Evictions are one of the most stressful and costly parts of being a landlord. One of the biggest costs is the time it takes to get a tenant to move out of the rental property – time when the tenant is probably not paying rent. Despite the mistaken belief that eviction is easy, landlords have to take specific steps in order to carry out a legal eviction in Michigan. The process starts by identifying a cause for eviction and ends when the sheriff, acting on the court's orders, turns the tenant out onto the street.
Eviction Laws in Michigan
Generally, a landlord can evict a tenant whenever the tenant does something wrong. Examples include not paying the rent, overstaying the end of the lease, violating a major lease term such as subletting the property without the landlord's permission, damaging the property, creating a health hazard or being involved in illegal drug activity from the rental unit. A landlord cannot evict a tenant unless there's clear illegal behavior or a lease breach.
Serving an Eviction Notice in Michigan
The eviction process in Michigan always starts with the landlord serving a notice to quit. In Michigan, the landlord must give at least seven days' notice where the reason for the eviction is non-payment of rent, causing damage to the home or creating a health hazard. For other lease violations, it's a 30-day notice. For drug offenses, it's just 24 hours. Once the time is up – assuming the tenant hasn't paid up and/or fixed the lease violation – the next step is to file a complaint in the district court where the rental is located. The complaint asks the judge for an order of eviction.
Read More: How Long Do You Have to Move After an Eviction Notice?
Setting a Court Date
Michigan has an expedited process for eviction hearings called "summary proceedings." This enables the court date to be scheduled very quickly after the landlord files the legal complaint, usually within one or two weeks. Some tenants will defend themselves at the eviction hearing, in which case the judge will listen to arguments from both sides. If the tenant does not show up, as long as the landlord did everything else right, the court will sign an eviction order. Normally, the eviction order will grant the tenant a 10-day grace period to pack up leave the property.
Executing a Writ of Eviction in Michigan
Serving the court order is often enough to get the tenant to leave but if he does not, the landlord will go back to court after 10 days to get a writ of restitution. This gives the sheriff's department the go-ahead to forcibly remove the tenant from the property and put his belongings out on the curb. The sheriff's department will try to act quickly when arranging a date for the eviction, but it really depends on the sheriff's schedule. It may be another week or two before the tenant is evicted and the landlord gets the property back.
How Long Does Eviction Take in Michigan?
Putting all this together, you can see that even if the tenant does not show up to contest the eviction hearing, it will take an absolute minimum of four weeks to get an eviction in Michigan. In reality, an official eviction is likely to take longer, in the region of six to eight weeks. Since an eviction requires a court order and physical removal by the sheriff, the timeline is dependent on when a court date can be scheduled and when a sheriff is available to execute a writ of restitution. A contested eviction may last as long as a few months, especially if the tenant has a good defense or counterclaim.
From soup to nuts, the whole Michigan eviction process will likely take around four to six weeks.
- Rental Property Owners’ Association: What Are the Steps to Legally Evict a Tenant in Michigan?
- Michigan Legislature: Revised Judicature Act of 1961 600.5744, Issuance of Writ of Restitution
- Michigan Legal Help: Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start?
- Michigan Legal Help: Going to Court in an Eviction Case
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.