When a Michigan tenant signs a lease, they agree to abide by the lease's terms until it expires. If they fail to do so, the landlord has a right to evict them from their rented premises, just as tenants have the right to break the lease for their landlord's lease violation.
Regardless of the violation your tenant has committed, you must follow the Michigan eviction process to the letter, unless they are a squatter.
For example, it's illegal for you to engage in acts such as:
- Interfering with your tenants' use of the property—for example by changing locks.
- Ignoring maintenance requests from tenants.
- Libeling or slandering your tenants.
- Usings threats to coerce tenants to move out.
- Shutting off previously available utilities.
- Moving tenant belongings from their rented unit.
Doing any of these things will not only delay the eviction process, but can also land you in legal trouble, which is why many landlords choose to hire an experienced property management company to handle such tasks on their behalf when they rent out properties.
For an eviction to succeed, you must abide by the Michigan eviction process to the letter.
The following basic overview should help you get started.
Overview of Laws for Evictions in Michigan
Step 1: Have a justifiable reason.
You cannot evict a tenant for just any reason. Your purpose must be fully justifiable by the state's landlord tenant law. The following are legal reasons to evict tenants from your rental premises:
- Failure by the tenant to pay rent.
- Habitual late rent payments by the tenant.
- Refusal by the tenant to move out after their lease has expired.
- Violating the terms of the agreement, such as by subletting it without authorization, or making illegal alterations.
- Illegal drug manufacturing.
- Causing significant disturbance to other tenants or neighbors.
- Causing excessive property damage, including holes in walls, missing door handles, or broken bathroom mirrors.
Step 2: Serve the right eviction notice.
An eviction notice is used to inform a tenant of one of two things.
The first is that it may notify them of a violation that they must fix within a certain timeframe.
The second is that it may notify them that they need to move out without a certain number of days.
There are various types of eviction notices. Each type is specific to a certain violation. If you serve the wrong one, your tenant may use that as a defense to delay their eviction.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent: You must serve this notice to a tenant who has refused to pay rent on time.
As per Michigan law, rent becomes late the day after it’s due. If you provide any grace periods, make sure to address them on the lease agreement.
The 7-Day Notice to Quit gives the tenant 7 days to move out. If the tenant doesn’t move out after the 7 days have passed, you can proceed with the eviction process.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Lease Violations: This type of eviction notice is aimed at tenants who commit certain violations such as having a pet against the policy, exceeding the rental limit, and excessive property damage.
Please note that habitability violations and illegal activities aren’t included here.
The 30-Day Notice to Quit gives the tenant 30 days to move out or else face an eviction. If they don’t move out after the expiry of the notice period, you can proceed to remove them.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Holdover Tenants: A tenant is considered to be “holdover” if they continue staying in their rented units after their lease has expired.
More often than not, this applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease, when the landlord doesn’t wish to continue renting to them.
Again, if the tenant doesn’t move out after the 30 days, you can move to court for further help.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Habitability Violations: The state of Michigan also allows you to evict tenants for violations touching on habitability. Examples of such violations include causing damage to the electrical wiring and providing harbor for rodents or bugs by letting trash pile up.
After the 7 days, you can move to court to evict the tenant.
24 hours’ Notice for Illegal Drug Activity: Examples of illegal drug activity may include possessing a controlled substance or manufacturing one. Besides filing formal eviction proceedings, you must also file a formal police report as well.
Step #3: File a formal complaint.
If a tenant doesn’t move out after the notice has expired, you can then move to court for further help. In Michigan, filing fees cost $45.
For money judgments, like rent money or for repairs to damages, the filing fees typically range between $25 and $150.
The service of the complaint must be made by a process server. The server can do so in person, through mail, or by posting it on the rental unit.
Step #4: Court Hearing & Judgment
After the court issues a summons, the eviction hearing usually occurs within 10 days. A tenant isn’t required to file a formal written answer with the court in order to attend the hearing. They can opt to do so if they wish, however.
Should a tenant fail to attend the hearing, the judge will most likely issue a default judgment favoring you. The court will then issue you a Writ of Restitution.
The tenant can also choose to fight their eviction. Common defenses they can put up include:
- The eviction arose from an act of retaliation.
- The tenant stopped paying rent because you illegally increased the rent amount.
- You attempted to evict the tenant through “self-help” means such as changing the locks on the property or removing the tenant’s belongings from their property.
- The property isn’t habitable.
- You refused to take rent.
- The eviction is a discriminatory act.
- Breach of the Michigan Fair Housing Laws.
So, before filing to evict your tenant, make sure that your tenant can’t use such defenses in court.
Step #5: Removal of the tenant.
If the judgment is in your favor, the court will issue you with a Writ of Restitution. This is a document that serves as the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit. It’s normally issued 10 days after a successful judgment.
Disclaimer: The information herein is only intended to be informational and not a substitute for legal advice. For further help, please get in touch with either an experienced property management company or a qualified attorney.