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How To Prepare For An Ohio Eviction Hearing

Written by:
Alice Garcia
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If you have to evict a problematic tenant, this could lead to a court hearing. There are many types of eviction notices to keep in mind, but there’s no going back once you serve the final document. In this guide, we show you how to prepare for your upcoming eviction case.

Why Hearing Preparations Are Important

If the tenant disputes the eviction, you’ll likely need to take this case to court. You must be ready for this possibility long before you serve a notice. Start to collect evidence as soon as you notice problematic behavior; this could be a sign of things to come.

It’s easy to think you have an ironclad case from the very beginning, but hearings can go in any direction. Never go in expecting an easy win, or else you’re sure to lose. Judges take more than a lease agreement violation into account when deciding their verdict.

Tips For Your Ohio Eviction Hearing

Your eviction case will only succeed if you follow the right guidance. Should the judge rule in favor of the tenant, they’ll be able to stay at the property. This could simply cause tensions to grow even further. Here are six important tips for the hearing:

1. Dress Appropriately

Show you take the case just as seriously as the judge — your first impression always matters in the courtroom. Dress in business clothing, but it isn't necessary for you to wear a full suit and tie.

So long as you avoid jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, or anything else that's too informal, you should be fine. If you dress semi-formally, you’ll command respect and even show yourself as a reputable business owner.

2. Respect The Judge

The way you conduct yourself in court speaks volumes about your character and may affect the result. If you are impolite or argumentative, the judge will be more likely to side with the tenant’s own grievances.

Your respect towards the judge, and the case at large, shows you understand just how impartial the process is. It even demonstrates that you know you might be wrong, and will accept a verdict of any kind.

3. Never Interrupt

Along similar lines, do not interrupt either the judge, tenant, or any other relevant speakers. You must wait for your turn. You’ll still have the opportunity to refute the tenant and give your side of the story.

Depending on the interruption, the judge might find your actions to be in contempt of court. This makes it very difficult to argue your case, and will even damage your credibility as a fair property owner.

4. Check Local Legislation

Research Ohio’s eviction guidelines before your hearing — this will help you predict the tenant’s arguments. For example, if you didn’t serve the necessary 3-day notice to quit first, they will likely mention this.

In Ohio, you will have between seven and 30 days to prepare for your eviction hearing. You can then postpone it for a further eight days. This lets you make the most of your time before court.

5. Collect Evidence

Document every piece of evidence you have against the tenant, making copies along the way to be safe. It is entirely possible that keeping proof of even the smallest transgression will sway the court in your favor.

Keep records of your correspondence with tenants, including your initial attempts to fix the issue without resorting to eviction. Payment records, photos of damages, and the lease itself will also be useful documents to bring.

6. Always Be Honest

This should be obvious to anybody in the courtroom, but never lie or otherwise misrepresent the case. If the renter proves you’re being dishonest, this could sink the whole case; and might even count as perjury.

When the truth isn’t enough to win the case, this likely means the tenant has grounds to dispute the eviction. You should also be honest with yourself, and ask if an eviction is the answer.

Always Try To Avoid Evictions

It’s usually possible to resolve most tenant-landlord disputes before the eviction stage. This can save you both time and money while preserving your relationship with the renter. A 3-day notice to quit is often all it takes to show tenants that you want to find common ground.

Never default to an eviction notice as your first step, even after the first couple of warnings. This might be a hasty move that won’t hold up in the courtroom. These hearings aren’t just about the tenant’s behavior. They are also a reflection on your conduct and credibility as a landlord.

If the relationship between you and your tenant (or tenants) breaks down, an eviction might then be your only option. Serve the correct type of eviction notice and always follow Ohio state laws. Beyond this, there’s no better way to prepare than being honest and respecting court etiquette.

By Liliana Alvarez

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