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Is it legal for a commercial landlord to change my locks for non-payment? Does that terminate the lease?

Howell, MI |

My landlord and I agreed to a lower lease amount, but didn't put it in writing. He has been accepting this amount for 7 months without saying anything different. It does state in the lease that he can lock me out, but isn't it against a state law?

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Attorney answers 4


If the premises were voluntarily vacated, a landlord could secure the premises but vacated means that the premises are empty. However, a lock out is prohibited under Michigan law until after a landlord has gone to court, obtained an order for possession of the premises and had a Sheriff or Court Officer evict the tenant from the premises. Damages for a self-help lock out by a landlord can be awarded.

Donald B. Lawrence, Jr. (P16463)* THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C.* DID 517-886-7115 Fax: 517-886-7129 Email: The information provided does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationship exists based upon this response. Unless specifically noted to the contrary, information refers to Michigan law. Prior to taking action, you should consult directly with an attorney for specific advice based on a full factual disclosure about your own legal situation. This information is provided for your personal use and may be reproduced for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2011 THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C. THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C.* 5801 W. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48917 Phone: 517-886-7176; Fax: 517-886-1080 *AV Peer Rated, Martindale-Hubbell® Please consider the environment before printing this response


Short answer: It is against Michigan law for a landlord to lock out a tenant in possession without going to court to evict the tenant. I would need to know all of the facts before giving a definite answer.

This answer is for discussion purposes only and will not be considered legal advice. Further, a court could potentially decide the question contrary to my answer.

Thomas R. Morris

Thomas R. Morris


P.S. A lockout by a landlord is called "distraint" or "wrongful distraint."


I agree with Mr. Morris and suggest that you carefully review the last lease that was in effect for holdover and renewal language. Best of luck.


In short and based on this limited fact pattern I would say his actions are wrong and actionable. He has opened himself up to liability.

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