Whenever a tenant moves into a dwelling or establishment, that tenant may embark on making improvements to the property. Typically, the landlord gives permission for specific improvements, and an agreement between parties is reached. However, there may be instances where a landlord/tenant dispute erupts over the fate of property once a tenant has invested a great deal of time and money making improvements to the place. Michigan landlords and tenants may be interested in a story about a church at the center of such a dispute.

A reportedly dilapidated building was rented by a pastor and his wife as the location of their new church. In 2009, the pair leased the property and set out to make extensive improvements. The then-vacant property was said to be run-down at the time. The pair then spent over $220,000 repairing and improving the property with the belief that they could eventually be allowed to buy the property.

The landlord is seeking eviction, as the lease expired in the winter. The church group is fighting the eviction. The members claim they were assured first right of refusal if others offered to buy the property, and they have tried to purchase the property themselves. The attempts to buy the site were denied. The case is currently in litigation as the church fights to stay on the site and the landlord wishes to evict them.

Cases involving landlord/tenant disputes over evictions and improvements can get complicated. Wording about improvements and rights to purchase a property can be tricky to understand and leave some parties with more questions than answers, depending on the scenario. It is essential for any party involved in this type of dispute in Michigan to understand the exact details of a lease and what may occur after extensive improvements are made to any given property.

Source: theoaklandpress.com, “Church that made $220K in improvements to building at center of tenancy dispute”, Dave Phillips, April 13, 2015

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