Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Eviction, Foreclosure Disputes Being Handled Online

Image of 2 hands holding a smart phone

A new online dispute resolution pilot project is being unveiled in certain Ohio courts.

Image of 2 hands holding a smart phone

A new online dispute resolution pilot project is being unveiled in certain Ohio courts.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 17 Ohio courts will be experimenting with handling evictions, foreclosures, small claims and family cases online.

“Working online increases the capacity for mediators to help parties resolve their cases,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “It’s another example of our courts finding technological solutions during this crisis.”

A year ago, a few months into the pandemic, Chief Justice O’Connor called on court staff to release a foreclosure report and evictions report to provide local courts with guidance about the looming increases in foreclosure and eviction filings and how to avoid large backlogs of civil cases.

The reports’ recommendations included online eviction mediation and settlement sessions and the creation of a pilot program called online dispute resolution (ODR.)

The Ohio Supreme Court is sponsoring the project, which is supported by a grant from the federal State Justice Institute. The project is receiving guidance from statewide partners, including Ohio Legal Help, the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation, and the Ohio State Bar Association.

Evictions and small claims cases will start rolling out soon in the Cleveland Housing Court, the Franklin County Municipal Court, and municipal courts in:

  • Akron
  • Youngstown
  • Darke County
  • Garfield Heights
  • Hamilton County
  • and Van Wert County

Foreclosure cases will be piloted in the common pleas courts of:

  • Franklin County
  • Montgomery County
  • and Warren County.

Grants from the State Justice Institute will fund domestic relations courts in:

  • Champaign County
  • Cuyahoga County
  • Delaware County
  • Hamilton County
  • Summit County
  • and Tuscarawas County.

"We are so pleased to have been able to collaborate with the Supreme Court on the Ohio ODR pilot project,” said Susan Choe, executive director of Ohio Legal Help. “Plain language information and tools are critical to removing barriers to the law so that all Ohioans can understand their legal options."

Defendants are referred to the free, online platform when they receive a summons and can opt to seek resolution a variety of ways.

Litigants have a right to their day in court even if they first use ODR.

ODR does not replace a hearing, but serves as a supplementary process that may result in resolution. In many instances, it eliminates the need for traditional proceedings. 

“Since online dispute resolution is a relatively new process, the Ohio Supreme Court is showing a lot of foresight in building evaluation tools into the pilot from the beginning,” said Jennifer Shack, a researcher on the pilot project.

“Hopefully, the information gathered about the pilot will also help courts outside of Ohio to create effective ODR programs,” Shack said.

Once a court launches the pilot, it will have access to the ODR platform for 12 months. When the pilot program ends, local courts will decide whether to continue to offer ODR.