A land contract is a real estate deal between a seller, called the vendor, and a buyer, called the vendee. In the contract, the vendee's payments are applied toward the property's purchase price. At the end of the contract, the terms of which may vary greatly, the vendee pays the entire remaining balance due to the vendor. In Ohio, if the vendee defaults on the contract, then the vendor has the right to evict the vendee.
In Ohio, when your vendee defaults, as vendor you must wait thirty days before initiating forfeiture or foreclosure proceedings. If the vendee is able to make payment in full to you prior to the end of the thirty days, then forfeiture of the land contract cannot be enforced, according to Ohio's legal code 5313.05. If the vendee doesn't cure the default within 30 days, then you may begin forfeiture -- and eviction -- proceedings.
The process of evicting a land contract vendee begins after the 30-day late period. You must give the vendee (or his successor) a written notice that describes the contract, the property and the clause that the vendee is defaulting on. The vendee must cure the default within 10 days. If the vendee doesn't cure the default within 10 days, then the land contract is forfeited, and he must vacate the property and return it to you. There is one important caveat -- if the vendee has paid more than 20 percent of the purchase price or has made payments faithfully for five years or more, then you must pursue judicial foreclosure against the vendee.
Judicial Foreclosure and Eviction
Judicial foreclosure allows you to sue the vendee in court for the proceeds of the home's sale. If you win in court, you are only entitled to the unpaid loan balance that was due at the time of default, which means any proceeds over and above what you're owed must be returned to the vendee, even though she defaulted. If you need to evict her, you'll need to produce a "Notive to Leave Premises," according to OhioLegalService.org. This notice gives her three days to vacate. You are not permitted to enter the property and throw out her belongings; if she doesn't vacate, then you will need to file an eviction action with the local court, which will give a copy of the eviction complaint to her.
Fair Rental Value and Property Deterioration
While you're attempting to evict the vendee, you may attempt to pursue additional financial remedies. If the vendee didn't pay market rent or left the property in poor condition, then you may sue the vendee for the difference between the fair market value and what he actually paid. You can also sue for the cost to restore the property to its original condition if the damage was caused by the vendee. If the vendee paid fair market value and the property wasn't damaged by his occupancy, then you aren't entitled to any additional financial remedies, according to Ohio law. Successfully evicting him may have to be enough.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.