Are you a landlord in Muskegon wondering how to evict a renter? In this article, we’ll try to give you a solid overview of the process, and answer commonly asked questions about eviction from the LANDLORDS point of view. Please note that this is general information and you should seek counsel from your real estate attorney for your particular situation. If you have any questions regarding landlord/tenant law, we can help. Contact us at: (231) 726-4484.
Common Reasons for Eviction
Below are some common reasons a landlord may want to evict a renter:
- Renter has stopped paying rent. If this is the case, you should file an eviction notice right away.
- The lease is not being renewed and has expired and the renter hasn’t moved out.
- Your renter has violated a lease term that the lease says will lead to eviction.
- The renter is causing extensive and continuing physical damage to the home
- The renter has created a serious and continuing health hazard in or to the home.
- The renter is involved in illegal drug activity on the property.
Mistakes to Avoid Prior to Eviction:
It’s illegal for you to evict a tenant without getting an eviction order first. As a landlord, you can’t do anything that prevents the tenant from having access to the home. Doing so could result in monetary damages being awarded to the renter. Do not:
- Prevent the renter from accessing the property
- Force, or threaten to force the renter out of the property
- Enter the home without permission (unless it’s an emergency)
- Remove or destroy the renter’s property
- Change the locks or make it difficult for the renter to enter the property
- Cause nuisances to the renter such as loud noises, shutting off the water, electric, gas, etc.
Step 1. Eviction Notice
In most cases, you must give your renter notice/warning before you can begin the eviction process. There are two types of notice, a Notice to Quit and a Demand for Possession.
The Notice to Quit – Used when the renter violates a lease provision or there is no lease and you want the tenant to move out.
Demand for Possession – Used for Nonpayment of rent, Illegal drug activity on the property, etc. There are multiple forms for Demand for Possession, depending on the reason the Demand for Possession is being made.
Here are three common forms, although other forms exist for other situations. If you are not sure which form to use, consult with a Real Estate Attorney.
- Notice to Quit
- Demand for Possession, Nonpayment of Rent, Landlord-Tenant
- Demand for Possession, Damage/Health Hazard to Property, Landlord-Tenant
- Demand for Possession, Termination of Tenancy Due to Unlawful Drug Activity on Premises, Landlord-Tenant
- Demand for Possession, Termination of Tenancy, Mobile Home Park – Mobile Home Owner (Just-Cause Termination)
The eviction notice can be served by:
- Delivering it in person
- Delivering it by mail
- Leaving it with a family member who is old enough to follow instructions to give it to the tenant
- Sending it by email if the tenant has agreed in writing to be served by email, the email has been confirmed, and the tenant has replied to previous emails from you.
The eviction 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
Once the eviction notice has been delivered, the renter has some time to resolve the issue or move out.
|Eviction Reason:||Time Before Filing Court Complaint:|
|Tenant hasn’t paid rent||7 days|
|Tenant has damaged 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||Notice may not be required if it’s been less than 30 days.|
|Month-to-month lease||One rental period|
Step 2. Filing a Complaint with District Court
Filing a Complaint
If the tenant doesn’t resolve the issue or move out of the house, you can proceed to file a complaint with Muskegon’s 60th District Court. The complaint form you file will depend on the type of complaint:
- Complaint, Nonpayment of Rent, Landlord-Tenant
- Complaint, Damage/Health Hazard to Property, Landlord-Tenant
- Complaint to Recover Possession of Property
- Complaint, Termination of Tenancy, Mobile Home Park – Mobile Home Owner (Just-Cause Termination)
Filing a Summons
In addition to filing the complaint, you will also provide a Summons, Landlord-Tenant/Land Contract (Form DC 104). Fill out the top part of the form.
Demanding A Jury Trial
It’s unlikely that you will demand a jury trial without the assistance of a real estate attorney. However, if you are, you will need to fill out Form MC 22 (Jury Demand).
Putting Your Complaint Together
Your complaint will include:
- Completed complaint
- The summons
- Jury demand (if needed)
- The Demand for Possession or Notice to Quit
- Lease or occupancy agreement
You will need FOUR copies of the above items, separated into FOUR packets. Plus you will need a fifth stand-alone copy of the summons. Please note, this assumes there is only one defendant. If there are multiple defendants you will need an additional copy for each additional defendant.
File the Complaint with the Court
Generally, it is a good idea to file your complaint packet with the court in person because you can make arrangements with the court to have the summons and complaint served on the defendant. Also, if you have forgotten something, you can take care of that right away.
The 60th District Cout is located at:
990 Terrace Street
Muskegon, MI 49442
Take your complaint packet to the court clerk. Bring your payment for the filing fee with you. Be prepared to pay for the cost of service. This includes the cost of serving two packets to the defendant, one by first-class mail and one by personal service or delivery as required by Michigan Court Rule 4.201(D). This costs $26.00 plus mileage for each defendant (tenant).
The clerk will record the filing of your complaint, assign a case number, and write the name of the judge assigned to your case on all copies of the summons and complaint forms. The clerk will issue the summons by dating, signing, and sealing the summons.
The clerk will keep the original of the summons and complaint packet for the court file, will mail one copy to the defendant, will make arrangements for personal service or delivery, and will return the remaining packet to you.
Filing proof of service with the court
After the summons and complaint packet is served on the defendant by the process server, the process server will complete the proof of service for the summons form and file it with the court.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Complaint?
The landlord (plaintiff) is responsible for paying the filing fee and other fees. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, these fees may be added to the judgment amount against the tenant. The fees are:
- File a complaint with the district court, $45.00
- Electronic filing system fee of $10 when filing a complaint for possession or money damages only. $20 for a combined complaint for possession and money damages.
- If you are seeking money damages, you must pay an additional filing fee as follows:
- $25 for damage claims up to $600
- $45 for damage claims from $600 to $1,750
- $65 for damage claims over $1,750 to $10,000
- $150 for damage claims over $10,000 to $25,000
- Having the complaint served to the defendant, $26.00 plus mileage for each defendant
Step 3. Hearing/Trail/Judgment
Appearance and answer from the defendant
The defendant must appear and answer the complaint by the date on the summons by either: 1) filing a written answer and serving you with a copy, or 2) orally answering each allegation in the complaint at the hearing/trial.
If you receive from the defendant a written answer to your complaint, make sure you read it before you attend the hearing/trial. Think about what you want to say on your behalf
Prepare for the hearing/trial
To prepare for the hearing, gather the evidence you need to prove your case. This might include a receipt, guarantee, lease, contract, government inspection report, or accident report. If a damaged article is too big to bring with you, photographs can be presented as evidence. It is unlikely that a letter or affidavit from a witness will be accepted as evidence by the court without the witness being physically present at the hearing/trial. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that witnesses appear with you at the hearing/trial.
If a witness is unwilling to appear, you can ask the clerk of the court to issue an order to appear (subpoena), requiring the witness to appear at the hearing/trial. The order to appear must be served on the witness (along with any witness fee) no later than two days before the hearing/trial. You can pay the clerk of the court to make arrangements for service of this order
The hearing/trial will generally be conducted following the procedure in Michigan Court Rule 2.507. Make sure to read this court rule before the hearing/trial. You may want to ask the judge to consider awarding a money judgment for costs pursuant to MCL 600.5741.
What to bring to the hearing
Bring your copy of the Summons and Complaint packet with you to the hearing. Also, bring with you all the evidence you gathered and witnesses who are willing to testify. If you received a written answer from the defendant, bring that also.
Bring form DC 105 in case you need to fill it out in the courtroom. The hearing will take place at the location stated in the summons/notice to appear. It is important for you to appear on time. If you file a complaint and are not in court when your case is called, the case may be dismissed.
- If you are representing yourself, you are expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner and to follow the same general rules as an attorney.
- Make a list of information you think is important for the judge to know. You can use this list as a reminder to bring up the points you think are important.
- If you need someone to attend this hearing who is unwilling to attend, follow the procedure in Michigan Court Rule 2.506 to get an order to appear (subpoena) or consult an attorney.
- Go to the court on the scheduled day and time. Dress neatly. Arrive 10 or 15 minutes early. Bring witnesses with you.
- Go to the clerk and tell him/her your name and that you are there for a hearing. Follow the clerk’s directions and do not interrupt a hearing in progress.
- When your case is called, go to the front of the courtroom and follow the directions of the judge. You will have an opportunity to explain your case to the judge and to prove: 1) that the tenant failed to pay rent, 2) that the tenant was given notice to pay the rent or move out or vacate the premises, and 3) that the tenant did not pay the rent or move out or vacate the premises within 7 days of the notice. Evidence that you present is subject to the Michigan Rules of Evidence. Witnesses will be allowed to tell the court about facts they know firsthand that support your evidence.
- After the judge makes a decision, in most cases the court will prepare an appropriate judgment. If you are required to prepare the judgment, you may want to use form DC 105 to record what the judge said.
- The judge will instruct you about what to do next.
Step 4. Eviction
A judgment in favor of the landlord usually gives the renter time to move out. Usually 10 days but the renter can ask for more time. On the other hand, the judge may sign an immediate Order of Eviction if:
- The renter took possession by force or trespass;
- The renter caused a serious and continuing health hazard to your home; or
- The home is subject to state inspection and ordered vacated.
If the renter doesn’t move out by the deadline or do what is required by the judgment, you can apply for and get an Order of Eviction. The judge must sign the Order before it’s valid. It tells a court officer, such as a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy, to remove the renter and their belongings from the home, and gives you (the landlord) possession of the home. A judge can only issue an Order of Eviction after a judgment is issued.
The tenant will usually get 24 hours’ notice that the eviction order has been issued. Evictions happen any time of year, regardless of the weather.
You must ask for the eviction order within 56 days of the judgment. You must have the eviction carried out within 56 days of the eviction order being issued.
If you need a Real Estate Attorney
We are experts in Landlord/Tenant matters. If you need help from a real estate attorney, please contact us by calling (231) 726-4484 or visit our office at:
1042 Terrace Street
Muskegon, MI 49442