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When Can A Landlord Terminate A Lease Early In Michigan?

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Michigan law provides for accelerated eviction actions, formally known as “summary proceedings”, to allow landlords to quickly recover possession of the leased premises. The reasons that a landlord may do this include non-payment of rent, illegal activity on the rented premises or violations of the lease terms. However, the landlord must serve notice on the tenant of his or her intention to terminate the tenancy before proceeding to court.

According to Michigan law, a landlord may recover possession of the rented premises by summary proceedings in any of the following circumstances:

  • “When a person holds over premises after failing or refusing to pay rent due under the lease or agreement by which the person holds the premises within 7 days from the service of a written demand for possession for nonpayment of the rent due. For the purpose of this subdivision, rent due does not include any accelerated indebtedness because of a breach of the lease under which the premises are held.” MCL 600.5714(1)(a).
  • “When a person holds over premises for 24 hours following service of a written demand for possession for termination of the lease pursuant to a clause in the lease providing for termination because a tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or other person under the tenant’s control has unlawfully manufactured, delivered, possessed with intent to deliver, or possessed a controlled substance on the leased premises. This subdivision applies only if a formal police report has been filed alleging that the person has unlawfully manufactured, delivered, possessed with intent to deliver, or possessed a controlled substance on the leased premises.” MCL 600.5714(1)(b). A tenant or occupant of housing operated by a city, village, township, or other unit of local government or a tenant of a mobile home park is not considered to be holding over unless the tenancy is terminated for just cause. MCL 600.5714(2) and (3). “Controlled substance” means a substance or counterfeit substance classified under:
  1. Schedule 1 of the Public Health Code, which includes but is not limited to heroin, peyote, Ecstasy (MDMA) and fentanyl.
  2. Schedule 2 of the Public Health Code, which includes but is not limited to cocaine, opium, high potency morphine, oxycodone and methamphetamines.
  3. Schedule 3 of the Public Health Code, which includes but is not limited to low potency morphine, anabolic steroids and certain codeine mixtures.
  • When a person holds over premises in 1 or more of the following circumstances:
  1. “After termination of the lease, pursuant to a power to terminate provided in the lease or implied by law.” MCL 600.5714(1)(c)(i).
  2. “After the term for which the premises are demised to the person or to the person under whom he or she holds.” MCL 600.5714(1)(c)(ii).
  3. “After the termination of the person’s estate by a notice to quit as provided by MCL 554.134.” MCL 600.5714(1)(c)(iii).

A tenant or occupant of housing operated by a city, village, township or other unit of local government or a tenant of a mobile home park is not considered to be holding over unless the tenancy is terminated for just cause.  MCL 600.5714(2) and (3).

  • “When the person in possession willfully or negligently causes a serious and continuing health hazard to exist on the premises, or causes extensive and continuing physical injury to the premises, which was discovered or should reasonably have been discovered by the party seeking possession not earlier than 90 days before the institution of proceedings under this chapter and when the person in possession neglects or refuses for 7 days after service of a demand for possession of the premises to deliver up possession of the premises or to substantially restore or repair the premises.” MCL 600.5714(1)(d).
  • “When a person holds over premises for 7 days following service of a written notice to quit for termination of the lease after the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a person under the tenant’s control, on real property owned or operated by the tenant’s landlord, has caused or threatened physical injury to an individual.” MCL 600.5714(1)(e). This subdivision applies only if the police department with jurisdiction has been notified that the person, on real property owned or operated by the tenant’s landlord, caused or threatened physical injury to an individual. This subdivision does not apply in either of the following cases:”
  1. “The individual who was physically injured or threatened is the tenant or a member of the tenant’s household.”
  2. “Application would result in a violation of federal housing regulations.”
  • “When a person takes possession of premises by means of a forcible entry, holds possession of premises by force after a peaceable entry, or comes into possession of premises by trespass without color of title or other possessory interest. This remedy is in addition to the remedy of entry permitted under MCL 600.5711(3)(Michigan’s “anti-squatter” law). MCL 600.5714(1)(f).
  • “When a person continues in possession of premises sold by virtue of a mortgage or execution (e.g. from foreclosure proceedings), after the time limited by law for redemption of the premises.” MCL 600.5714(1)(g).
  • “When a person continues in possession of premises sold and conveyed by a personal representative under license from the probate court or under authority in the will.” MCL 600.5714(1)(h).

The landlord must serve a written demand for possession to the tenant. This demand may be served by any of the following means:

  • “Personal delivery to the person in possession.” MCL 600.5718(1)(a).
  • “Personal delivery on the premises to a member of the family or household or an employee of the person in possession, who is of suitable age and discretion, with a request that it be delivered to the person in possession.” MCL 600.5718(1)(b).
  • “First-class mail addressed to the person in possession. If the demand is mailed, the date of service for purposes of this chapter is the next regular day for delivery of mail after the day when it was mailed.” MCL 600.5718(1)(c).
  • “[B]y electronic service, if the person in possession has in writing specifically consented to electronic service of the demand and if the consent or confirmation of the consent has been sent by 1 party and affirmatively replied to, by electronic transmission, by the other party.” MCL 600.5718(1)(d). “The electronic service address used by a party… shall be considered to remain that party’s correct, functioning electronic service address”, unless the landlord or tenant agree to using a different electronic service address for that party or unless that party notifies the other in writing that that party no longer has an electronic service address. “A landlord shall not refuse to enter a lease because the prospective tenant declines to consent to electronic service under this section.” MCL 600.5718(2).

If the tenant is still in possession of the premises after the time period in the demand for possession ends, then the landlord may file suit in district court. It is illegal for a landlord to evict you without obtaining an eviction order first. The tenant has the right to contest the proceedings and force the landlord to show why he or she should be evicted at a trial. The tenant may have actually tried to pay rent that the landlord refused, or that the tenant did not actually violate the terms of the lease. If this is the case, then the judge should deny the eviction. Keep in mind that the tenant will still have an obligation to follow the terms of the lease or pay rent while the court case is pending (which may require making payments in escrow directly to the court). An escrow order will often be requested by the landlord to prevent the tenant from living rent-free while the case is pending. Failure to continue rent payments during the proceedings can create grounds for eviction where none may have existed before.

These summary proceedings require an understanding of the rules of evidence and civil procedure to conduct properly, so you could benefit from the assistance of an experienced attorney in your corner. A lawyer can either help negotiate a resolution with the landlord to avoid eviction (e.g. repayment plan for back rent) or represent you at a trial to prove that there was no legal basis for eviction. If you fail to respond to the legal proceedings or lose a trial, the district court judge can issue an order requiring the tenant to leave the rented premises in 10 days, or else the landlord can apply for a writ of eviction to have the county sheriff remove the tenant.

If you are a tenant facing eviction and need legal advice or representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

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