How do I protect myself from being evicted again?
First, the most important thing is to make sure you rent a property that you can afford. According to Ohio law, if you don’t pay your rent, you can be evicted -- regardless of any other circumstances. So make sure you understand what your full payment responsibility will be, including rent and utilities, with all the other bills you have to pay each month. And always, always make sure you pay your rent.
Now, there are some things you should do with future rental units. Think of these as ways to protect yourself IN CASE something goes wrong. We always want to hope that it doesn’t, but it’s best to be prepared.
If you sign a lease, make sure you understand everything that’s in it. Don’t just take your landlord’s word for it, even if it’s someone you know or trust -- read it carefully and ask for any changes you don’t understand or agree with.
Document everything. Take pictures of the condition of your home when you move in and when you move out. Ask for receipts for each rent payment you make, and keep them. Keep copies of all communication with your landlord, including emails, texts, and anything on social media. Keep a file of all these things in a safe place in case you need them.
Keep an open line of communication with your landlord. Be polite with them and try to maintain a good relationship. If something does come up, like if you lose your job or have a medical emergency and can’t make your rent payment on time, talk with them about it as soon as you can -- in the best case, BEFORE you miss a rent payment. They may be willing to work with you. If they are, make sure you get any agreement in writing.
Know your rights and protect them. Your landlord has responsibilities to you, just like you have to them. Make sure they follow through with what they’re supposed to do. You can learn more about your rights in our renters’ rights booklet, found here. And if you think your landlord isn’t keeping up their end of the relationship, contact a lawyer to find out what you can do.