How to Obtain a Judgment at an Eviction Hearing in Michigan
Learn about preparing a judgment form in a Michigan eviction lawsuit.
Landlords who want to evict a tenant in Michigan must follow specific steps in order to obtain a judgment against the tenant at an eviction hearing. These steps include serving an eviction demand, summons, and complaint on the tenant and filing these documents with the court. After a landlord prepares and serves all the appropriate legal eviction paperwork in Michigan, the next step is an eviction hearing which will result in a judgment in favor of either the landlord or the tenant. The judgment is a court order for the tenant to move out of the rental property and pay the landlord any unpaid rent and/or damages to the property.
Before attending the hearing, the landlord should have a judgment form prepared to hand to the judge once the judge makes a final decision in the case. The landlord should fill in as much information as possible on the judgment form so it is easy to complete once the judge makes a ruling. The articles in the Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law section of the Nolo site explain how to prepare eviction notices and attend an eviction hearing.
This article will explain how to prepare the judgment form itself in Michigan.
How to Prepare the Judgment Landlord-Tenant
You must use the court-approved judgment form in a Michigan landlord-tenant case. This form should be prepared by the landlord in advance of the eviction hearing. The landlord or the judge will then complete the judgment form once the judge makes a decision on the issues (that is, whether the tenant must move out of the rental unit and whether the tenant must pay any money to the landlord).
There is a possibility the landlord and tenant can talk and work out a resolution before the hearing begins. (See the Nolo article How Eviction Hearings Work in Michigan for details.) Often the judge will ask the parties whether they have talked about resolving the issues on their own. If a resolution can be reached, the landlord and tenant can fill out the judgment form together and present it to the judge at the beginning of the hearing; this is called a consent judgment and can be indicated as such on the judgment form.
Items at the Top of the Judgment Landlord-Tenant Form
You should fill in the district court number next to the words “DISTRICT COURT” at the top left corner of the form (for example, “36th” for Detroit or “52-1” for Novi). At the opposite corner, fill in the case number. Below that, add the court address and telephone number. Put the landlord’s name in the “Plaintiff” box and the tenant’s name in the “Defendant” box. The “Personal service” boxes will typically be checked by the court clerk if the landlord and tenant are personally handed a copy of the judgment after it is approved by the judge.
Items under “THE COURT FINDS:”
Check one of the three boxes, “by hearing,” “default” or “consent,” depending on how the outcome of the eviction hearing came about. If the tenant appeared and the judge made a decision based on each party’s testimony and evidence, then check the box for “hearing.” If the tenant did not appear and the judge made a decision based only on the landlord’s testimony and evidence, then check the box for by “default.” If the parties agreed to a resolution of the eviction hearing without the judge having to make a decision, then check the box by “consent.”
“POSSESSION JUDGMENT” Section
You will check one or a combination of two of the three boxes numbered “1.” through “3.”. Check box number 1 if the outcome is that the tenant must move out of the rental property. Check box number 2 if the outcome is that the tenant must pay unpaid rent to stay in the rental property and add the amount of unpaid rent, costs, and total. Check box number 3 if the outcome is that the tenant does not have to move out of the rental property. If the tenant must move out of the rental property and pay unpaid rent, then check box numbers 1 and 2.
Numbered items under “TO THE DEFENDANT:”
Although a judgment is a legal document that orders a tenant to move out of the rental property, it is not an order of eviction whereby the tenant is physically forced out of the rental property. Paragraph 4 provides for the 10-day deadline given to tenants in Michigan before a landlord can apply, or file another form, requesting the final eviction order. In serious situations, like those causing a health or safety problem at the rental property, the judge may waive the 10-day waiting period and issue an immediate eviction order.
4a. Check this box if the tenant must pay rent due or move out of the rental property based on the judge’s decision or by consent of the landlord and tenant. The blank line must be filled in with a deadline date of ten days from the date of the judgment according to Michigan law, M.C.L. § 600.5744(4).
4b. Check this box if the tenant must move out of the rental property and payment of unpaid rent is not an option. The blank line must be filled in with a deadline date of ten days from the date of the judgment.
4c. Check this box if the court issued an immediate order of eviction. The judge can order the tenant to move out of the rental property immediately under Michigan law, M.C.L. § 600.5744(2), if any of the following circumstances exist:
- the tenant obtained possession of the rental property by force
- the tenant is maintaining possession of the rental property by force
- the tenant came into possession of the rental property by trespassing, or
- the tenant is causing a health hazard at or causing injury to the rental property.
5. Check box number 5 if the tenant is currently living in the rental property and it is unknown whether the tenant will cause damage to the rental property upon moving out, or will owe additional rent depending on the tenant’s actual move-out date. This box should be checked to warn the tenant that additional money may be due to the landlord beyond what is stated in the judgment, and the landlord is reserving his or her right to come back to court to obtain another judgment for the additional costs.
6. If you agree to accept partial payment and allow the tenant to stay longer in the rental property, then check box number 6 and the “will” box to prevent the court from issuing an eviction order. Otherwise, check box number 6 and the “will not” box, so that if the tenant does make a partial payment the court will still issue an order of eviction when requested.
7. If the judgment is solely to order the tenant to move out of the rental property and not for payment of any money then check box number 7.
“MONEY JUDGMENT” Section
If the eviction action also requested monetary payment by the tenant for something other than unpaid rent, the landlord may complete this section.
8. Check this box if you already have a judgment against the tenant ordering the tenant to move out of the rental property and the current judgment you are preparing is to obtain a money payment only. Sometimes the landlord will obtain a judgment from the court for the tenant to move out of the rental property only and is not asking for payment of any unpaid rent or damages to the property. The landlord may go back to court to get a second judgment against the tenant for payment of these amounts after the tenant is ordered to move out, especially if the tenant damages the rental property in the process of moving out.
9. Check this box if this judgment is being used to order the tenant to move out of the rental property and also to pay a monetary sum to the landlord for something other than unpaid rent. The monetary payment can be determined and ordered by the judge or can be the result of consent by the landlord and tenant. Then, enter the amount of money ordered to be paid by the tenant next to the word “Damages,” enter any costs incurred by the landlord, and then total the amount due.
End of the Judgment Form
Finally, if the court ordered any other relief different or not included in what already has been filled out on the judgment form, you may describe that relief at paragraph 10. Examples of other relief include the tenant returning the keys to the rental property to the landlord or the landlord returning the tenant’s security deposit to the tenant. The judge will sign and date the judgment and the court will complete the “CERTIFICATE OF MAILING” portion of the form indicating the judgment was served on the parties.
The box at the bottom right corner of the judgment form must be signed by both the landlord and tenant if the judgment is a result of the consent, or agreement, of the parties without the need for a hearing.
The judge will provide the date for the parties to file a motion for reconsideration of the judge’s decision at the hearing and will check the box indicating the judge explained Michigan Court Rule 4.201(L), which details how and when an order of eviction may be obtained by the landlord.
After you obtain a judgment signed by the judge from the eviction hearing, you must do your part to comply with the judgment, such as waiting 10 days for the tenant to move out. If the tenant moves out within the 10day period, you may enter the rental property and change the locks. If the tenant moves out of the rental property but does not pay you the rent or other money due according to the judgment you may need to take further legal action to collect this debt.
Resources on Michigan Landlord-Tenant Law
The Michigan Courts Self-Help Center provides useful information on evictions and taking court action. Another useful site is Michigan Legal Help, which provides advice on housing-related legal issues, including evictions, for both landlords and tenants. The Michigan Legislature’s website publishes a useful guide to landlord-tenant law in Michigan.