If you rent your home, you must pay rent for it. How much rent and when it is due must be stated in your lease. If you don’t have a written lease, your landlord should tell you how much rent you must pay and when it is due.
If you don’t pay your rent, your landlord has the right to start the eviction process. Your landlord must go to court to legally evict you. A landlord can’t do anything to personally remove you from the property. If you’ve gotten a Notice to Quit or Demand for Possession, read the article Eviction: What is it and How does it Start?
What Is it and How Does it start?
Eviction is a serious matter. You may want to contact a lawyer.
Demand for Possession
Before your landlord can evict you for not paying your rent, your landlord must give you a "Demand for Possession, Nonpayment of Rent". This is the first step in the eviction process. The demand must:
Be in writing
Be addressed to the tenant
Describe the rental property, usually by giving the address
Say how much rent you owe
Say that you have seven days to pay the rent or move out
Include the landlord’s address and the date of the notice. Your landlord must properly serve you with the demand for possession for nonpayment of rent. Your landlord can serve the demand in one of three ways:
By giving it to you in person (personal service),
By giving it to a member of your household who is old enough and responsible enough to accept it, with a request that it be given to you (substitute service), OR
By mailing to you first class mail.
Starting the Court Case
Once you get a demand for possession, you have seven days to pay the rent or move out. If you don’t do either one, your landlord can start an eviction case against you. A landlord starts an eviction case by filing a summons and complaint in the local district court. A copy of your lease, and a copy of the demand for possession that the landlord served on you, including a "certificate of service" stating how the landlord served you, must be attached to the summons and complaint.
To learn more about eviction cases in court, read the article Going to Court in Eviction Cases.
Going to Court
In court your landlord must prove all of the following to obtain a judgment of eviction for non-payment of rent:
You did not pay your rent.
You were properly served with a demand for possession for nonpayment of rent.
You did not pay your rent or move out within seven days of the notice.
If your landlord does not prove all of these things, the court should find in your favor and you should not be evicted.
Defending Against Eviction for Non-payment
If you paid your rent, you should not be evicted for non-payment of rent. You should tell your landlord you disagree and show proof of your payments. You should never give your landlord your original rent receipts, but instead give him or her copies. If your landlord ignores your proof of payment and files an eviction case in court, bring your original rent receipts to show the judge.
In exchange for rent your landlord must keep your home and common areas in reasonable repair. If your landlord has not done this, you may ask the judge to reduce your rent for the period of time you were living in those conditions. This is called a "rent abatement". Bring any proof you have of these conditions, such a pictures and inspection reports, to court with you.If you spent money repairing your home or dealing with damage to it, you can also file a counterclaim asking the judge or jury to order your landlord to pay those expenses. However, you must not have caused the damage and your landlord must know about it.
Paying Rent after a Judgment
If you’ve been to court and the judge or jury has decided against you for non-payment of rent, the judgment should state how much you owe your landlord. This amount may include late fees (as allowed by your lease), as well as fixed court costs, filing fees, and attorney fees.
The judgment should also tell you that you must either pay the amount owed or move out of your home. In most cases, you will have 10 days to pay or move out. You may ask for more time if you need it. If you do not pay or move out by the deadline, your landlord can get the local police or sheriff to force you to leave.
It’s also possible you and your landlord could come to some sort of agreement to avoid eviction during this time. If so, make sure you get a written agreement signed by your landlord.
If you pay the full amount owed on judgment before the deadline, you must be allowed to stay in your home. Be careful about paying less than the full amount owed on the judgment because your landlord may still be able to evict you.
To learn more about the eviction process read the article Eviction after Court is Over.
Consult the Michigantenants.org website for local housing resources and tenant couseling services
Consult the Michiganlegalaid.org website for legal education articles and local service information.
If you received court papers or otherwise need free or low cost legal advice:
Visit Michiganlegalaid.org and search for local assistance by entering your zip code in the box marked "Find a lawyer, organization or related service to help you with your problem."
Contact the Michigan State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (800) 968-0738.
Persons age 60 or older, regardless of income, may be able to receive free legal advice from the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors by calling (800) 347 5297.
*This is not to be confsed with legal advice. Please consult an attorney.
*This article appears courtesy of Legal Services of South Central Michigan.