Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start?

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Eviction is the legal process of making a tenant move out of a rental home. In Michigan, the law allows for faster access to court and a quicker resolution in an eviction case than a lawsuit would usually take.

It’s illegal for a landlord to evict you without going to court and getting an eviction order first. Your landlord can’t do anything that prevents you from having access to your home without an eviction order. Your landlord must not:

  • Use force or threaten to use force to make you leave or keep you out of your home

  • Enter your home without your permission, unless it’s an emergency

  • Remove, withhold, or destroy your property

  • Change, alter, or add locks or security devices to the home without your permission

  • Board up the premises to prevent entry or make it more difficult

  • Cause an interruption or shut-off of water, electric, or gas service

  • Cause loud noises, bad odors, or other nuisances

  • Put your belongings out on the street

If your landlord does anything to remove you from your home or keep you out of your home by force without an eviction order, you can sue your landlord. If the court rules in your favor, you could be able to stay in the home and recover up to three times the amount of your actual damages or $200 per day, whichever is more. If your landlord gets an eviction order, only the sheriff or another court officer can physically remove you and your belongings from the home.

If you moved into the home without permission, the landlord can probably legally remove you and your belongings. The landlord does not have to go to court to do this. The landlord does not need to have the sheriff or a court officer remove you from the home. This only applies if you moved in without permission or by using force.

Reasons for Eviction

Here are reasons your landlord can start eviction proceedings:

  • You haven’t paid rent;

  • You didn’t move when your lease ended;

  • You violated a lease term that the lease says will lead to eviction;

  • You caused extensive and continuing physical damage to the home;

  • You created a serious and continuing health hazard in or to the home;

  • You were involved in illegal drug activity on the property; or

  • Your landlord believes there is “just cause” or “good cause” to evict you from a mobile home park or from federally subsidized housing. These types of evictions have special rules. To learn more, visit Eviction from Subsidized Housing or I'm Being Evicted from a Mobile Home Park.

Notice Requirements

You are probably entitled to notice before your landlord can evict you. There are two kinds of notice. Both kinds tell you why your landlord wants you to leave and how much time you have to act to avoid a lawsuit.

Your landlord must give you a demand for possession before starting an eviction for:

  • Nonpayment of rent

  • Illegal drug activity on the property

  • Physical damage to the property or creating a health hazard

  • Just cause for mobile home or subsidized housing tenants

Your landlord must give you a notice to quit before starting an eviction when:

  • You violate a lease provision where the lease allows for termination

  • There is no lease and your landlord wants you to move

Your landlord might not be required to give you a notice to quit or demand for possession if you’re being evicted for staying after your lease ends.

If you forced your way into the home or kept it by force, you are not entitled to notice. This is sometimes called trespassing or squatting. If you are trespassing or squatting, you are not a tenant. The landlord does not have to go to court to evict you. The landlord can remove you from the property.

If a notice to quit or demand for possession is required, your landlord can serve it in one of these ways:

  • By giving it to you in person

  • By leaving it at your home with a member of your family who is old enough and responsible enough to give it to you, with a request that it be given to you

  • By mailing it to you

  • 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.

The notice must:

  • Be in writing

  • Be addressed to the tenant

  • Describe the rental property, usually by giving the address

  • Give the reason for the eviction

  • State how much time the tenant has to fix the problem, if there is one

  • Include the landlord’s address and the date of the notice

After getting a notice, you have a certain amount of time to fix the problem, pay rent or take some other action, or move out of the property. If you haven’t done what the landlord requires by the time the notice expires, your landlord can go to court and begin the process to evict you. The amount of time you have to act depends on the reason for the eviction.

Reason for Eviction

Time before Landlord can sue after serving notice or demand for possession

Tenant hasn’t paid rent

7 days

Tenant has injured the home

7 days

Tenant has created a health hazard

7 days

Illegal drug activity on the property

24 hours

Violating a lease provision

30 days

Forceful entry/forceful stay/trespass

No notice required

Tenant has stayed after lease ended

30 days' notice is required if it’s been more than 30 days since the lease ended. Notice may not be required if it’s been less than 30 days.

Just cause for mobile home owners or subsidized housing

The time required varies. To learn more, read

Mobile Home Evictions - Special Rules

Tenant doesn’t have a written lease or it’s a month-to-month lease

One rental period

Read the notice to quit or demand for possession when you get it. If you want to continue living on the property, you may be able to take steps to fix the problem. If you and your landlord can resolve the problem, there may be no need for a court case.

For example, Larry Landlord gave Therese Tenant a demand for possession that said she owes $500 rent. He gives it to her on September 1st. Therese could:

  • Pay the money by September 8th, and stay in the home

  • Move out by September 8th (Larry could still sue Therese for the amount of rent she owes)

  • Talk to Larry to see if they can work something out by September 8th (maybe she doesn’t think she owes the amount of rent he says she owes)

  • Do nothing and wait for Larry to sue (if she chooses to do this, Therese should also get ready for the court case)

If instead Larry gives Therese a notice to quit on May 1st because he thinks she’s gotten a dog when the lease specifically says no pets and the lease states violating it will lead to eviction, she can:

  • Move out by June 1st

  • Talk to Larry to see if they can work something out

  • Wait for Larry to sue (if she chooses to do this, Therese should also get ready for a court case)

To learn more, read Going to Court in an Eviction Case.