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How to Evict a Roommate in Ohio

It can all start out well enough. Someone takes in a friend because he or she needed a place to stay or could help share expenses. Things were fine for a while, but after time, they started to go downhill and now it's time for the roommate to leave. Except he or she won't go. So what to do now? How is a roommate evicted in Ohio?


Evicting a Ohio Roommate is Tricky

As living expenses rise, more people are living together as a way to save money. As a result, more people are discovering that living with a roommate is not all it's cracked up to be.


Some roommates want to get high day and night. Others think it's okay to just stop sharing in expenses. In Ohio, getting rid of an obnoxious roommate, though, depends on a number of factors.

Is the Roommate on the Lease?

If the roommate is on the lease, then the landlord is the only person who can kick the roommate out, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if a roommate is threatening or is violent. If this is the case, then the court can issue a restraining order and the roommate must leave immediately.

Keep in mind that a roommate on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as any other roommate.

What to Do Now?

Unfortunately for Ohio residents, options are limited if a roommate is on the lease. Nicely asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the roommate signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he or she probably cannot be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples might include a roommate having loud parties that interfere with working at home or a roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is that if sued, the roommate may be angry but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the roommate to budge is an option, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent on time and their property is not being destroyed.

An exception would be if the landlord sees that the roommate is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or smokes in the property when smoking is specifically forbidden in the lease.

This can be tricky, though, because the roommate could claim that everyone in the home smokes and the landlord could evict everyone. In Ohio, this is particularly true if a lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the roommate. If this is the case, doing so will take time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving the roommate notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.


For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the roommate has a cat and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the roommate adequate time to find the cat a new home. If the roommate does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be happy with the others in the house.

It is possible, too, that the roommate may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the roommate to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the roommate out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the roommate can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a Ohio Roommate

No matter how annoying a roommate is, there are things that the state of Ohio says cannot legally be done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, no one can threaten him or change the locks so he cannot enter the property. His or her personal property cannot be stolen. If any of this occurs, the person doing these things could wind up looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is the Roommate Not on the Lease?

If a roommate is not on the lease then there are more options for getting rid of him or her.

This is also a tricky area. If the roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then other roommates in the house might be the ones breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, a roommate has the landlord's express or implicit permission to be in the home - many landlords will let a girlfriend or boyfriend stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then the roommate can be evicted.

In Ohio, there are, though, rules to follow. Even without his or her name on a written lease a roommate is still treated as if he or she has a month-to-month lease. Ohio requires giving the roommate at least 30 days notice to find a new place to live and move out. Please check with Ohio's state eviction statutes or talk to an attorney to verfify this timeframe as it may change.


This deadline must be in writing and state why the living arrangement is being terminated and that the roommate is expected to be out of the property within 30 days. Explain why the roommate has to go. A copy of the notice should be sent to the roommate via certified mail so proof exists that he or she got a copy.

If the roommate ignores the eviction notice or thinks he or she has grounds to stay in the unit, then the situation will most likely end up in court. When this happens, the person initiating the eviction must be prepared to state his or case clearly and present any relevant documentation. If the roommate wins the case, he or she can stay in the house. If he or she loses, then he must leave.

If the landlord is aware of the roommate, then asking the landlord for help with the eviction is an option. The downside with this that is the landlord - even a tolerant one - might just decide to evict everyone in the home and start fresh. He would have legal grounds to do so if the roommate is not on the lease because terms of the lease have been broken by having an illegal tenant.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a roommate in Ohio is not easy. Evicting anyone anywhere is not easy, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly endeavor.

Get Help

Ask an Ohio Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to evict a roommate, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced Ohio eviction lawyer before proceeding. One small misstep could mean that the roommate is not the only one looking for a new home.



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