We have all heard the recent story about an Airbnb guest in California who made use of a 30-day occupation law to establish legal rights as a tenant of an apartment, much to the dismay of the apartment owner. While it is always important to check your state-specific tenant laws for loopholes, landlords usually do have ways to protect themselves in the event they encounter a tenant that refuses to vacate an apartment.
In Michigan, there are three main reasons a landlord may cite to evict a tenant from a rental property: termination of tenancy, creation of a health hazard, and non-payment of rent. To start an eviction due to the non-payment of rent, a landlord will usually send out a form known as a Michigan Demand for Possession/Non-Payment of Rent form DC100a. This letter is a notice from the landlord indicating to the tenant that they have seven days to pay the rent.
You may serve a Michigan Demand for Possession form to your tenant in three ways. You may deliver it personally to the tenant; deliver it on the premises to a member of the tenant’s family or household, or to an employee of the tenant with a request that it be delivered to the tenant; or you may send it by first-class mail addressed to the tenant. Note that you should never slip the demand under the tenant’s door, attach the demand to the property, or mail the demand by methods that require a signature. Be careful to follow the requirements for Form DC 100a, because failure to do so is rounds for the dismissal of the complaint in court.
As a landlord, you also need to take care not to overstep your rights by changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or forcibly removing your tenant from the premises. If you do, you may be held liable for any damages you incur under the state ‘Lock Out Law’. The Lock Out Law states that if a tenant is illegally forced out of all or a portion of her or his home, due to a landlord’s acts or failure to act, she or he is entitled to damages for each occurrence. Remember, the only way a tenant can legally be forced out of her or his home is through a court order.
Ultimately your best defense as a landlord is following your legal obligations to the letter. For more on Tenant/Landlord Rights, see this guide put out Michigan.gov, and get started filling out your Michigan form DC100a with PDFfiller now.