When a tenant fails to pay rent, a landlord must take specific steps under Michigan landlord-tenant law to force the tenant to either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property. Michigan law prohibits “self-help” eviction remedies; this means the landlord cannot take personal action to remove the tenant from the rental property, such as entering the home and changing the locks, without obtaining a court order. The first step a landlord must take to evict a tenant who has not paid rent is to serve the tenant with a Demand for Nonpayment of Rent under Michigan state law (M.C.L. § 600.5701 and following).
This article explains the basics of evicting a tenant in Michigan for nonpayment of rent. It discusses the Demand for Nonpayment of Rent that gives tenants the right to pay the rent rather than face an eviction lawsuit. Landlords who do not want to give tenant the option of paying the rent must use a notice to quit or demand for possession, which allows the tenant 30 days to move before the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Demand for Nonpayment of Rent
If the tenant does not pay rent on the day rent is due according to the lease or rental agreement between the tenant and landlord, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Demand for Nonpayment of Rent. This Demand gives the tenant notice that the tenant must either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property within seven days of the notice.
What Is Included in the Demand for Nonpayment of Rent?
Michigan courts provide the landlord with a court-approved form to use as the Demand for Nonpayment of Rent.
The landlord must include the following information when completing the Demand form:
- the name and address of the tenant
- the landlord’s name
- the amount of rent presently owed by the tenant to the landlord, and
- the landlord’s signature.
The Certificate of Service portion at the bottom of the form is left blank until after the landlord serves the tenant with the Demand (see the discussion for details on completing the Certificate at that point).
How to Serve the Tenant with the Demand for Nonpayment of Rent
Once the Demand form is filled out, the landlord must serve the Demand on the tenant by delivering it to the tenant using one of the following methods:
- personal delivery to the tenant
- personal delivery to the tenant’s rental property and given to any adult there with a request to give the Demand to the tenant, or
- by first-class regular mail addressed to the tenant.
After the landlord serves the tenant with the Demand, the landlord should complete the Certificate of Service portion of the Demand on the landlord’s copy. The landlord must include on the Certificate of Service the name of the person served, the method of service, the date of service, and the landlord’s signature. This fully completed Demand will be needed if the tenant fails to comply with the Demand and the landlord is then forced to take further action by filing an eviction lawsuit in court.
Tenant Options When Served with a Seven-Day Demand for Nonpayment of Rent
The tenant’s response to a Demand may have different consequences:
- If the tenant pays the rent within the seven-day time period, then the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction.
- If the tenant does not pay the rent, but moves out within seven days, the landlord may use the tenant’s security deposit (if any) to cover the unpaid rent after following certain steps required under Michigan law. If the security deposit does not cover all the rent due and owing, including late charges, then the landlord can sue the tenant in small claims court for the rent still owed (up to the court limit of $5,000). See Nolo’s article for landlords on handling security deposit disputes in Michigan small claims courts for details.
- If the tenant does not pay the full rent within the seven-day time period and does not move out of the property, then the landlord can file a complaint with district court to gain possession of the property.
Mobile Home Parks
If the rental property where the tenant lives is in a mobile home park, Michigan’s rules on eviction change. A tenant in a mobile home park cannot be evicted on the first occasion of missed rent, rather there must have been three occasions of nonpayment of rent in a 12 month period and the Demand for Nonpayment of Rent must include a special notice per Michigan state law (M.C.L. § 600.5771 and following).
Resources on Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent in Michigan
The Michigan Courts Self-Help Center provides useful information on evictions for nonpayment of rent. Another useful site is Michigan Legal Help, which provides advice on housing–related legal issues for both landlords and tenants. The Michigan Legislature’s website publishes a useful guide to landlord-tenant law in Michigan.
For more articles on landlord-tenant laws in Michigan, including Michigan tenant rights to withhold rent and illegal eviction procedures in Michigan, see the Michigan charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo site. For more on eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site.