When a Michigan tenant signs a written 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 remove 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 the tenant has committed, a landlord must follow the Michigan eviction process to the letter, unless they are a squatter.
For example, it's illegal for a landlord to engage in eviction process acts in their property such as:
- Interfering with the tenants' use of the property—for example by changing locks.
- Ignoring maintenance requests from tenants.
- Libeling or slandering the tenants.
- Usings threats to coerce tenants to move out.
- Shutting off previously available utilities or other violations of the lease agreement.
- Moving tenant belongings from their rented unit as this can only be done by law enforcement officers.
Doing any of these things will not only delay the eviction process, but can also land the landlord 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, a landlord must abide by the Michigan eviction process to the letter.
The following basic overview should help landlords get started.
Overview of Laws for Evictions in Michigan
Step 1: Have a justifiable reason.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant for just any reason. The purpose must be fully justifiable by the state's landlord tenant law. The following are legal reasons to begin an eviction lawsuit that will remove renters from a rental premises:
- If the tenant fails to pay rent.
- Habitual late rent payments or nonpayment of rent by the tenant.
- Refusal by the tenant to move out after their lease has expired.
- Violating the terms of the lease 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.
A Michigan legal notice is used to inform a tenant of one of two things.
The first is a written notice, supplied by first class mail, that may notify them of a violation that they must fix within a certain timeframe or the landlord can evict a tenant after the notice period expires.
The second is a written notice that may notify them that they need to move out without a certain number of days or a landlord can legally evict a tenant.
There are various types of eviction notices that can help the legal issue. Each type is specific to a certain violation. If a landlord serves the wrong one, their tenant may use that as a defense to delay their eviction as per Michigan State law.
7-Day Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent: The landlord must serve this notice to a tenant who has refused to pay their rent on time.
As per Michigan law, rent becomes late the day after it’s due. If a landlord provides any grace periods, make sure to address this proper notice for the nonpayment of rent on the rental agreement.
The 7-Day Notice gives the tenant 7 days to move out. If the tenant doesn’t move out after the 7 days have passed, a landlor can proceed with the eviction process without need of a further legal notice.
30-Day Notice to Quit for Lease Violations: This type of notice is aimed at renters who commit certain violations under Michigan landlord-tenant law such as having a pet against the policy, exceeding the rental limit, and excessive property damage. Its also the best option for a month to month lease.
Please note that habitability violations and illegal activities aren’t included here.
The 30-Day Notice 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, a landlord 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 rental agreement has expired.
More often than not, this applies to rentes 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, the landlord can move to court for further help.
7-Day Notice for Habitability Violations: The state of Michigan also allows a landlord to evict renters 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.
Once the notice period begins, a landlord can move to court, file the appropriate court forms, to evict the tenant if the tenant violates the notice.
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, a landlord 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, the landlord can then move to court for further help with the eviction lawsuit. 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: Hearing & Judgment
As per eviction laws, after the court issues a summons, a court date for 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 court hearing, the judge will most likely issue a default judgment favoring you, the landlord. The local district court will then issue you a Writ of Restitution.
The tenant can also choose to fight their eviction. Common defenses they can put up under Michigan eviction laws and legal process includes:
- 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 or breaks other safety violations.
- Landlord fails to take rent.
- The eviction is a discriminatory act by Michigan landlords.
- Breach of the Michigan Fair Housing Laws.
So, before filing to evict a tenant, make sure that the tenant can’t use such defenses in court.
Step #5: Removal of the tenant.
If the judgment is in favor of the landlord, the court will issue you with a court order called 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.