Michigan eviction laws vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that the tenant could exploit.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Failure to comply with rent deadlines
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they must give the tenant an official written 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit.
The filing for eviction does not continue if the rent is paid within the 7 days. If they cannot pay and remain on the property, the landlord reserves the right to continue filing for eviction.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental lease agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms of the lease agreement, the landlord must issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant resolves these issues on time, the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental property
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the violations are not resolved, or they remain on the property, then the landlord may continue with the eviction. Also, landlords are not legally obligated to allow the tenant to resolve the violation before presenting them with the notice to quit.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord has to issue an official written 7-Day Notice to Quit.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Theft, violence, or assault
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
Landlords should report the incident to the nearest police station and create an official police report if it involves drugs. In this case, tenants will only receive a 24-Hour Notice to Quit.
For other cases, the police have to at least be notified. Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed.
4. Material health or safety violation
Michigan law takes into account the health, building, safety, and housing codes. If a tenant violates any of these codes, the landlord has to issue a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
Violations under this could include:
- Not throwing out trash for long periods, inviting bugs and/or rodents.
- Damaging the electrical wiring of a unit
- Ruining the plumbing fixtures of a unit
Landlords are not legally obligated to allow the tenant to finish repairs or fix the problem by the end of the 7 days. Should the tenant remain in the property after the notice period, the landlord can continue filing for eviction.
5. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Michigan, landlords cannot evict tenants or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
But if they stay in the property even a day after their lease/rental agreement ends and have not arranged for renewal, landlords can issue a written 30-Day Notice to Quit.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. Enough notice time must have been allowed before filing for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
In Michigan, filing fees cost about $45, but there could be additional costs if the eviction involves money. The additional charges could go as low as $25 and as high as $150.
It takes about 24 hours to 30 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
An authorized official from the court delivers the summons for the hearing and the complaint to the tenant at least 3 days before the eviction hearing.
They have to deliver it through first-class mail and one of these methods below:
- Personal Service: The court official delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, someone living with the tenant (such as a family member) may receive the documents
- Posting: The representative leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property.
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 3 days before the eviction hearing to prepare. They are not obligated to send in a reply.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 3 days before the hearing is scheduled.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
However, the hearing can also be postponed for 7 days if either party is unable to attend. This decision lies on the judge.
If the landlord does not win, they can still appeal for reconsideration.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Michigan, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing.
The landlord needs to support the claim with evidence and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
If the judge rules in favor of the tenant, the landlord can appeal to the ruling, and vice versa.
Eviction hearings are scheduled 5 to 10 days after the complaint was filed. An additional 7 days may be added in postponement if either the tenant or landlord fails to attend the hearing.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Restitution is issued either immediately or after 10 days after judgment.
Cases involving drugs and material health and safety violations will result in the immediate issuance of the Writ. This timeframe is lengthened to 10 days for other cases.
Tenants who can pay all monetary disputes in full will not be evicted and the Writ will not be released.
2. Move out process
Once judgment is passed in favor of the landlord, the tenant must move out within 10 days.
The appropriate law enforcement official must be given the Writ within 7 days from the day it is issued. There is no specific length of time for them to execute the Writ and forcefully evict the tenant.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to remove the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The state of Michigan does not require landlords to store a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, the landlord can leave them outside the rental property for 24-48 hours before disposing of them.
The tenants have a maximum of 7 days upon the issuance of the Writ of Restitution to vacate the property.
Michigan Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
You are not allowed to be the one to evict the tenant by force. Leave that job to the authorized officials.
On average, it would take anywhere between 3 weeks to 2 months for a complete eviction process.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Michigan?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of Michigan, tenants can sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- Three times actual damages OR
This depends on which amount is greater. As another consequence of forceful eviction, the statute allows tenants to stay in the property.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Michigan?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Michigan?
According to Michigan Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay on the property. A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other laws should I be aware of in Michigan?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Michigan. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.
- eForms: Michigan Eviction Notice Forms
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Michigan: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Legal Templates: Michigan Eviction Notice
- Michigan Legal Help: Eviction and Other Housing Issues and COVID-19
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: Michigan Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines