On behalf of Howard Collens

Michigan law sets out strict procedural requirements for landlords to evict tenants from rented homes or apartments.

Providing attractive and safe residential premises for renters is a satisfying and profitable business for Michigan landlords, property investors and property management companies. Usually the relationship between a tenant and landlord concerning the rental of an apartment, multifamily unit or single-family home is cooperative and cordial, but unfortunately, sometimes a landlord has reason to take steps to have a problematic tenant legally removed from the premises, known as eviction.

A smart Michigan landlord will develop an ongoing relationship with an experienced attorney who has worked extensively with the complex state laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship, including the specific and complicated procedures required to lawfully evict a residential tenant.

From their suburban Detroit office in Huntington Woods, the property lawyers at Galloway and Colleens, PLLC, provide counsel to landlords and property management companies throughout the Detroit metro as well as across the state of Michigan in evictions and other legal issues that arise in the landlord-tenant relationship.

As a practical matter and depending on the nature of the problem, a landlord having trouble with a tenant may be able to resolve the problem informally with some negotiation. It may be easier and cheaper in the long run to do so, avoiding the costs of ending up in court. However, there are times when eviction is the right step.

Eviction is a legal process that involves specific procedural, notice, service and deadline requirements, underscoring the need for retaining a real estate attorney to help with compliance and for guidance in the landlord-tenant relationship. After all, a landlord may not take the matter of removing a tenant into its own hands. To do so involves the risk of violating laws that protect residential tenants from landlord overreaching.

To legally evict a tenant in Michigan, the landlord must first provide the appropriate legal notice that tells the tenant what he or she can do to stop the landlord from going forward with an eviction and the basis for that request. Michigan law allows the landlord to evict for any of these reasons:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Failure to move out after lease has ended or property has been sold, in certain circumstances
  • Willful or negligent creation of extensive, ongoing physical damage to the rental premises
  • Willful or negligent creation of a serious, continuing health hazard in the home
  • Violation of a lease term that allows eviction as a remedy such as illegal drug activity
  • Physically injuring a person or threatening to do so on the premises by a tenant, tenant's family or person under tenant's control, in most situations
  • Person on premises has no legal right to be there and either entered by force or trespass, or retains possession by force

(Different laws may apply to governmentally subsidized or owned housing units, to mobile homes and to commercial property.)

Once the landlord has given timely and proper notice and waited the required amount of time, it can file a lawsuit for the right to possession of the premises. Michigan law allows either party to request a jury. In certain situations, a landlord may also be able to get past-due rent, an order for the tenant to take a specific action (like remove a hazard or stop an activity) and sometimes additional money damages. Either party may appeal.

If the landlord wins and the tenant does not follow the order to do something or to leave voluntarily, the landlord can seek an order of eviction that allows law enforcement to physically remove the tenant and his or her possessions from the premises.