When it comes to taking court action to evict a tenant in Michigan, landlords must file several legal documents with the local district court, including:
- a complaint (either the Complaint for Nonpayment of Rent or Complaint to Recover Possession of Property),
- a copy of the rental or lease agreement,
- a copy of the demand notice or notice to quit that was served on the tenant, and
- a summons.
This article describes how and when to prepare a summons. (See M.C.L. § 600.5735).
What Is a Summons
A summons in an eviction lawsuit is a legal document informing the tenant he or she is being sued by the landlord for possession of the rental property. The summons states the time and date set by the court for a hearing on the eviction action. It informs the tenant of the tenant’s right to a trial by jury and that the tenant may present reasons in court for why he or she should not be evicted. Finally, the summons gives the tenant information on how to get legal help. See Michigan Court Rule 2.102 for summons information.
The summons consists of three pages. The first page is used by the court to certify that the summons is mailed to the tenant pursuant to Michigan court rules. The court clerk files the original copy of this page with the court and provides you with a copy. The second page is directed specifically to the tenant. The third page is the proof of service you complete and file with the court after serving the tenant with the eviction lawsuit.
When to Prepare a Summons
A summons must be prepared in order to begin the court process to evict a tenant in Michigan. Some courts will prepare the summons for you, but most courts require you, as the person initiating the lawsuit, to prepare the summons on your own and file it with the court clerk.
How to Prepare a Summons
You must use the court-approved summons form which is specific to a landlord-tenant action. On the top of pages one and two of the summons you add the number of the district court, such as “36th” for Detroit or “52-1” for Novi, next to “JUDICIAL DISTRICT” depending on the district court in which you are filing the eviction lawsuit. You will also need to complete the court address and phone number where designated on the form. The box which states “Plaintiff’s name” is where you, as the landlord, fill in your name, address and telephone number and “Defendant’s name” is where you will fill in the tenant’s information. Finally, to complete the caption, check the box that states “Rental unit eviction.”
Numbered Items Under “Notice to Defendant”
Item 1. Check the box indicating “The plaintiff has filed a complaint against you and wants to evict you from” and fill in the address or description of the rental property in the box provided. If you are also seeking a money payment from the tenant, then also check the box indicating “a money judgment for.”
Item 2. The court clerk will fill out item number two with the day, date, time, and location of the eviction hearing.
Items 3, 4, and 5. These items contain information for the tenant and do not require you to complete any additional information.
Certificate of Mailing Sections
Certificate of Mailing by the Court. The court clerk will complete this section once the clerk mails the summons, complaint, and other required documents to the tenant.
Certificate of Mailing by the Plaintiff. If the court clerk does not do the mailing, you must sign and date this section indicating you have mailed a copy of the summons, complaint and other required documents to the tenant.
You must file a copy of page one of the summons with your original signature under the “Certificate of Mailing by Plaintiff” section completed and attach a copy of a receipt of mailing from the post office in order to certify to the court that you served the tenant with the eviction lawsuit.
How to Complete the Proof of Service
Page three of the summons contains the proof of service form. See the Nolo article How to Serve the Complaint and Summons to Evict a Tenant in Michigan for details on service of the eviction lawsuit, including the summons, and filing a proof of service with the court.
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.