Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony RequiredClient Alert
Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly. On September 3, 2020, the Tenth District Court of Appeals issued a decision holding that landlords and property managers must provide live testimony, as opposed to an affidavit, in order to evict a tenant. T&R Properties, Inc. v. Wimberly, 10th Dist. Franklin No. 19AP-567, 2020-Ohio-4279. This decision comes after the August 2019 eviction of Traci Wiberly, who was evicted from her Canal Winchester Apartment following a hearing in which neither she nor her landlord were present. Judgment was granted in favor of the landlord based solely on an affidavit, with no live testimony presented by either party in court.
This decision overruled the 32-year old precedent set forth in Oakbrook Realty Corp. v. Blout, which was long interpreted by the Franklin County Municipal Court to “grant judgment on a forcible entry and detainer claim relying solely on the statements contained in an affidavit without any testimony being offered in open court. Wimberly at ¶46 citing Oakbrook Realty Corp v. Blout, 48 Ohio App. 3d 69 (Ohio Ct. App. 1988). The Wimberly decision rewrites a longstanding policy in Franklin County Municipal Court eviction proceedings. Now, live testimony must be given by the landlord and/or property manager in open court in an eviction proceeding, unless an enumerated exception applies. See Wimberly at ¶37.
If you have questions or need more information regarding the potential impact of the Wimberly decision, please contact your primary BMD attorney.