Tenant’s Eviction Process
In Hamilton County, Ohio

How does the eviction system work for tenants?

How can you respond to an eviction? What are your rights when facing an eviction?

A landlord cannot force you to leave your home unless they have an eviction order from the court. They may sue you in court for 2 things: first to evict you from the home, and second to get money they say you owe. 

On this page, find steps to an eviction. Or, explore your options on how best to respond.

Behind on Rent?

Apply for Rental Assistance

Hamilton County CARES Act Resources

Call the Community Action Agency at 513-569-1840, option 4 or visit apply.cincy-caa.org.

Apply online through Jobs and Family Services by visiting https://www.hcjfs.org/services/workforce-development/apply-for-cares/.

Cincinnati Eviction Prevention Funds

Call St. Vincent De Paul: 513-421-0602  

This map shows how an eviction might happen in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Please note that you may be able to stop the eviction process before or after the lawsuit has been filed.

You can try to stop the eviction by:

  1. Working out a Settlement Agreement between the Landlord and the Tenant. Find help on settlements here.
  2. Fixing the Problem, like with the tenant paying back the rent. You may help them seek out financial assistance if they need help paying your rent.
  3. The Tenant could move to another home. Find more details on Moving Out here.

Step1. Get a Notice to Leave from the Landlord

Before your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against you, they must give you a proper Notice to Vacate. 

You may be given a 3- or 30-Day Notice (followed by a 3-day notice) depending on the situation. During this period, you may be able to stop the eviction by:

Step 2. Receive a Complaint and Summons about the eviction lawsuit

If your landlord does decide to sue you, they and the court will notify you with these documents. 

Read the Complaint and Summons documents to get important information:

  • When and where your eviction trial will be, where you can defend yourself
  • Whether your landlord is suing you just to evict you (1st Cause) or if they are also asking for you to pay them money (2nd Cause)
  • How much money they say that you owe them.

Before the Eviction Trial, you can take important steps to protect yourself:

Can you work out a settlement with your landlord outside of court?

You may be able to work out a payment plan or settlement agreement with the landlord, without going to trial.

Working out a plan may help both of you reach your goals outside of court. Find help in reaching an agreement with your landlord.

Step 3. Go to Eviction Trial (1st Cause) and get judgment

The court will hold a trial on whether the landlord can evict you or not. (Any claims on money owed will be held at the later Money Trial.) The court may side with the landlord and issue an eviction order, that they can give to the bailiff to set you out.

The first trial (or hearing) deals with the actual eviction from the home. At this trial, the court will hear your side and the landlord’s side. The court will decide whether to give the landlord an eviction order to remove you or not.

Read more here about defending yourself at an Eviction Trial.

If you work it out with the landlord, then you can tell the judge that you have reached a settlement. This can stop the hearing and end the court process.

If the court decides for you (the tenant) at the eviction trial, the landlord is not allowed to remove you from the home.

If the court decides for the landlord at the eviction trial, then they can get an eviction order to have the bailiff present while you are removed from the home.

  • The landlord cannot evict you immediately.
  • First they must the number of days the judge gives (7, 3 or 0 days). The court will typically not give more time to the tenant after they have decided. 
  • Then the landlord can take this court order to the bailiff to have them initiate the set-out process.
  • At any point, you and the landlord can still work out a settlement agreement for how to stay.
  • Landlords are not allowed to evict tenants themselves. They must have the bailiff present to carry out the eviction.

Step 4: Landlord may schedule a Set Out with Bailiff

If the court has sided with the landlord at the Eviction Trial, then the landlord must wait the specified time (like 0, 3, or 7 days) to schedule an eviction Set Out.

The landlord cannot evict the tenant themselves. They can bring the order to the Bailiff to schedule a Set Out.

At the Set Out, your things may be removed from your home, and the locks may be changed.

Step 5. File an Answer to the Landlord’s Money Claims (2nd Cause)

You must file an Answer to stop the landlord from automatically getting a default judgment to collect the money.

If the landlord is suing you for money (a 2nd Cause), then there will be a second part to the court process.

You have 28 days after being served with the complaint to file an Answer with the court, regarding the money the landlord is seeking. A blank Answer form can be found here.

  • If you do not file an Answer in 28 days, the landlord can file for a Default Judgment. The court may grant them this because you (the defendant) has not responded in time. They can use this judgment to try to collect money from you, including through wage garnishment.
  • If you do file an Answer, then a second trial will be set by the court.
  • You can also file a Counterclaim with the Answer if you believe the landlord owes you money. A blank Counterclaim and Answer can be found here.

Step 6. Go to Money Trial (2nd Cause) and get judgment

At this second trial, the court will hear both sides on what money is owed by whom. They will make a judgment about who can collect money and how much.

Once you file an Answer on the money claims, the court will schedule a Money Trial. At this trial, the court will ask you and the landlord to present evidence and testimony about what money each side owes -- for rent, home damages, living conditions, security deposits, damaged furniture, or other costs.

The court will decide who owes what money, and will issue a judgment for this to be paid.

  • If the court decides for the landlord at the money trial, then they can get a judgment that will allow them to collect money from you the tenant.
  • If the court decides for you (the tenant) at the money trial, then you may either not have to pay the landlord any of the money, or you may get a judgment that will allow the tenant to collect money that the landlord owes you.

Find Legal Help

Get legal information or speak with a free lawyer at the court’s Help Center 

Visit or call the Help Center at 513-946-5650 to get legal information or to make a free 40 minute appointment with a lawyer. They cannot represent you in court. For more information, visit room 113 of the Hamilton County Courthouse or visit https://www.cincyhelpcenter.org

Find a Lawyer to Represent You in Court 

Call Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati at 513-241-9400, or go to https://www.lascinti.org/. You may qualify for a free lawyer. If eligible, Legal Aid could represent you in court.

Hire a private lawyer

Visit https://cincybar.org or call 513-381-8359 for a referral. You can ask them about the Modest Means Program. This may let you get a private lawyer for a more affordable price.

Get accommodation at your court hearing

Request a translator or disability accommodation at your court hearing. 

Call the Hamilton County Municipal Court at 513-946-5200 to make your request.

© 2019 Hamilton County Municipal Help Center