If you cause a health hazard, or extensive and continuing damage to property you’re renting, your landlord can make you fix the problem or move out. A health hazard is a condition that is dangerous to people’s health and safety. It must be serious and ongoing. Extensive and continuing damage is severe harm to the property that is ongoing.
If you don’t fix the problem or move, your landlord can evict you. Your landlord must go to court to legally evict you. It is illegal for a landlord to personally remove you from the property. To learn more about how eviction starts, read Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start?
Eviction is a serious matter. You may want to have a lawyer represent you in your eviction case. If you have a low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer. To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory. This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.
Demand for Possession
Your landlord must give you a Demand for Possession before you can be evicted for a health hazard or damage to the property. This is the first step in the eviction process. The demand must meet all of these requirements:
Be in writing
Be addressed to you, the tenant
Describe the rental property, usually by giving the address
Clearly describe the hazard or damage to the property
Say you have seven days to repair the damage, remove the hazard, or move out
Include the landlord’s address and the date of the notice
Your landlord must serve the demand on you. Your landlord can serve the demand in any of the following ways:
By giving it to you in person (personal service)
By giving it to a member of your household who is old enough and responsible enough to accept it, with a request that it be given to you (substitute service)
By mailing it to you via first class mail
By sending it to you electronically (by e-mail)
In order for your landlord to be able to serve you by e-mail all of these must happen:
You must have agreed to be served by e-mail in writing (this agreement could be in your lease)
Your landlord must have sent you the agreement or confirmation by e-mail
You must have replied to your landlord’s e-mail
If you change your e-mail address, you must let your landlord know about your new e-mail address in writing, or go through the process listed above for your new e-mail address.
Some examples of improper service are slipping the demand under your door, leaving the demand outside your door, attaching the demand to your property, or mailing the demand by methods that require a signature.
Starting the Court Case
Once you get a demand you have seven days to fix the problem or move out. If you don’t do either one, your landlord can start an eviction case against you.
A landlord starts an eviction case by filing a summons and complaint with the local district court. A copy of the lease must be attached. A copy of the Demand for Possession and its Proof of Service must also be attached.
Your landlord can ask the court to just evict you (called possession), or to evict you and get money damages. To learn about eviction cases in court, read Going to Court in Eviction Cases.
Defending Against Eviction for Health Hazard or Damage to the Property
Before you can be evicted your landlord must prove:
The health hazard or damage to the property is extensive;
The problem is continuing (not a one-time thing);
You caused the problem, whether on purpose or by accident;
Your landlord started the eviction within 90 days of learning about the problem; and
You did not fix the problem or move out within seven days of the demand for possession.
If you didn’t cause a continuing health hazard or damage to the property, you should not be evicted for this reason. If there is not a current and ongoing problem, you should not be evicted for this reason. If you disagree with your landlord’s claims, you may want to tell your landlord and see if you can work something out before you go to court.
You might have a defense or a counterclaim that could stop the eviction from happening. For example, if you think your landlord is trying to punish you for something you had a right to do, like contacting a housing inspector, you might have a defense called retaliatory eviction. To learn more about defending your eviction case, read Common Defenses and Counterclaims in Eviction Cases.
When you're defending a case in court, you may want to have a lawyer. A lawyer can help you raise these and other, more complicated defenses to eviction. If you need a lawyer and have low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and legal services in your area.
When an eviction judgment is entered against a tenant, the tenant usually has 10 days to move out before a judge will order the tenant be evicted. But if the landlord asked for it in the complaint, the judge can issue an order of eviction immediately. This means you could be evicted immediately if there is a judgment against you.
To learn more about the eviction process, read Eviction after Court Is Over.