Ashland (OH) Municipal Court

1209 East Main Street, P.O. Box 385, Ashland, OH 44805

Phone: (419) 289-8137 • Fax: (419) 289-8545

 

Civil Division Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 4:30PM

FED/Eviction Administrator
Nicholas Brand
(419) 281-4890, Ext. 1228
nbrand@ashlandmunicourt.com

Fax: (419) 289-8545

Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED)

DISCLAIMER: The following is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give legal advice, nor is it intended to be an exhaustive list of all legal and procedural matters and requirements for a forcible entry and detainer (FED) (commonly referred to as an eviction) action in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court. Court employees cannot give you legal advice. If you have any legal questions about forcible entry and detainer actions, then you should contact an attorney.

If you need help finding legal assistance or legal information, please visit the websites below:

  • Ashland County Bar Association (external link): The Ashland County Bar Association's website lists all attorneys that are currently members of the Ashland County Bar Association, including office contact information and areas of practice.

  • Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (external link): Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. provides legal assistance in civil matters (i.e., collections, evictions, etc.) to eligible low-income individuals and groups in Ashland County, Ohio.

  • Ashland County Law Library (external link): The Ashland County Law Library serves the legal and law-related information needs of local judges, attorneys, county, and municipal officials, as well as the general public, by making numerous legal resources available to its patrons.

What Is a Forcible Entry and Detainer Action?

In Ohio, a forcible entry and detainer (FED) action is the formal name for the legal process most commonly known as an eviction, whereby a real property owner or landlord files legal proceedings to regain possession of real property (such as an apartment, house, or manufactured home) from someone who has wrongfully taken, or refused to surrender, possession of the real property. "Forcible entry and detainer", "FED", and "eviction" are often used interchangably to describe this process.

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1923, Rule 24 of the Local Rules of Court, and Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5321 contain details about FEDs and landlord/tenant obligations and responsibilities. You should read these rules and statutes prior to filing or appearing in an FED case. You must comply with Ohio law and the Local Rules of Court in all FED proceedings.

Jurisdiction

In order to proceed with an FED action in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, the Court must have jurisdiction over your case. The Court has jurisdiction over your FED action only if the subject real property is located in Ashland County, Ohio. Additionally, the Court only has jurisdiction over monetary claims (e.g., unpaid rent, late fees, and damages) that are less than $15,000; any monetary claim greater than $15,000 must be filed separately in the Ashland County Common Pleas Court.

People and Entities That Can Sue

Generally, you may file an FED action in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court if any of the following apply:

  • If you are the owner/landlord of the real property at issue and you are over 18 years of age, then you may file an FED action on your personal behalf;

  • If you are the sole member of a limited liability company (LLC) that owns the real property at issue, then you may file an FED action on behalf of the LLC; or

  • If you are acting pursuant to a power of attorney for the owner of the real property at issue and the power of attorney has been filed with the Ashland County Recorder's Office, then you may file an FED action in your name as attorney-in-fact. You must attach to your FED Complaint a copy of the power of attorney that you are acting pursuant to.

If the real property at issue is owned or managed through a business under a trade name (i.e., "doing business as") that is not registered with the Ohio Secretary of State, or if the property at issue is owned or managed by a corporation, partnership, or a multi-member LLC, then the business, corporation, partnership, or LLC must be represented by an attorney in all FED proceedings. If you advocate in court on behalf of a business or organization, you may violate rules about the unauthorized practice of law, even if all that you do is fill out forms and file documents. To avoid such a violation, contact an attorney to find out what you may and may not do on your organization's behalf. Please note that Court staff cannot advise you on this issue.

FED Procedure for Owners/Landlords

The procedure for filing an FED action in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court is as follows:

Notice to Leave the Premises. You must first fill out and serve a Notice to Leave the Premises on the tenants/occupiers of your real property. A Notice to Leave the Premises contains the tenants'/occupiers' names, the date by which the tenants/occupiers need to leave the premises, your (owner/landlord) name, the address of the real property, and the reasons for the eviction. The Notice to Leave the Premises must be in writing (an oral notice, or a notice delivered by text message or through Facebook, is insufficient), it must be completed and served in accordance with Ohio Revised Code Section 1923.04, and you must provide a copy of the Notice to Leave the Premises to the Court at the time that you file your Complaint.

If the tenants/occupiers have failed to pay rent, then you must give the tenants/occupiers at least three (3) days to leave the premises, not including the date of service of the Notice. For example, if you give the tenants/occupiers a Notice to Leave the Premises on October 1, then you must give them through October 4 to leave, and the earliest possible date that you may proceed with the next step in the process (filling out and filing an FED Complaint and a Precipe for Service on Complaint) would be October 5. For all other grounds for eviction (e.g., having a pet contrary to the terms of the lease, having additional people living at the property contrary to the terms of the lease, etc.), you must give the tenants/occupiers at least thirty (30) days to leave the premises, not including the date of service of the Notice. You may obtain a copy of the Notice to Leave the Premises form from the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, or you may download a copy from the "Resources" page on the Court's website.

FED Complaint and Precipe for Service on Complaint. If the date that you specified in the notice has passed and the tenants/occupiers have not vacated the premises, then you may fill out and file with the Court an FED Complaint and Precipe for Service on Complaint, along with any necessary filing fees.

In the FED Complaint, you will briefly set forth the basis for your eviction claim (the eviction claim is otherwise known as a "first cause of action") and, if necessary, a monetary claim for unpaid rent, late fees, and damages (the monetary claim is otherwise known as a "second cause of action"). Only provide a dollar amount in the second cause of action section of the FED Complaint if you wish to collect money from the tenants/occupiers. Please fill out the FED Complaint form completely. If your complaint is handwritten, then please write legibly in blue or black ink. When filing your FED Complaint, you must attach to your FED Complaint complete copies of any written lease agreements and the Notice to Leave the Premises served upon the tenants/occupiers, as well as any invoices, receipts, accounts, IOUs, bills, memos, notes, letters, or any other documents that support your claims. If you fail to fill out the FED Complaint form completely, if you write illegibly, or if you fail to provide copies of any necessary accompanying documents, then your FED Complaint will be rejected by the Court and it will not be filed. You may obtain a copy of the FED Complaint form from the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, or you may download a copy from the "Resources" page on the Court's website.

In the Precipe for Service on Complaint, you will tell the Court the method(s) to be used to serve your documents on the tenants/occupiers. Please choose from any of the following service options:

  • Personal/Residence/"Door Knob" Service. In addition to service by ordinary mail (certificate of mailing), a court bailiff will make one (1) attempt to perfect personal/residence service on the tenants/occupiers. If this one (1) attempt is not successful (i.e., the tenants/occupiers are not at the premises at the time, refuse to answer the door, etc.) then the bailiff will conspicuously post the FED Complaint, summons, and any accompanying documents at the premises (a.k.a. “door knob” service). Please note that “door knob” service is insufficient service for complaints containing monetary claims. If the bailiff’s one (1) attempt to perfect personal/residence service is not successful and you choose to pursue your monetary claim, then you will have to choose from one (1) of the below options, and incur additional court costs as provided below, to perfect service on the tenants/occupiers. You will be notified of the type of service achieved on the tenants/occupiers at the eviction hearing.

  • Certified Mail. An additional fee of $20.00 per defendant is required. A court clerk will send the FED Complaint, summons, and any accompanying documents to the tenants/occupiers by certified mail. If the certified mail is postmarked by the post office as being “refused” or “unclaimed”, then, at your request, the clerk will resend the FED Complaint, summons and any accompanying documents to the tenants/occupiers by ordinary mail (certificate of mailing).

  • Personal/Residence Service. An additional fee of $50.00 is required (if you require service at two separate addresses, then a fee of $50.00 per address is required). A court bailiff will make multiple attempts to perfect personal/residence service on the tenants/occupiers at the address(es) provided.

Please fill out the Preceipe for Service on Complaint form completely. If your Precipe for Service on Complaint is handwritten, then please write legibly in blue or black ink. If you fail to fill out the Preceipe for Service on Complaint form completely or if you write illegibly, then your Preceipe for Service on Complaint will be rejected by the Court, it will not be filed, and your documents will be served upon the defendants by personal/residence/door knob service. You may obtain a copy of the Preceipe for Service on Complaint form from the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, or you may download a copy from the "Resources" page on the Court's website.

There is an $111.00 fee to file an FED action (including one defendant; this does not include service by certified mail or personal/residence service as indicated on the Precipe for Service on Complaint); there is a $20.00 filing fee for each additional defendant (e.g., an FED action against two defendants would be a $131.00 total filing fee; an FED action against three defendants would be a $151.00 total filing fee). This filing fee is due at the time that you file your FED Complaint and Precipe for Service on Complaint. If you intend to mail your FED Complaint and Precipe for Service on Complaint to the Court, then you must include a check or money order (made payable to the "Ashland Municipal Court") for the correct filing fee along with your FED Complaint, Preceipe for Service on Complaint, and all other necessary documents. If you intend to file your documents in person at the Court, then you may pay the appropriate filing fee by cash, check, or money order. Please note that the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court does not accept credit card payments for filing fees. If you fail to provide the appropriate filing fee for your FED action, then it will be rejected by the Court and it will not be filed with the Court.

Once the Court has received your FED Complaint, Precipe for Service on Complaint, any necessary accompanying documents, and the appropriate filing fee, a court clerk will timestamp and file your documents, process your filing fee, mail your documents to the tenants/occupiers (either by ordinary mail or by certified mail, if requested on Precipe for Service on Complaint), and deliver them to a court bailiff for the type of service specified in your Preceipe for Service on Complaint. You will also receive copies of all of these documents by ordinary mail. The summons will tell you the date and time that you will need to appear in Court. This date and time will be approximately 2 to 3 weeks after the filing date.

Additionally, these documents will contain your case number. All of your communications about your FED case must include the case number that appears on the documents that you received from the Court. All FED case numbers contain ten characters, starting with the last two digits of the year in which your case was originally filed, followed by "CVG", and then followed by a five digit number with up to four "0" placeholders (e.g., 09CVG00001, 12CVG00123, or 16CVG01234). If your communications do not include your case number, then the Court may not be able to effectively assist you.

Eviction (First Cause of Action) Hearing, Eviction Date, and Set Out. The first hearing you will have is the eviction hearing. You must appear at the eviction hearing. At this hearing, it is your responsibility to give the magistrate the facts and to convince the magistrate that he should decide in your favor. Prior to the hearing, you will want to collect your evidence and contact your witnesses. Your evidence may include:

  • Your testimony.

  • Witness testimony. If a witness will not testify voluntarily, you may ask the Court to order the witness to testify by subpoena. There is a $50.00 fee for each subpoena prepared and served by the Court. If you require the Court's assistance in preparing and serving a subpoena, then you should notify the Court at least seven days prior to the hearing at which the witness is expected to testify.

  • Documents, such as contracts, invoices, receipts, accounts, IOUs, bills, memos, notes, letters, postal return receipts, unclaimed letter notices, etc.

  • Photographs, drawings, or diagrams, such as those evidencing damage done to your property.

  • Any other physical item relevant to proving your case.

Bring your evidence and voluntary witnesses with you to the Court on the day of the hearing. Your witnesses must appear in person; the Court will not accept written statements from witnesses and the Court does not allow witnesses to appear by telephone. Additionally, please bring with you enough copies of any documents, photographs, drawings, or diagrams, for all other parties and for the Court.

Your case will likely be one of many scheduled on that particular day. Please wait patiently in the lobby; a court bailiff will announce your name in the lobby once the Court is ready to hear your case. When talking about your case in Court, you should be brief and you should stick to the facts. The magistrate may occasionally interrupt you with questions; please answer the magistrate's questions directly and to the best of your knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, you should be polite to the magistrate, court staff, all witnesses, and any opposing parties, and, although you will surely be arguing passionately, do not let your temper get the best of you. Good manners, a calm attitude, and an orderly presentation of your case will promote a fair and efficient hearing and will make a positive impression with all involved.

After hearing from all parties involved, the magistrate will determine whether you will be granted restitution of the premises (i.e., whether the tenants/occupiers should be evicted). If the tenants/occupiers are to be evicted, then the magistrate will determine a date by which the tenants/occupiers will have to vacate the property; typically, this date is six or seven days after the date of your eviction hearing. This date, along with additional information relevant to the eviction proceedings, will be set forth in a magistrate's decision, judgment order, writ of execution, and notice to vacate issued by the Court. If the tenants/occupiers are to be evicted and they appear at the eviction hearing, then they will be served with these documents at the hearing. If the tenants/occupiers are to be evicted and they do not appear at the eviction hearing, then a court clerk will mail copies of the magistrate's decision and judgment order to the last known address for the tenants/occupiers, and a court bailiff will post the writ of execution and notice to vacate at the premises.

If the tenants/occupiers completely vacate the premises prior to the date established by the magistrate at the eviction hearing, then you may enter the premises to change the locks, clean, assess damages, etc. If the tenants/occupiers have not completely vacated the premises, then you may not enter the premises. You should not take action yourself to remove the tenants/occupiers or their personal property from the premises. If the tenants/occupiers or their personal property remain on the premises after the date and time established by the magistrate at the eviction hearing, then you must fill out and file with the Court a Precipe for Execution of the Writ of Execution by Set Out, along with a $75.00 filing fee. After filing a Precipe for Execution of the Writ of Execution by Set Out, a court bailiff will contact you to coordinate a date and time to conduct a "set out" or "move out" of the tenants/occupiers and their personal property. Please note that the court bailiff merely supervises the set out process; you must provide the personnel (e.g., movers, locksmith) and/or equipment required for the set out. If you fail to provide the proper personnel and equipment for the set out, then the court bailiff will cancel the set out; it may be several days before the set out is rescheduled.

Monetary Claim (Second Cause of Action) Hearing. Additionally, assuming that you included a monetary claim in your original FED Complaint and that personal/residence service or certified mail service was perfected on the tenants/occupiers, the Court may schedule a hearing on your monetary claim (this hearing is otherwise known as a "second cause of action hearing"). You must appear at the monetary claim hearing. At this hearing, it is your responsibility to give the magistrate the facts and to convince the magistrate that he should decide in your favor. Prior to the hearing, you will want to collect your evidence and contact your witnesses as you would have done for the eviction hearing. Bring your evidence and voluntary witnesses with you to the Court on the day of the hearing. Your witnesses must appear in person; the Court will not accept written statements from witnesses and the Court does not allow witnesses to appear by telephone. Additionally, please bring with you enough copies of any documents, photographs, drawings, or diagrams, for all other parties and for the Court.

What to Do If Someone Has Filed an FED Action (Eviction) Against You

If someone has filed a forcible entry and detainer (FED)/eviction complaint against you, you will receive a copy of the FED Complaint, any necessary accompanying documents, a summons, and a Notice of Abandonment from the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court. These documents will give you important information, such as the name and address of the plaintiff(s) or the plaintiff'(s)' attorney, the basis for the eviction claim (the eviction claim is otherwise known as a "first cause of action") and the amount of any monetary claim (the monetary claim is otherwise known as a "second cause of action"), the location of the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, and the date and time that you must appear in Court for the eviction hearing.

Depending on what you believe about the claims made against you, you have the following general options:

  • If you believe that the plaintiff's eviction claim is fair, then it may be in your best interest to move out as soon as possible. When moving out, be sure to: (1) notify the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney of your intention to move; (2) remove all of your personal property (i.e., furniture, mattresses, trash, etc.) from the premises or otherwise dispose of it properly; (3) turn in your keys; and (4) notify the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney that you have, in fact, moved out. If you have completed all of the above steps prior to the eviction hearing, then the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney will notify the Court; the eviction claim may be dismissed and the eviction hearing may be canceled. However, if a monetary claim has been filed against you along with the eviction claim, then you should file an answer (i.e., a written response to the allegations contained in the monetary claim of the FED Complaint) in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court. See the "Consequences of Failure to Appear or File an Answer" section below.

  • If you believe that the plaintiff's eviction claim is illegal, unfair, and/or unjustified, then you should appear at the date and time provided in the documents that you received from the Court. You will be able to address the fairness of the plaintiff's eviction claims in Court in front of the magistrate.

  • If you believe that the plaintiff's monetary claim is fair, then you may pay the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney the full amount of the claim, plus filing fees, and that should be the end of the matter.

  • If you believe that part of the plaintiff's monetary claim is fair, or if you believe that the plaintiff's claim is completely unfair and/or unjustified, then you must either: (1) appear at the date and time provided in the documents that you received from the Court, and the Court will schedule a separate hearing to address the monetary claim; or (2) file an answer in the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court. See the "Consequences of Failure to Appear or File an Answer" section below.

  • If you believe that the plaintiff actually owes you money, then you may file a "counterclaim" of your own against the plaintiff.

  • If the plaintiff has named multiple defendants and you have a monetary claim against one of those defendants, then you may file a "crossclaim" against that defendant.

  • If the plaintiff's claim does not include some parties that are necessary to resolve the dispute, then you may add those necessary parties to the case by filing a "third party complaint" against them.

You may obtain a copy of the Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, and Third Party Complaint forms from the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court, or you may download a copy of these forms from the "Resources" page on the Court's website. Please fill out the Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint form completely. If your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint is handwritten, then please write legibly in blue or black ink. When filing your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint with the Court, you must attach complete copies of contracts, invoices, receipts, accounts, IOUs, bills, memos, notes, letters, postal return receipts, unclaimed letter notices, or any other documents that support your claim. If you fail to fill out the form completely, if you write illegibly, or if you fail to provide copies of any necessary accompanying documents, then your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint will be rejected by the Court and it will not be filed with the Court.

Please pay special attention to the following when filing your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint:

  • Your case number. All of your communications about your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint must include the case number that appears on the documents that you received from the Court. All FED case numbers contain ten characters, starting with the last two digits of the year in which the case was originally filed by the plaintiff, followed by "CVG", and then followed by a five digit number with up to four "0" placeholders (e.g., 09CVG00001, 12CVG00123, or 16CVG01234). If your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint does not include your case number, then the Court may not be able to properly file your documents or the case may be delayed.

  • Your claims. You must be able to explain why you believe each claim is justified and you must be prepared to present evidence in support of your claim.

  • Third parties. If you believe that an additional party or parties should be brought in the claim because they are liable for all or part of the claim - either along with you or instead of you - you need to file a Third Party Complaint. You will have to provide a name and address for each additional party that you would like to add (see "People and Entities That Can Sue" above), as well as your reasons why each party should be brought into the case.

  • Deadlines for filing. As stated on the summons that you should have received from the Court at the onset of the eviction case, your Answer must be filed with the Court within thirty-one (31) days of your receipt of the summons, exclusive of the date of service. For example, if you received the summons on October 1, then your Answer must be received by the Court no later than November 2. Your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint must be filed with the Court at least seven days prior to the date of a scheduled hearing on the plaintiff's original monetary claim (this hearing is otherwise known as a "second cause of action hearing"). For example, if you have a second cause of action hearing scheduled for Monday, October 31, then your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint must be received by the Court by Friday, October 21.

  • Your signature. If you intend to mail your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint to the Court, then you must date and sign the document prior to mailing.

  • Court costs. There is no filing fee to file an Answer. There is a $30.00 fee to file a Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint (including one party to be served); there is a $20.00 filing fee for each additional person that needs to be served (e.g., a Counterclaim against two plaintiffs would be a $50.00 total filing fee; a Crossclaim against three co-defendants would be a $70.00 total filing fee). This filing fee is due at the time that you file your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint. If you intend to mail your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint to the Court, then you must include a check or money order (made payable to the "Ashland Municipal Court") for the correct filing fee along with your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint and all other necessary documents. If you intend to file your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint in person at the Court, then you may pay the appropriate filing fee by cash, check, or money order. Please note that the Civil Division of the Ashland Municipal Court does not accept credit card payments for filing fees. If you fail to provide the appropriate filing fee for your Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint, then it will be rejected by the Court and it will not be filed with the Court.

Once the Court has received your Answer, Counterclaim, Crossclaim, or Third Party Complaint, any necessary accompanying documents, and any appropriate filing fee, a court clerk will timestamp and file your documents, process your filing fee, and mail copies of your documents to all parties; you will also receive copies of all of these documents by ordinary mail. These documents may contain a rescheduled date for your next hearing; please read them carefully.

As far as what to expect in the remainder of the eviction process, please refer to the "Eviction (First Cause of Action) Hearing, Eviction Date, and Set Out" and "Monetary Claim (Second Cause of Action) Hearing" topics in the "FED Procedure for Owners/Landlords" section above.

Consequences of Failure to Appear

If you are the plaintiff and you fail to appear at either the eviction hearing or at the hearing on your monetary claim, then your eviction claim and/or your monetary claim may be dismissed, and, if the defendant filed a counterclaim against you, judgment may be entered against you by default. If you are the defendant and you fail to appear at the eviction hearing, then you will not have an opportunity to respond to the plaintiff's grounds for evicting you and it is likely that the Court will evict you. If you are the defendant and you fail to appear at the monetary claim hearing or if you fail to file an answer, then a monetary judgment may be entered against you by default, and, if you filed a counterclaim, crossclaim, or third party complaint, it may be dismissed.

If you cannot attend the eviction hearing or monetary claim hearing on the originally scheduled date at the originally scheduled time, you must contact the Court immediately. Similarly, if you will be late for a hearing/trial but still intend to appear, you must contact the Court immediately.

Appeals

As stated above, following the eviction (first cause of action) and the monetary claim (second cause of action) hearings, you will receive a magistrate's decision and a judgment order issued by the judge that adopts the magistrate's decision. The timely filing of written objections to the magistrate's decision will stay this judgment order. If a party files written objections to the magistrate's decision, then the judge will carefully review the magistrate's decision, any written objections, and any written responses to those objections before issuing a final judgment order in your case. This final judgment order may completely adopt the magistrate's decision or it may modify the magistrate's decision. You may appeal this final judgment order to the Court of Appeals. Due to the complicated procedures and strict time constraints involved in filing an appeal, you will likely require the assistance of an attorney in order to appeal your case to the Court of Appeals.

Collecting on a Judgment

For additional information on how to collect on a judgment, please refer to the "Collecting on a Judgment" page.