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Fairview Park family unsure of where to go after apartment complex gives 3-day eviction notice

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Posted at 10:57 PM, Feb 24, 2022

FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — A Fairview Park woman is facing eviction after receiving a three-day notice to pack up her family and leave the apartment complex.

Melissa Wilson has lived at Lawn Village Apartments in Fairview Park for nearly seven years.

“We loved it here. We have a sign on the front of our door that says ‘this is our happy place,’ and it was,” she said.

But now it no longer feels like a happy place for herself, her husband, and her three young sons.

“It was a great place for us and then it took a turn,” she said.

She said around May, apartment management cited her for a noise violation when she had her son’s 5th birthday party.

But then, she said petty complaints started coming more regularly.

“They started sending me notices for my garbage in the back, which they switched garbage companies and they weren’t specific on what they had to do,” she said.

Then she received a violation that her 10-year-old son couldn’t sleep in the basement, so she moved his room upstairs. She said she was shocked and confused when she received a violation that two other adults lived in the house, because she said that isn’t true, and it’s only her three kids and her husband who live there.

But the shock turned to sadness when she found a notice on her door on Feb. 14 that she had three days to leave the apartment she’s been in for years.

“All we do is take care of our kids. We care for everybody around us, you know? For this to happen is absolutely devastating. It’s impossible to pack a house up in three days with three children and then threatening to put me in the court for eviction, which would ultimately mess up the rest of my financial responsibilities, ” she said. “I pay my rent on time every month.”

Abigail Staudt is a managing attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s Housing Group. She is not involved in Wilson’s case but said tenants have and should know their rights.

“Just receiving some sort of notice from a landlord does not require a tenant to actually move out at that time.They may be given the opportunity to either cure that issue or under some circumstances, they may be able to defend themselves against that eviction,” she said.

Staudt said a judge has to order a tenant to move out, and a notice doesn’t do it on its own, but noted going to court should be a last resort.

“It really is best to be able to resolve the problem with the landlord ahead of the filing of the eviction. If a tenant believes that they have the right to stay, that they haven't violated the lease, that they still have an ongoing lease that they haven't reached then working with the landlord to come to some sort of resolution, this is really the best option,” said Staudt.

She said multiple violations with no action to resolve the issue may be a reason to file an eviction, but violations like noise complaints may be hard for a landlord to prove in court.

“Truthfully, most landlords will seek the easiest way to evict the tenant. And under Ohio law, that tends to be when a tenant is delinquent on rent. It’s just harder to establish things like they were noisy on five occasions or they left, you know, something out on their front porch, or they're doing something else that the landlord thinks is a breach of their lease,” she said.

She urged tenants and landlords to know their rights and obligations under Ohio law.

Wilson said she doesn’t know what to do at this point but is hopeful she’ll find a place to stay for her family.

“I have no idea. We have not found a place. Renting a house here is like playing the lottery,” she said. “We don't have anything lined up and my children are asking me where we're going, what's going on, and I really don't even know what to tell them.”

Lawn Village’s property manager told News 5 while he can’t comment on the matter due to legal purposes, Lawn Village has tried to work with the tenant for awhile.

For answers to renter questions, CLICK HERE.

For Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line:

  • Cuyahoga County tenants, call 216-861-5955
  • Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga and Lorain counties, call 440-210-4533