Properties Magazine February 2017 : Page 57

Legal Services When Can Landlords Take Matters into their Own Hands? Examining landlords’ self-help rights in commercial & residential leases By Robert Fuerst Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis common dilemma which confronts landlords is what to do when a tenant defaults under its lease. Can the landlord take matters into his own hands and lock the tenant out of its space or must the landlord proceed to evict the tenant through the courts? A The answer to this question depends on whether the tenant is a residential tenant or a commercial tenant. No self-help for residential landlords If the tenant is a residential tenant, the answer is easy. Ohio Revised Code Section 5321.15(A) provides: “No landlord of residential premises shall initiate any act, including termination of utilities or services, exclusion from the premises, or threat of any unlawful act, against tenant, or a tenant whose right to possession has terminated, for the purpose of recovering possession of the residential premises, other than as provided in chapters 1923, 5303 and 5321 of the Revised Code.” Those are the Code sections that govern a landlord or landowner’s ability to recover possession by judicial means. So, residential landlords are expressly barred from exercising self-help to evict a tenant. The landlord must go through the statutorily prescribed pro-cess known in Ohio as “Forcible Entry and Detainer.” Under this process the landlord must first provide whatever notices of default are required under the lease. If the landlord does that, or if there is no written lease or no requirement to provide notice in the lease, the landlord must then serve the tenant with a “three-day notice,” which must be served by cer-tified mail, personal delivery to the tenant, or left at the residence from which the tenant is to be evicted. The notice must conspicuously con-tain the following language: “You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recom-mended that you seek legal assistance.” Assuming the tenant does not cure the default (and the landlord should not accept any future rent after the notices served or the notice will be Thoughtful, Proactive Legal Representation for Industrial, Commercial & Residential Real Estate Contact our attorneys today to learn why we are one of Cleveland’s most respected providers of Real Estate legal services. Peter D. Brosse (Chair, Business & Corporate Group) Hunter W. Benson David V. Croft Bryan J. Dardis Robert A. Fuerst Michael B. Gardner* Janice A. Isakoff Scott M. Lewis Daniel N. Steiger* *Of Counsel 28601 Chagrin Blvd., Suite 500 Cleveland, OH 44122 Phone: 216.831.0042 www.meyersroman.com www.propertiesmag.com 57

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