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Can You Be Evicted By Your Landlord For Possessing Or Using Controlled Substances?

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Michigan law permits a landlord to make an application for summary proceedings and evict a tenant for a variety of legal reasons. If the tenant is holding over after a leasehold expired or has violated a lease provision, then the landlord can apply for eviction proceedings 30 days after serving a demand for possession. If the tenant has failed to or refuse to pay rent or has threatened to physically harm others on the rental property, then the landlord can apply for eviction proceedings 7 days after serving a demand for possession. However, if the tenant is engaged in illegal drug activity on the premises, then the landlord can apply for eviction proceedings 24 HOURS after serving a demand for possession.

A landlord is entitled to possession of the premises by summary proceedings for illegal drug use under the following circumstances:

  • This provision ONLY applies "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).
  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.

Even if the lease is expired and the landlord and tenant are carrying on a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord may still terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant a written 24-hour notice to quit if prohibited drug activity has occurred on the premises (although a formal police report must still have been filed alleging that the person has unlawfully manufactured, delivered, possessed with intent to deliver, or possessed a controlled substance). MCL 554.134(4).

In addition, illegal drug activity may amount to a basis for a "just-cause" eviction from a mobile home park. Drug activity must be specifically prohibited in the lease, rules and regulations and is related to:

  • The health, safety, or welfare of the mobile home park, its employees, or tenants. MCL 600.5775(2)(b)(i).
  • The quiet enjoyment of the other tenants of the mobile home park. MCL 600.5775(2)(b)(ii).
  • Maintaining the physical condition or appearance of the mobile home park or the mobile homes located in the mobile home park to protect the value of the mobile home park or to maintain its aesthetic quality or appearance. MCL 600.5775(2)(b)(iii).

Marijuana presents a tricky situation. Although it is completely outlawed by federal law as a Schedule 1 drug, Michigan permits its use under a medical marijuana program and even recreational marijuana became legal in December 2018. The new law provides that a landlord may "prohibit or otherwise regulate the consumption, cultivation, distribution, processing, sale, or display of marihuana and marihuana accessories on property the person owns, occupies, or manages, except that a lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from lawfully possessing and consuming marihuana by means other than smoking." MCL 333.27954(4). In sum, a landlord can ban tenants from producing marijuana to smoke on the premises, but it cannot prevent a tenant from possessing marijuana edibles.

The landlord may serve Form DC 100e (Demand for Possession/Termination of Tenancy Due to Unlawful Drug Activity on Premises) upon a tenant to start the 24-hour period. This document may be served by:

  • "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).
  • "By e-mail, 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).

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 that there was actually drug activity on the premises. 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 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.

An accusation that you are involved in illegal drug activity can result in losing your home, but it may also damage your professional reputation or lead to an investigation for criminal liability. These matters are simply too serious to ignore and hope that it just goes away. 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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