What’s the deal with evictions in Michigan?
Michigan has an expedited legal process for eviction called “summary proceedings.” It enables eviction hearings to be scheduled very quickly after the landlord first makes the filing in court.
Landlords cannot evict a tenant in Michigan without a court order. Any efforts to hasten the process by changing the locks or shutting off utilities are illegal, and could result in tenants successfully suing the landlord for damages.
What are some reasons that I can evict a tenant in Michigan?
In Michigan, the law recognizes several reasons for eviction:
- Non-payment of rent
- Overstaying a lease, or “holding over”
- Violating a term of the lease that it says will lead to eviction
- Causing extensive and continuing physical damage to the dwelling
- Creating a serious and continuing health hazard
- Involvement in illegal drug activity on the premises
- “Just cause” for evictions from mobile home parks or from federally-subsidized housing
What are some reasons that I can’t evict someone in Michigan?
You cannot evict a tenant on the basis of their membership in a protected class in the state of Michigan. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, disability, familial status, national origin, or sex. Michigan law also prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of marital status or age.
You also cannot evict in retaliation against the tenant for exercising a right, such as complaining to housing officials about construction or safety defects, wheelchair accessibility, or illegal harassment. You also cannot evict a tenant for joining or forming a tenants union, or for exercising other legal rights. (See Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.5720)
What is the Michigan eviction process normally like?
Unless the tenant is squatting, or physically occupying the unit without permission or by force, landlords in Michigan must provide a notice to quit. This is a notice of demand for possession before an eviction suit is filed.
You can present the notice in person, you can mail it, or you can leave it with another adult in the unit. The notice must be addressed to the tenant; and it must give the reason for the impending eviction, along with the number of days that the tenant has to fix the problem (if applicable) before the landlord files for eviction. The notice must also include the landlord’s address, as well as the date of the notice.
In Michigan, the landlord must give the tenant at least 7 days’ notice before filing to evict for non-payment of rent, for causing damage to the home, or for creating a health hazard. In the case of illegal drug activity, the landlord needs to grant only 24 hours after the notice is served before they can file for eviction. For violating other lease provisions, Michigan landlords must give 30 days’ notice.
30 days’ notice is also required for overstaying a lease, if it’s been more than 30 days since the lease ended. If the tenant is overstaying a lease, but the lease ended less than 30 days ago, notice may not be required. In the case of month-to-month leases, or if the tenant doesn’t have a lease, then the landlord must give one rental period’s notice before filing to evict.
The next step is to prepare a summons and complaint, then file it in the district court where the dwelling is located. Once it’s been filed and the landlord receives a court date and time, the landlord must arrange for the delivery of the summons to the tenant. You can mail the documents yourself, but it must be with a return receipt to prove that the notice was served. If other means of delivery prove unsuccessful, you can securely attach the summons to the front door.
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Service of the summons must be completed no later than 3 days from the date of the hearing. If you can’t serve the tenant, you must go back to the court and get a later hearing date, and attempt to serve the documents again.
The tenant can contest the eviction at the hearing. If they don’t show, and you did everything else right, you’ll get a summary judgment in your favor, which gives you the green light to proceed to the next step: Notifying the tenant that they have a certain number of days to vacate the premises. Normally, the court will grant the tenant 10 days.
At the end of the time period, you go back to the court and file a Writ of Restitution form. If the judge signs it, you can then work out the details of the actual eviction with court officials. Most of the time, the court will delegate the eviction to the sheriff’s department or a court officer. You select a date when a deputy/officer is available; this usually involves 1-2 weeks’ wait. The officer will then allow you to enter the dwelling and physically remove the tenants’ belongings. Have some help available to move furniture, and bring a truck and some boxes, bags, and tarps. Locks must be changed immediately after moving the tenant and their belongings out.
Unlike many other states, Michigan does not require landlords to store the property of evicted tenants offsite and allow them to recover it. All you are required to do is leave the property on the curb for 48 hours (24 in some communities) before disposing of it as you see fit. Detroit and some other cities require you to use a clean “eviction dumpster”; contact a local attorney experienced in evictions for details.
Plan on spending $300-$1200 for the bailiff or deputy’s time, depending on how extensive the move-out is and how long it takes. A dumpster will cost $200-$300. In addition, expect to pay $50 to get the writ of restitution signed. Eviction is an expensive process, and a last resort!
Where can I learn more about the Michigan evictions process?
Disclaimer: The materials on this database provide general information related to the law and are intended to provide a layman’s summary of the law. The information provided does not constitute legal advice and the manager of this database is not a law firm. These materials are intended, but cannot be promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date. All of the information offered are intended for general informational purposes only. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained on this database without first seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.