How to Prepare a Complaint in Court to Evict a Tenant in Michigan
The basics of completing court-approved complaint forms in Michigan eviction lawsuits.
Before filing an eviction lawsuit in Michigan, a landlord must first serve the appropriate demand or notice. See the Nolo articles Eviction Notices for Lease Violations in Michigan and Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Michigan for details. If the tenant has not paid rent or moved out of the rental property by the given deadline (nonpayment of rent violation), or simply not moved out (if eviction for a lease violation), you can take further action by filing an eviction lawsuit, also known in Michigan as “Summary Proceedings.” For the legal rules, see Section 4.201 of Chapter 4 in the Michigan Court Rules for Summary Proceedings.
Court-Approved Eviction Complaint Forms in Michigan
Landlords in Michigan should use court-approved forms, specifically a Complaint for Nonpayment of Rent or a Complaint to Recover Possession of Property, in the case of a lease violation other than nonpayment of rent. You can choose to use the form found online and make four copies of it, or obtain a carbon-copy form at the local district courthouse. You must file the complaint at the Michigan district court for the city where the rental property is located.
How to Complete the Complaint Forms
Here’s how to fill out the various sections of the complaint form (variations between the two types of complaint are noted below):
Top of the Form
Enter the district court number next to the words “JUDICIAL DISTRICT,” such as “36th” for Detroit or “52-1” for Novi, Michigan (you’ll find this number and other court information at the Michigan Courts Directories). Leave the “Case No.” blank, fill in the court address and telephone number. The landlord’s name and information goes in the “Plaintiff” box. Be sure to verify who the landlord is by looking at the lease or rental agreement and use the same name as found there. The tenant’s name and information goes in the “Defendant” box.
Numbered Items Under “The plaintiff states”
Item 1. If you have not filed, or have not been involved as a defendant in, another lawsuit against or with the tenant, check this first box at item number 1. If another lawsuit currently exists, or has existed in the past, involving the tenant, check the second box. If you check the second box you will must fill in the blanks to provide the name of the court, for example “45th District Court,” and the name of the judge and docket number, also known as case number. This information can be found by looking at the top caption of any court documents from the other lawsuit. To complete item number 1, if you checked the second box then also indicate whether the other lawsuit is currently pending or complete by selecting the last set of boxes.
Item 2. You must include a copy of the signed lease or rental agreement (original signatures are not required) along with the 7-day demand or 30-day notice, already served on the tenant, with the Certificate of Service portion of that form completed.
Item 3. You will add the name of the landlord as indicated in the rental or lease agreement on the blank line in item number 3 as the person entitled to possession of the rental property on the Complaint for Nonpayment of Rent. If you are using the Complaint to Recover Possession of Property, you may check the box that indicates the person entitled to possession is the same person stated on the notice to quit.
Item 4. This item applies if the tenant is only residing in a certain portion or area of the rental property. For example, a property may have multiple buildings or homes located at one address with the tenant only living in one, or the tenant may be moved out of the home but have belongings remaining in a garage – in this case you will describe the portion of the rental property the tenant continues to occupy. If the tenant is simply living in the rental property that the street address corresponds to, then you may state “the rental home located at …” and state the address, or provide whatever information you believe the court will find useful in describing the property the tenant is occupying.
Item 5. This item is contains different information depending on whether you are using the Complaint for Nonpayment of Rent or the Complaint to Recover Possession of Property.
Complaint for Nonpayment of Rent: You must complete letters a. through e. in item number 5 by filling in the blanks for the rental rate and how often rent is to be paid, the rent due date (commonly the first of each month), the date through which rent is presently paid, and the amount now due and unpaid. If the tenant owes you any additional money beyond unpaid rent, like monthly utility payments, you can add this information to letter e.
Complaint to Recover Possession of Property: You may complete letters a. through f. Check as many of the boxes that apply and add the relevant information. Check box a. if the lease has expired and add the date. Check box b. if you served a notice to quit on the tenant, which gave the tenant 30 days’ notice to move out. Check box c. if the lease ended for some reason outlined in the lease or rental agreement other than the term of the lease expiring. Check boxes d. and e. and provide details at f. if the tenant is living on the property as a trespasser or not pursuant to a lease or rental agreement between the tenant and landlord.
Item 6. If your rental property is regulated by a government agency, for example Section 8 low-income housing, then check the box in item number 6.
Item 7. Check this box to indicate the rental property was kept in a livable condition for the tenant, unless, for example, the lease or rental agreement indicated the tenant would bring the property up to certain standards that would allow for a tenant to live in the space.
Item 8. You do not need to complete anything here; item 8 simply says that the tenant has not complied with your eviction notice or demand.
Item 9. You also do not need to complete anything here; item 9 states that you are requesting a court order awarding you possession of the property and monetary payment to compensate for unpaid rent and other rental expenses you may have included in item number 5 (if eviction for nonpayment of rent).
Item 10. This asks whether you want a trial by jury. A trial by jury may be effective when you believe your arguments will be sympathetic to the average citizen. If you do not select a trial by jury, the district court judge will make the final decision on the eviction if it goes to trial. A jury trial is not recommended without consulting an attorney.
Supplemental Complaint. If the tenant owes you money for something other than the rent due, like damage to the property, you may complete the Supplemental Complaint section at the bottom of the complaint form. This section is to compensate you for any losses you may have experienced due to the tenant’s actions or inactions which are not provided for as a regularly scheduled payments under the terms of the lease or rental agreement.
Date and Signature. Finally, you must sign and date the complaint.
Once completed, the complaint will need to be filed with a summons and served on the tenant to begin the court eviction process. See Michigan-Specific Nolo articles How to Prepare a Summons and How to File a Complaint for details.
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.
Finally, the Nolo website includes a wide variety of legal information on state landlord-tenant law.