Michigan Eviction Quick Guide
How You Can Get EvictedThere are three legal bases on which landlords can evict tenants:
1. non-payment of rent
2. creating a health hazard
3. termination of a tenancy (usually requires a 30-day notice)
Landlords must use different "Notices to Quit" for each type of eviction. A Notice to Quit must be issued before the legal eviction procedure can begin.
What Is A Notice to Quit?A Notice to Quit is a legal document that a landlord or agent must give tenants when she or he wants them to pay or move. It indicates when and why the landlord wants the tenants to move. In some cases, landlords use these notices to intimidate tenants. If you receive a Notice to Quit, it does not mean you have to move at the time specified on the notice. This is merely the first step before the landlord can begin the legal eviction procedure. You will still have an opportunity to negotiate or go to court to defend yourself. It also does not mean that the landlord has to follow through with the eviction. If the landlord accepts all the rent that is due, or rent for future months, after the tenant received the notice, the notice becomes void.
Three Forms of A Notice to Quit1. Seven day non-payment of rent This type is used if the landlord is claiming you owe rent. The notice tells you how much you owe and says that you have seven days to either pay, move, or face possible eviction procedures.
2. 30 day termination of tenancy This is used to end a month-to-month tenancy or to assert that the tenant committed a major breach of the lease.
3. Seven day health hazard These are extremely rare, used only if the landlord is evicting you by claiming you are causing a health hazard or are doing serious physical damage to the property.
Self-Help Evictions are Illegal in MichiganIt is illegal for a landlord to attempt self-help measures to get you out, such as
1. changing the locks
2. shutting off utilities
3. actually moving your possessions out.
Lock Out Law DamagesA landlord may be held liable for any damages you incur under the state Lock Out Law. The Lock Out Law states that if a tenant is illegally forced out of all or a portion of her or his home, due to a landlord's acts or failure to act, she or he is entitled to damages for each occurrence. The tenant may be entitled to $200 or three times the amount of the actual damages, whichever is greater, as well as possession of the unit. The only way a tenant can legally be forced out of her or his home is through a court order, or if the city condemns the property.
Non-Payment EvictionsThe eviction process for non-payment of rent begins when you receive a seven-day "Notice to Quit", demanding that you either pay the rent claimed due or vacate the premises within seven days. After a seven-day notice has been issued, the landlord is supposed to accept rent if a tenant offers it, making the notice void.
Although these notices do not explicitly state it, tenants may also ignore the notice and wait to be sued for eviction. If tenants do nothing in response to the notice, after seven days the landlord may request that the court issue a "Summons and Complaint". These two documents will be delivered to the tenant at the same time through the mail or served in person by a court officer.
42 Days: Eviction Time TableIt can take a minimum of four to six weeks to go through an eviction procedure, from the date the tenant receives the Notice to Quit to the day the sheriff actually knocks on the tenant's door to physically evict. Here is how that time was calculated:
Any time after the Seven Day Notice to Quit expires, the landlord can file for a court date. The date of the first court hearing will be from four to eight days after the landlord files. (seven days plus four days = 11 days) At the initial court appearance, the tenant may ask for a one to two week adjournment and a jury trial, as described above. (seven days) After an initial adjournment, the next court date will be for a pre-trial hearing, usually one to two weeks later. (seven days) The judge may hold the trial at the same time as the pre-trial, or set a new trial date for whenever there is room on the court schedule.
When to Retain An Attorney?Tenants do not need to be represented by an attorney at a court hearing for eviction. In many situations, having an attorney is advisable, especially if there are many disputed issues that need to be resolved at a trial, but with the proper information, you may be able to handle your own case.