Receiving a writ of eviction can be terrifying. Michigan law provides several methods by which to appeal and stop the eviction process.
Answer the eviction summons and complaint. You may do this by writing your answer and serving a copy on the landlord and the court or by attending your hearing and answering each allegation orally. Either way, you must answer every allegation. For instance, if your landlord has checked "other" on the complaint form and written, "broken front door and has not paid rent since October," your answer must address the broken door and your non-payment of rent.
Attend your hearing on the date and time stated on the summons and complaint. If you cannot appear, or if there is no date or time listed on your complaint, call the court to arrange a hearing date. The court's name and phone number are listed in the top right-hand corner of the complaint. Bring at least two copies of your lease, the summons and complaint, and any other evidence that supports your position. If an object is too big to bring into the courtroom--for instance, if your landlord never repaired the leaky toilet--take photographs of the object and bring those. You have a right to have a jury at your hearing, although you must pay a jury fee that a judge can waive for low-income defendants..
Ask the judge to dismiss your case if If your landlord does not attend the hearing. This will stop your eviction. The judge may ask if you want to go to mediation, which is a neutral setting at which you and your landlord can talk out your differences and reach an agreement. If you do not want to go to mediation, the hearing will proceed. If you win at the hearing, the eviction will stop. However, if the judge decides you have no defenses, you will have 10 days to move after the date of the hearing.
Appeal the case to the Circuit Court if the judge has ordered you to move within 10 days. You will be responsible for all fees and will almost certainly want an attorney to assist you in your appeal.
In Michigan, a landlord may evict you for only three reasons: non-payment of rent, creating a health hazard, or termination of tenancy. If none of these things has happened, say so clearly in your answer, with evidence.
As stated on line 4 of the eviction summons and complaint, you have a right to an attorney. Contact an attorney immediately if you feel you need one. You can find an attorney by contacting the State Bar of Michigan at 800-968-0738.
If the judge finds against you and you choose not to appeal, to move out within 10 days. If you stay longer than 10 days, the court may issue a writ of restitution. This writ allows the county sheriff to remove you and all your belongings from the premises immediately and to put you out on the street. The sheriff does not have to give you warning or any extra time.
Attend your hearing even if you have reached an agreement with your landlord before the hearing date. If you do not attend, you will not know whether the landlord describes the agreement correctly to the court. Likewise, attend your hearing even if you believe your landlord will not appear. If you fail to appear at your hearing, you risk having a default judgment entered against you.
- gavel image by Cora Reed from Fotolia.com