Michigan Supreme Court explains continued ban on evictions statewide

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 7:21 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Late last week, the Michigan Supreme Court issued new guidance for landlords and district courts in reaction to September’s nationwide eviction moratorium.

The measure will remain in place through the end of the year. The court’s new guidance clears up a few legal questions about what is and isn’t allowed.

There’s an important document tenants need to fill out to protect themselves from eviction. A landlord said many tenants don’t know about it -- and that’s creating problems.

“It’s definitely a nightmare. Our hands are kind of tied and it’s just like, at what point do they start taking it into their own hands," said landlord Ed Constable.

He has been in limbo, trying to figure out how to handle some of his tenants who are behind on rent.

“We are taking people to court. I have not actually had to order a writ. I’ve worked with people on a case-by-case basis,” Constable said.

He he and district courts, where landlord-tenant eviction cases typically are heard, have limitations for what can happen in court during the national moratorium.

The new order by the Michigan Supreme Court requires landlords to fill out a form stating whether a tenant has filled out an affidavit saying they meet the criteria to be protected from eviction during the moratorium because of job or income loss due to COVID-19.

The court order also states that the courts can process cases of non-payment and a judgment can be entered, but physically evicting someone is illegal, if the right documents have been filed. But what Constable is finding technically opens the doors for the eviction process to proceed.

“If the tenant supplies you with that affidavit, then you can’t evict them," he said. "I personally don’t know anyone who has been supplied that affidavit. Seems like now, we have to supply an affidavit yet we haven’t gotten an affidavit.”

Michigan’s separate eviction diversion program is offering roughly $40 million in assistance for renters and landlords.

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