Here are Frequently Asked Questions about evictions, code violations and mediation.


Yes. In Ohio, a landlord of residential premises cannot physically remove the tenant from the premises, terminate utilities, or change the locks to encourage a tenant to move from the premises. This is called “self-help” and is illegal in Ohio. A landlord must file a complaint against the tenant, go to court, be granted a judgment, and follow the court-instituted eviction procedure to remove the tenant from the premises.

No. The Court may limit the number of move-outs which may take place around the Christmas and New Year holidays because of staff limitations. The Court, however, performs court-supervised move-outs five days a week, all 12 months of the year.

For a simple nonpayment case, a tenant may be evicted within less than five weeks: The landlord must serve the three-day notice, then wait three business days. The landlord then files the complaint with the Clerk of Courts. The court date is set for three weeks from the date of filing. Then, if the eviction is granted, the move-out may take place within seven days from the date of hearing. The process in that case would be completed in approximately five weeks.

No. Tenants who are evicted generally are given seven days to move from the premises. Under very limited circumstances, the Court may shorten that time: when there has been significant police activity at the premises, evidence of drug activity, or evidence that the tenants pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of the landlord or other tenants.

Yes. Tenants who participate in federal subsidy programs, including the Section 8 programs, are afforded special protection under Federal law. As a general rule, subsidized housing tenants are entitled to written notice of their opportunity to meet with the management, and an opportunity to meet with the management. They also may be entitled to an opportunity to correct their conduct before the landlord may file an eviction action. The specific requirements vary with each of the subsidized or “Section 8” programs. A landlord interested in evicting a Section 8 tenant should first know the type of Section 8 or subsidy involved. Second, the landlord should read carefully the lease and contract, which has been signed. Finally, because both federal and state laws apply to Section 8 evictions, the court recommends that Section 8 landlords obtain legal advice from an attorney before filing an eviction against a tenant in a federal subsidy program.

No. In Ohio, a tenant whose landlord refuses or fails to make repairs cannot withhold their rent. However, the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice of the defective conditions or repairs requested. Then, if the landlord does not make the repairs in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant may deposit her rent with the Court. You can get more information about rent deposit from the Housing Court Specialists on the 13th Floor of the Justice Center.

As a general rule, move-outs may be scheduled as early as seven days from the date of the court hearing. The magistrate may, under extreme circumstances, extend the move-out by a few days. However, there is not an automatic extension because the tenant has children, an elderly parent, etc.

There is no automatic extension of time for move-outs for elderly tenants. The Housing Court does work with the City of Cleveland Department of Aging to assist senior citizens in finding new housing. Seniors interested in this assistance should let the Judge, magistrate or a housing court specialist know of their interest no later than the day of their court hearing. They may also contact the Department of Aging directly at (216) 664-2833.

Mediation offers parties an opportunity to resolve their dispute without the intervention by the Court. In mediation, the parties sit down with a mediator, who is a neutral third party, and try to reach an agreement regarding their dispute. The mediator will help the parties put the agreement in writing. Many parties find that they can abide by an agreement they help write. In most cases, if the parties wish, the agreement may be enforceable by the Court.

By its nature, the Court, when deciding cases, must decide that one party wins and one party loses. The parties, however, may be able to reach middle ground, or resolution, which would give both parties some of the relief they are seeking. The Court may recognize from the testimony of the parties that an agreement may be possible. The Court may recommend mediation to those parties. In addition, the Court may suggest mediation when it appears that the parties would be better served by an agreement than a Court judgment. Both parties must agree to send their case to mediation.

Mediation is available to landlords and tenants upon request. The Court’s mediation office is on the 15th Floor of the Justice Center and can be reached at (216) 664-4926. It is not necessary to file a court case to request mediation.

The Housing Court employs Housing Court Specialists to assist landlords and tenants with questions about housing court procedure. The specialists also provide the public with general information about the Ohio Landlord Tenant Act and the City of Cleveland codified ordinances. The specialists are not attorneys and cannot give parties specific advice about pleadings or defenses. They do, however, provide the parties with valuable information and are a good place to start if you have questions. The specialists are on the 13th Floor of the Justice Center. They are available on a first come, first served basis, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Code Violation Case

Yes. Complaints filed by the City of Cleveland for alleged violations of the City’s Health, Housing, Building, Fire, or Safety Codes are criminal misdemeanor cases.

Yes. The maximum penalty for a first degree misdemeanor in Cleveland is a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. Each day a property is found to be in noncompliance with the City code represents a separate offense for which the defendant may receive the maximum penalty. The maximum penalty for a minor misdemeanor (a ticketed offense) is a $100 fine. In addition, the sentence for a first-degree misdemeanor may include Court-supervised probation or a specified number of community service hours to perform.

As a defendant in a criminal case, you have the right to be represented by an attorney, and the right to a reasonable postponement of your case to allow you to hire one. If the court determines that you cannot afford an attorney, the court will arrange to have an attorney assigned to represent you at no cost. You must let the Judge know at the beginning of your hearing if you want an attorney but cannot afford one.

While you have the right to be represented by an attorney, you are not required to have one. Many defendants appear without an attorney, called appearing “pro se.” You may wish to consult with an attorney before your hearing to decide whether you would like an attorney to appear with you in court.

In sentencing a defendant for code violations, the Judge considers a number of factors. They may include the nature of the violations, the severity of the violations, the length of time the violations have existed, the attempts made by the defendant to remedy the violations, the cost of repair of the violations, and whether the repairs have been completed. The Judge may also consider whether the premises are owner-occupied or rental property. The Judge may consider the defendant’s income, and if the premises are rental property, the number of units occupied, and the rent being collected. The Judge will consider the recommendation of the City prosecutor regarding the sentence and may consider input from other interested parties, including neighbors. The ultimate sentence, however, is determined by the Judge.

Yes. The City may file criminal charges against one, some, or all of the owners of real property. Many times, however, if one spouse comes to court and pleads guilty or no contest, the City may “nolle,” or dismiss, the case against the other spouse. If you are interested in taking responsibility for the premises and asking that the case against your spouse be dismissed, discuss this with the City prosecutor when your case is called.

Yes. In code violation cases, the City may choose to cite and bring criminal charges against the owner, the owner’s agent or other person in control of the premises, or both.

No. The issue before the court is whether you were in control of the property as of the compliance date alleged in the complaint. Selling or transferring the property does not necessarily absolve you of criminal liability. However, if you sold the property before you were cited, you should bring a certified copy of the deed, showing the transfer date, with you to court.

YES. DO NOT IGNORE YOUR COURT DATE. IF YOU FAIL TO COME TO COURT, A WARRANT MAY BE ISSUED FOR YOUR ARREST. The legal issue before the court is whether the violations alleged existed as of the compliance date. The Judge may consider repairs completed after the compliance date when deciding upon a sentence; however, repairs done after the compliance date may not constitute a defense to the charge. In addition, while you may know that repairs have been made, the information may not reach the City inspector, City prosecutor and, most importantly, the Judge if you do not come to court. If you have made the requested repairs, bring photographs showing the work with you to court.

The code violations prosecuted in Housing Court are criminal violations. A finding of guilty will appear on your record as a criminal conviction. If all of the following apply, you may be entitled to have the record of your conviction sealed. It must be at least one year after your conviction (or the end of your probation, whichever is later), you must have no prior or subsequent criminal convictions, and there must be no criminal proceedings pending against you. If you meet these requirements, you may file a motion, that is, a written request, to have your record sealed. The court will review the motion and consider any objections by the City prosecutor. If the court is satisfied that all requirements are met and that sealing the record would be in the interest of justice, the court will order the record sealed. However, if you are later convicted of a similar offense, the sealed record may be considered by the court in that subsequent case. Sealed records generally remain accessible by law enforcement officials. However, the sealing of your record would allow you to truthfully state in an application for employment that you do not have any criminal convictions on your record, unless conviction bears a direct and substantial relationship to the position for which you are being considered.

The Housing Court employs Housing Court Specialists to assist the public with information about Ohio law and the City of Cleveland codified ordinances. The Judge may assign a Housing Court Specialist to assist a criminal defendant in locating sources of financing or grants to complete needed home repairs. Specialists assist the court by monitoring progress of work and reporting that progress to the court. The Specialists are on the 13th floor of the Justice Center. They are available on a first-come-first-served basis, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you are interested in having a Housing Court Specialist assigned to your criminal case, ask the Judge at the time of your court hearing.


If you have a virtual hearing scheduled, please refer to the attached advisory that explains how to prepare for a ZOOM proceeding.


Mediation is a voluntary process where the parties can sit together to work out a settlement to the dispute without a court hearing. The mediator is there to assist as a neutral and impartial member of the housing court staff.

A mediator gives you and the other party a chance to tell your side of the story and then helps you work out a settlement that is acceptable to both parties.

A settlement is whatever both parties agree to in order to resolve their dispute. Both parties sign a settlement agreement that states what they will do.

You are not required to agree in mediation, and if you cannot, the mediator will discuss with you and the other party what other options you may have for solving the problem. The mediator cannot provide legal advice. If a formal case has been filed, then the dispute will be sent back to court for a hearing.

Both parties must attend the mediation. You may have a friend or lawyer present to assist you. However, only the parties involved in the dispute can talk and make a settlement.

No. You may have your lawyer attend if you would like. However, court procedures are not followed during mediation. The mediator does not find a solution, but the parties do.

If the dispute concerns a provision of the lease, the payment of rent, or conditions of the unit, you should bring a copy of the document, any bills or receipts relating to the dispute, photos or any relevant documents. You should not bring any witnesses.

No. Whatever you say during the course of mediation is confidential and may not be used in court. However, the mediator is not bound by confidentiality on the issue of child abuse, elder abuse and/or admission of a crime.

Mediation is available during all scheduled eviction hearings. Inform the mediator or the bailiff upon entering the courtroom that you are interested in mediating. Mediation is automatically scheduled for all rent escrow accounts. Mediation may be available for other scheduled civil cases, such as money claims. Please contact a Housing Court Specialist for further information at 216-664-4295.

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