No landlord or property manager wants to have to evict a tenant. The landlord-tenant relationship should be mutually enriching: profitable for the property owner, convenient for the tenant.
However, when it doesn't go well and the tenant is not abiding by his or her lease obligations, it is crucial that the landlord abide by Michigan law regarding the eviction process.
Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law: Who May be Evicted?
First, when is a landlord entitled to evict a tenant?
There are 3 bases for an eviction, generally:
- Non-payment of rent;
- Engaging in illegal behavior on the premises;
- Breach of or expiration of the lease.
Tenants may not be evicted simply because a landlord doesn't like them or due to interpersonal conflict, abrasiveness, etc.
Tenants may not be evicted for exercising their legal rights under Michigan law.
Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law: Non-Payment of Rent Evictions
In non-payment of rent situations, the first step for the landlord or property manager is to serve the tenant with a 7-Day Demand for Possession.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent or vacate within that 7-day period, the landlord can then file a summary proceeding complaint in the district court where the property is located to gain possession of the premises.
The complaint can request either a money judgment in addition to possession, or not, and there are pros and cons to pursuing a money judgment if possession is the immediate goal.
The court will issue a summons to the tenant to a hearing on the complaint.
If the tenant fails to appear, the landlord may obtain a default judgment of possession.
If the tenant does appear, it is often possible to obtain the tenant's consent to the judgment of possession (where there is no dispute that rent is owed).
If there is disagreement, the next step will be determined by the judge: judgment on the spot in favor of the landlord, dismissal of the action, adjournment to allow the tenant to seek legal counsel, or the action may proceed to a pre-trial hearing, and, ultimately, perhaps a bench or jury trial.
Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law: Other Eviction Bases
Breach of lease or holdover (post-lease expiration) evictions proceed similarly, except a 30-day Demand for Possession is required rather than a 7-day Demand.
Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law: Post-Judgment
One the landlord obtains a judgment of possession (with or without a money judgment included), the tenant has 10-days under Michigan law to pay the full amount due or vacate. This deadline is referred to as the "writ-date."
If the tenant fails to pay the rent or vacate, the landlord can then file an application for an order of eviction with the court that issued the judgment.
Depending on the particular district court, once the application for an order of eviction is filed with the court, 3-10 or so business days may elapse before the assigned court officer appears onsite to remove the tenants and their property from the premises.
Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law: The Bottom Line
The bottom-line is that, although this map through the eviction process appears simple, tenants have a variety of legal defenses and rights available for their exercise.
In particular, a landlord must not engage in "self-help" measures, such as locking out the tenants.
Attorney Hilla has represented property owners in nearly every district court in lower Michigan.
If you are a property manager or landlord seeking representation for possession proceedings, please contact Attorney John Hilla at (734) 743-1489 or complete our consultation form here.
Please note that Attorney Hilla is NOT representing tenants at this time and will be unable to respond to calls or inquiries from tenants seeking assistance with eviction or other matters.