30 days or 3 days: The confusing world of lease terminations

Eviction_NoticeR.C. 5321.11 states that if a tenant fails to fulfill an obligation imposed on him by law the landlord may give the tenant notice that the lease will terminate on a date not less than 30 days after the date the notice is delivered. R.C. 1923.04 provides that a landlord must give three or more days notice before commencing an action for forcible entry and detainer. Clear as mud right?

So which notice do you need to serve on a tenant? Well the answer is a favorite among lawyers: it depends.

Breach of contract v. Breach of obligation

The first question you need to answer: is the Tenant in breach of contract or an obligation imposed by law? Breach of contract violations are going to be found in your rental agreement, the most common of which is the failure to pay rent. While breach of obligations will be found in R.C. 5321.05 and pertain to common sense obligations you would expect of your tenants (keep the apartment relatively clean, use electrical and plumbing fixtures properly).

Once you know if you have a breach of obligation or a breach of contract you can move onto the next step, sending of the notice. The 8th district of appeals laid out a pretty clear cut rule for landlords on this topic, they held, “Accordingly, we conclude today that no thirty-day tenancy termination notice is required by R.C. 5321.11 unless the tenant violates a provision of R.C. 5321.05, and no thirty-day termination notice is required by R.C. 5321.17(B) where the termination is based on the breach of a condition of a rental agreement, i.e., the failure to pay rent as in this case.” Georgetown Park Apts. v. Woernley, 679 N.E.2d 16, 112 Ohio App.3d 428 (Ohio App. 8 Dist., 1996)

This is why having a proper lease is so important to a landlord. If your tenant’s behavior is not directly prohibited in your lease agreement, you are required to give your tenant 30 days to correct their behavior prior to initiating an eviction proceeding (which could take another 21-30 days).

In summary:

Breach of Rental Contract: 3 day notice

Breach of tenant obligation: 30 day notice (+3 day notice).

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