An eviction notice — sometimes called "notice to quit" or "demand for possession" — explains why a landlord wants a tenant to move and how much time the tenant has to act before court action. (Shutterstock)

As evictions go up and major COVID-19 pandemic housing protections have ended, renters should know what Michigan law spells out for both landlords and tenants.

This story also appeared in Detroit Free Press

Eviction is the process that allows a landlord to legally remove a renter from their property. It’s illegal for a landlord to force a tenant out of a rental unit without first going to court and obtaining an eviction order, according to Michigan Legal Help, a program funded in part by the Michigan Supreme Court. A landlord also cannot take actions to prevent a tenant from getting into the home, such as changing locks or shutting off utilities. 

An eviction order allows a court officer to remove a tenant and their belongings from a property. Sometimes both parties resolve the issues before it gets to that stage. Other times, they take their concerns to court. Either way, Michigan law lays out the steps in the eviction process. 

Here is what happens when a tenant receives a notice and what leads up to a court officer knocking on a tenant’s door to remove them from a property, according to Michigan Legal Help and a guide for landlords and tenants from the Michigan State University College of Law:

Reasons behind an eviction

There are many reasons a landlord may evict a tenant, according to state law. Those include:

  • Not paying rent
  • Not moving when a lease ends
  • Violating a lease term
  • Causing extensive physical damage to a property
  • Creating a health hazard
  • Illegal drug activity
  • The landlord thinks there is a “just cause” to evict someone from a mobile home park or federally subsidized housing.

The eviction notice

An eviction notice — sometimes called “notice to quit” or “demand for possession” — explains why a landlord wants a tenant to move and how much time the tenant has to act before court action.

The notice must be in writing and include the following: the tenant’s name, address or description of the rental property, reason for eviction, amount of time for the renter to address any issues, date and the landlord’s signature. It must be delivered in-person to the tenant or a family member living in the household and request that it be given to the renter, through mail or electronically via email (if that is a method of communication the tenant agreed to). 

After receiving a notice, the tenant has a specified amount of time to remedy the problem. That time frame varies based on the reason for the eviction and ranges from 24 hours to 30 days. Here are some examples, according to Michigan Legal Help: 24 hours for illegal drug activity, 7 days if a tenant hasn’t paid rent or created a health hazard and 30 days for violating a lease term, such as smoking or keeping pets.

A notice is not the same thing as an order of eviction, meaning a renter does not have to move when the notice expires. There are certain conflicts that can be resolved, such as paying back rent. However, there are other issues, such as breach of a lease or illegal drug activity, causing a tenant to have to move out otherwise the landlord could sue them, according to the MSU College of Law guide for landlords and tenants.

After the notice time period ends, the landlord can file a lawsuit and take the tenant to court. A landlord may not be required to give a notice if a renter stays after their lease ends or if someone forced their way into a home and decided to stay in it — also known as squatting or trespassing. 

But the landlord can’t do anything to prevent someone from accessing the property before getting a court order. The landlord can’t, for instance, destroy property, board up a home, put belongings out on the street and refuse to make repairs. Michigan Legal Help says that there are instances where a landlord can come into a home. That’s called lawful interference and can happen if the landlord is acting on a court order, entering a home with permission to make repairs or believes the renter abandoned the place or died.

The steps in an eviction

The eviction process can take anywhere from 21 to 57 days, according to the MSU guide. Here’s what that usually entails:

How to get help 

For more information about evictions and resources for assistance, visit Michigan Legal Help at bit.ly/MichiganLegalHelpEvictions and the Michigan Attorney General’s website for landlords and tenants at www.michigan.gov/ag/about/landlord. For an in-depth run down about eviction proceedings go to www.legislature.mi.gov/Publications/tenantlandlord.pdf. Reach out to the United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s 2-1-1 helpline for additional assistance.  

Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility for the Detroit Free Press and BridgeDetroit as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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1 Comment

  1. It is so pitiful how these landlords are so eager to make the tenant homeless! I am going through something similar and I have his money, however, it’s only July! It is nothing but july! He violated the lease because he tries to enter when he knew I was out of town training for work. I have not filed any type of complaint against him and I think that maybe I should my lease is up in maybe 60 days and he refuses to extend it. He won’t even do a month to month! I don’t have anywhere to go and I’ve been here for years. He doesn’t understand Financial woes because he’s never had them. And these are the words that have come from his mouth. He’s never been late on a bill his mortgage has never been late so therefore he is not going to understand the woes of someone who has these issues. I don’t even know what to do! It’s so super frustrating because this is my home and has been for years, however, business is business and I guess I will have to figure it out!

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