Ohio Revised Code section 1923.10 gives a residential tenant a right to demand a jury trial in an eviction case. Unfortunately, Ohio does not allow a landlord to include a provision in the lease that waives a tenant’s right to a jury trial. So a tenant, if aware, has a powerful tool in the event an eviction is filed. As most landlords are aware, jury trials are a very frustrating process.
Avoiding eviction jury trials is impossible in Ohio. However, minimizing your exposure to juries can be accomplished with good policies and planning. Jury trials for nonpayment evictions are rare, assuming the tenant is actually in default of rent. Jury trial requests are more common for lease violations and noncompliance with Ohio law. Subsidized housing is also subject to a disproportionate amount of jury demands due to legal aid’s involvement.
Avoiding jury trials is a function of good policies, planning, and communication with tenants. First, understanding the difference in notice requirements for a lease violation and a statutory tenant duty is important. A lease violation does not require a notice to cure the issue. A tenant’s violation of a statutory duty under ORC 5321.05 does require notice to cure the violation before an eviction action can begin. All violations of any kind should be well documented with written and photographic evidence when possible. You may be presenting this evidence to a jury. When a jury doesn’t have evidence outside the landlord’s statement it is easy to side with a tenant considering the burden of proof is on the landlord.
The best way to handle an eviction is to consult with an attorney. For questions about your eviction process contact J. Thomas Hodges at 513-421-8454 or tom@jthlaw.com