Landlord's Complaints [or FED (Forcible Entry and Detainer) Complaints] are filed by landlords to evict tenants from rental property because tenants have failed to pay rent, damaged the property, stayed beyond the term of the lease, etc. FED Complaints can also be used anytime real property is wrongfully withheld from the rightful owner, such as default on a land installment contract.
FED Complaints are designed to return the property to the landlord or rightful owner within a reasonable amount of time. The landlord can file for restitution of the premises only (first cause of action) or he/she can also file for back rent and damages (second cause of action).
Before a tenant can be evicted, Ohio law requires that the landlord notify the tenant(s) to leave the premises in writing at least three days prior to the filing of the Landlord's Complaint. Notices to leave premises must meet the legal requirements of Ohio law and may be obtained from the Toledo Legal News. The notice can be served in one of three ways: 1. certified mail, return receipt requested; 2. handing a written copy of the notice to the tenant personally; or 3. by leaving the written notice at the tenant's usual abode or the place from which the tenant is being evicted.
Notices to leave premises must be in writing and contain the following language in a conspicuous manner: "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."
As an example of the process, a landlord serves the tenant with the Notice to Leave Premises by posting the written notice on the tenant's door on Monday, March 5th. The Landlord's Complaint cannot be filed with the Court until Friday, March 9th. The landlord must bring a copy of the Notice to Leave Premises, a copy of the lease if it is a written lease, the Landlord’s Complaint, and court costs.
Once the Landlord's Complaint is filed, a hearing is scheduled usually 14-21 days thereafter. The Bailiff serves the tenant(s) with a copy of the Landlord's Complaint and Summons by personally handing it to the tenant(s), leaving it with someone else who lives in the premises, or by posting it on the door in a conspicuous place (such as by hanging it on the door). A copy is also sent to the tenant(s) by ordinary mail using a Certificate of Mailing as proof of mailing. The landlord may request that a third copy be sent to the tenant(s) by certified mail, return receipt requested, for an additional fee.
At the eviction hearing, the landlord must testify as to how and when the Notice to Leave Premises was served on the tenant(s), among other facts. The eviction hearing is only for the landlord's first cause of action for restitution of the premises. If the landlord has filed for the second cause of action for the back rent and damages, the case will be continued as to that cause of action.
If all essential elements are met to the Judge's satisfaction, judgment for restitution of the premises will be granted to the landlord, and the tenant(s) will have ten days to vacate the premises. If the premises are not vacated by noon on the tenth day, the Bailiff will schedule a date and time for the tenant's possessions to be set out to the curb, but the landlord must provide the manpower, bags and boxes.
If the landlord has filed for the second cause of action for back rent and damages, the tenant will have 28 days (from the date that a copy of the Landlord's Complaint and Summons was mailed to the tenant) to file an Answer contesting that the money is owed to the landlord. If 28 days has passed, and the tenant has not filed an Answer, the landlord may move for default judgment by filing a Motion for Default Judgment and an Affidavit of Damages. If the landlord is asking for back rent only, no further hearing will be required. However, if the landlord is also requesting to be reimbursed for damages to the property, unpaid utility bills, etc., the case will be scheduled for a Damage Assessment Hearing. At that hearing, the landlord must provide receipts and testimony regarding the damages in order to have those amounts included in the judgment