Tip #1 – How to get a quicker eviction hearing? – In Franklin County, Ohio, an eviction hearing usually takes place three weeks after the date that you have filed the complaint. Many landlords don’t realize that they can ask for an eviction hearing to occur in a shorter time frame. How do you go about this? On your civil cover sheet, simply indicate that you desire a hearing in 14 days and your eviction will be scheduled for two weeks after that date of filing the complaint.
Tip #2 – Should I bother with seeking money damages? – Most landlords never bother with trying to squeeze blood from a stone. In other words, landlords realize that if they are evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent, it is very unlikely that they will ever see any of the money that the tenant owes them. Some landlords do, however, pursue the tenants for money damages. If you want to do so, make sure you find out where the tenant moved to or where the tenant works so that you can have them served for the money damages.
Tip #3 – What should I do once I’m at the eviction hearing? – Once you have checked in with the bailiff, determine if the tenant has arrived at court. If the tenant shows up to court, you should go over to the tenant and try to work something out. Most landlords just want the tenant out of the rental unit by the time the eviction hearing rolls around. Landlords do not want to try and resolve anything else at this point in time. Sometimes, the first question out of the magistrate’s mouth is whether the parties have had a chance to talk to try and resolve the matter. If you say no, the court is likely to make you go out in the hall and discuss settlement. If you are unable to resolve the matter, the court may move your case to the back of the line. At this point, you get to hurry up and wait. Next time you head to an eviction hearing, make an effort to resolve the matter with the tenant before your case is called.
Tip #4 – Have a settlement agreement drawn up in advance – If you are going to talk settlement with your tenant, consider having a standard form settlement agreement drawn up in advance. Leave blanks where you can fill in dollar amounts and dates. You can whip this out when the judge asks you if you had a chance to talk with the tenant. You can respond that you did and offered a settlement agreement but the tenant would not agree to it.
Tip #5 – Real Party in Interest issues – I once had a case where the tenant was actually a property manager and didn’t live in the rental unit. He merely signed a lease and then rerented the rental unit to another tenant – pretty much a sublease situation. The property manager collected rents from the sublessee but didn’t hand over those rents to the landlord. The landlord filed an eviction against the property manager. The landlord didn’t know the name of the sublessee so didn’t include that on the eviction complaint. The property manager requested the court to set aside the eviction because the landlord had personally named the property manager as the defendant in the eviction action. The property manager argued that his corporation had signed the lease and not him; therefore, the landlord had sued the wrong party. The property manager claimed that the landlord should have sued/sought to evict the corporation because the corporation signed the lease. According to the property manager, the real party in interest was the corporation and not him.
The Franklin County Court of Appeals has held that Civ. R. 17 (Real Party in Interest) does not apply to forcible entry and detainer actions. Oakbrook Realty Corp. v. Harris (April 30, 1991), Franklin App. No. 89AP-819, unreported at 2 (holding Civ.R. 17 is inapplicable to forcible entry and detainer). “Furthermore, application of Civ.R. 17 to actions under Chapter 1923 would hinder the accelerated resolution mandated by statute, by permitting the defendant to interpose irrelevant defenses. See R.C.1923.08.” Alexbell Oxford Limited Partnership dba Steeplechase Apartments v. Woods (June 5, 1998), 1998 WL 289028 (Ohio App. 2 Dist.).
The court didn’t buy the property manager’s claim either.