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Mark McCown: Eviction is different under land contract

Dear Lawyer Mark: I have had my old house for sale with realtors for almost two years now, but it still hasn’t sold.

I had a few people look at it, and even make offers, but none of them can get a bank loan because of their bad credit.

I don’t want it to keep sitting empty, but sure as heck don’t want to rent it out and have someone tear it up.

One of the people who had bad credit asked me if I would sell it to him on a land contract.

I’m really thinking about doing it, but need to know what all needs to be in the land contract.

I also want to make sure that he is right when he told me that if he didn’t pay, I can just evict him like a rental agreement.

Is that correct? — WORRIED IN WINDSOR

Dear Worried: Chapter 5313 of the Ohio Revised Code governs land contracts.

Under its sections, the contracts must be executed in duplicate, and must contain at least 16 particular provisions.

Some of those are obvious, such as the sellers and buyer names and addresses (referred to as the vendors and vendees for a land contract), and some not so obvious, such as a “statement of any pending order of any public agency against the property.”

The land contract must also include the legal description of the property, sale price, interest rates, payments due dates, whether there are any other charges, as well as who is to pay for the property taxes, and whether there is a mortgage owed, among other items.

Even though it is not technically required, other provisions should go into the land contract as well, such as who is responsible for maintaining property insurance, and who the beneficiary of any insurance claims would be.

This can be extremely important, for example, if there were a fire that didn’t totally destroy the premises, but the buyer wants to stay.

Who gets the money from the insurance company — the seller for the purchase price, or the buyer for the damage to what will be his house?

Your prospective vendee is partially correct in stating that you can evict him like a rental.

If he is 30 days late on the payment, and the scenario below does not apply, you can evict him and cancel the land contract in a court case fairly quickly, if you follow the correct procedures.

If you do this, you cannot sue him for missed payments, unless he paid less than the fair rental value of the property.

However, under RC Section 5313.07, if a buyer has paid more than 20 percent of the purchase price or has paid on the contract for more than five years, the seller can only get possession of the land by bringing foreclosure proceedings.

This means you would have to bring a lawsuit against him, get a judgment in the lawsuit, and then have the property sold at a sheriff’s sale after advertising the sale, just as a bank would do in a foreclosure.

You can only recover up to the amount still owed to you on the property, with the excess proceeds from the sale going to the buyer.

Thought for the Week: “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” Oscar Wilde

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.