(Based on Public Act Number 42 of 1917)
What if a landlord wants a tenant to leave the rental unit at some point in time? How can a landlord do that? By one of two methods. One, the landlord and tenant mutually agree to terminate the rental arrangement. Two, the landlord evicts the tenant. Eviction is the process used by a landlord to remove a tenant from the rented premises with or without the consent of the tenant. The landlord may want the tenant evicted if the tenant's conduct includes any of the following:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Damage to property
- Causing a "serious and continuing" health hazard
- Engaging in illegal activities
- Violation of the terms of the rental agreement (lease)
- Failure to vacate the premises after the lease expires
- Failure to vacate the premises after the landlord has given timely notice to terminate the lease
Evictions Under A Seven-Day Notice To Quit
If a tenant is renting under either a fixed-term or a periodic tenancy and the landlord wishes to evict for reasons 1, 2, 3, or 5 above, it may be done with a seven-day notice to quit. This is a type of eviction notice that gives you seven days to either correct the situation or move.
Example: The rent is due May 1, but the tenant doesn't make the payment. On May 2, the tenant receives a written notice to move out due to nonpayment of rent. On May 9, the landlord can file for a court hearing to evict the tenant if the rent is still unpaid.
Note: Regarding damage to the property or the presence of a serious and continuing health hazard, if there is a major violation of the local or state housing or zoning codes, the city may condemn a structure. Such action would force the tenants to vacate, but if the violation was not caused by them, they would be allowed to sue for money damages (i.e., moving expenses or temporary shelter).
There are other eviction notices such as notice of termination of tenancy for reason 7 above. A tenant who rents under a periodic tenancy can be evicted for any of the above reasons as long as it is not retaliatory or discriminatory. The notice must be in writing and give the tenant at least one rental period's time.
Example: On May 1 the landlord gives a tenant written notice to vacate. The notice states that the tenant is to leave by June 1. This is a proper notice because it includes a full month.
Keep in mind that in each of the above situations, a tenant has a right to a court hearing before any actual eviction takes place. A judge or a jury decides if the tenant must move, not the landlord.
Remember that an eviction notice must include the tenant's name and the address or description of the premises, the reason for the demand (Note: A notice of termination of tenancy need not state a reason), date, and the landlord's signature.
The following should also be noted:
- Tenants are entitled to a written notice of eviction, served properly.
- Tenants are not required to move when the eviction notice expires. Expiration of the notice only enables the landlord to file for a court hearing.
- When a summons is received, keep it and show up in court on time. If the tenant does not go to the hearing, he/she will probably lose the case automatically.
- If you lose the case, you can appeal the decision.
- Only a bailiff with a court order can eject a tenant. Actual eviction can only occur when a writ of restitution is obtained by the landlord and after the landlord has won the court hearing and the appeal period expires.
- You have legal recourse to an illegal eviction. Consult an attorney or housing counselor for assistance. (See Appendix for sample letter to the landlord on eviction attempt.)
There is one final eviction that the tenant should be aware of; "self-help" eviction. It's an attempt by the landlord to remove a tenant from the rented premises without the benefit of the legal eviction process. Public Act Number 300 of 1976 prohibits this type of eviction. The four most common forms are:
- Changing the locks on the doors
- Putting the tenant's possessions out of the rented premises
- Removing the tenant's possessions to another location.
- Turning off utilities
Eviction is a legal process. Unless you are absolutely positive that you know what you are doing, consult an attorney. There is no substitute for good legal advice, and that is what is needed as soon as the process begins.
- The landlord provides a seven-day notice to quit.
- After seven days, the landlord may file a complaint with the district court, whereupon the court shall deliver or mail to the tenant a summons to appear before the court on a certain date.
- At the court hearing, if the tenant wins, the tenancy continues. If the tenant loses, he or she has ten days to pay the rent past due, settle the dispute, or vacate the premises.
- After ten days, if the tenant has not vacated, a writ of restitution is issued by the court commanding the sheriff or other authorized court officer to serve the process and restore the plaintiff to full possession of the premises.