Civil Division

(419) 734-4143

The Civil Division of the Ottawa County Municipal Court handles cases in which the amount of money in dispute does not exceed $15,000.00. An action in the civil division begins with the filing of a complaint with the court, usually by an attorney. Complaints involving landlord tenant disputes, rent escrows and appeals to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles are filed with this division. It is important to keep in mind that the civil division is separate from the small claims division, which handles monetary claims of $6,000.00 or less.

To file a civil case in the Ottawa County Municipal Court, the action must have occurred or the defendant must reside within the geographic jurisdiction of this court. The jurisdiction of the court includes all of Ottawa County. Someone filing a trusteeship must reside within the geographic jurisdiction.

The court cannot offer legal advice or assistance in completing a complaint. If you have questions, you are advised to seek legal counsel. The court may not appoint an attorney to represent you in civil matters.

Forcible Entry & Detainer

This type of complaint is filed by a landlord (or their attorney) against tenant(s) who have failed to keep their rent current. It may also be filed due to a violation of the lease agreement. If anyone has co-signed a lease, they are also named in this type of complaint and may be responsible for any past due rent and damages incurred.

A forcible entry and detainer hearing is only on the eviction portion of the complaint. Eviction complaints usually have two causes of action. The first cause is for the restitution (return) of the premises, and the second cause is for the past due rent and any damages that may have occurred to the premises. An individual has twenty-eight (28) days to answer the second cause of action in the same manner as in a civil complaint.

Eviction complaints must be served upon the tenant using ordinary mail and one of the following - either personal/residential or certified mail. Plaintiff must provide the Court with the original complaint and three (3) copies for each defendant listed on the complaint. It is the responsibility of the plaintiff to notify the Court as to service instructions.

After a landlord has received judgment for restitution of the premises, the tenant should voluntarily move out as soon as possible. If the tenant is unwilling to vacate the premises, it is the responsibility of the attorney, plaintiff, or agent to notify the court bailiff and to arrange for movers to be at the eviction site on the date and time specified by the court. The bailiff does not make such arrangements, handle keys or monies or direct any party to a specific moving company. The landlord will need to make arrangements to provide the necessary help to accomplish this. The landlord or court is not responsible for any theft or damage to a tenant's belongings as a result of an eviction. Therefore, it is in the best interests of a tenant to move their own belongings voluntarily.

Notice to leave premises form and eviction complaints are available from the clerk's office or may be downloaded from the "Forms" section of this web site.

View Civil FAQ