections mean for Ohio renters?

If you do not qualify for national protections, then 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.

You may still be protected against eviction in Ohio with the national CDC Eviction Moratorium through July 31, 2021. Read more below to see if you are protected.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

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

You may be protected for eviction based on nonpayment of rent through July 31, 2021 if you follow the CDC's National Eviction Moratorium's rules. But you may be sued for eviction after the special protections end, and will still owe all your rent.

Also 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:

  • See if you qualify for the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. If you do qualify, fill in the Declaration form and give it to your landlord. This can help stop the eviction, or give you a defense against it.
  • 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.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help. Landlords are never allowed to change your locks to attempt to force you out. This is illegal. Reach out for legal help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in Ohio?

The answer is maybe. Ohio landlords can sue tenants for eviction since the statewide protections ended.

But if you can't pay your rent because of hardships during COVID, you can try to stop the eviction through the national CDC moratorium.

In fall 2020, the CDC announced an order to temporarily halt evictions for nonpayment of rent in the US. The CDC has extended this order through July 31, 2021. But, because of certain recent actions in federal court, the CDC moratorium might not protect you in your local eviction court. 

If you receive a notice to leave from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out 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.

Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through October 3, 2021.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.

Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.

Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:

  • Rent a home in the United States; AND
  • Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
  • Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
  • Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
  • Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
  • Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.

If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.

What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?

The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through October 3, 2021.

This means:

  • If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
  • You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:

  • Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
  • After the CDC Moratorium expires on October 3, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:

  • Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
  • You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.

How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?

To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
  2. Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
  3. Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
  4. Protections through October 3st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through October 3, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
  5. If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
  6. You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on October 3, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
  7. Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.

If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

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

Are eviction cases still moving through Ohio courts?

My landlord gave me an eviction notice

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?

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

I've been sued in court for eviction

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.

How can I get rent help?

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.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

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

Its 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

Did this page help?