Steps to Eviction

The first step in an eviction process

The guidance below, ‘Steps to Eviction and Special Eviction Cases’ has been compiled by Detroit’s non-profit legal services partners. The City of Detroit takes no responsibility for its content, however, residents facing eviction may find it useful. If you are facing eviction, need legal or financial help regarding an eviction, please call:
Steps to Eviction and Special Eviction Cases. If you are a tenant, your landlord may not evict you unless the landlord follows the legal process outlined below.  If your landlord tries to force you to move and threatens you, call 911.  If you are locked out of your home or apartment, you should seek legal help immediately. In the first step in an eviction process, the landlord provides the tenant with a “Demand for Possession”, also sometimes called a “Notice to Quit” or “Eviction Notice”

  • For nonpayment of rent, the notice provides at least 7 days to pay before court action
  • For terminating the tenancy, the notice period is generally 1 month.
  • If the landlord claims the tenant is causing a health hazard or damaging the property, the notice must provide for 7 days to correct the situation before a court case is filed.
  • These notices are from the landlord and NOT the court.
  • It is always a good idea to obtain help from an attorney at this notice stage if you disagree with the notice.

The next step in the process is for a Complaint to be filed in the Court which issues a Summons for the landlord and tenant to appear for a hearing.

  • Cases are usually scheduled for 10 days from the date the Complaint is filed. With new limits on the number of cases that the court can hear every day, this may change.
  • Usually, the tenant will only get 3 -7 days notice of the court date, which may decrease now with new postal service delays.
  • The tenant should receive two copies of the complaint and summons:  one through the mail and another by personal delivery or taped to the door (if two attempts at personal delivery fail).
  • At this point, you should obtain an attorney if you do not already have one.

Next, the court will conduct the first hearing on the date listed on the summons

  • Currently, all cases are being scheduled for virtual hearings at a precise time. You must be on time for your hearing the cases are scheduled 10-20 minutes apart.
  • These “first hearings” are treated as pre-trials. This means no final decision will be made unless the parties reach a settlement or agreement.  If they disagree, the case will be set for trial a week later.  It is important to have an attorney at this first hearing. 
  • Your case number (which appears in the upper right-hand corner of the Complaint and the Summons) is important for checking in, contacting the court and your attorney.
  • If you do not have an attorney for the first hearing, you should try to get one as soon as possible after the hearing, especially if you “settled” but need help meeting your agreement.
At court, you should raise your defenses or respond to the eviction

If the case is for non-payment of rent, your defenses may include:

  • Payment. If the landlord is asking for rent that includes amounts you already paid, the court can refuse to include those amounts in the judgment.  You should have copies of receipts to prove the amounts paid.
  • Repairs. If repairs that were the landlord’s responsibility were not made, the court could order the landlord to make the repairs and can reduce the rent that is owed.  You should have proof of the repair problems and complaints about them made such as photos, letters, text messages or inspection reports. If there are repair problems, you should call the city of Detroit inspectors at (313) 224-2733.
  • Repair and deduct. The judge can also deduct from the rent claimed by the landlord, the cost of any repairs that you made which were the landlord’s responsibility. Bring your receipts and estimates to show your payments were reasonable.  Also, bring any notices (such as letters or text messages) showing that you informed the landlord of the problem, providing an opportunity to correct it before you made the repair.
  • Constructive eviction. If the landlord turned off the utilities or failed to pay the bill that was the landlord’s responsibility, causing a shut-off, the court can consider this and reduce the rent as well.
  • Excessive Late fees can be rejected by the court. Typically amounts over $35.00 dollars are worth raising.

Termination of tenancy

  • If there is a written lease, the terms of the lease determine when the landlord can end it. This usually means that either the term of the lease has ended or that there has been some violation of the lease on the part of the tenant which permits the landlord to terminate the tenancy.
  • If the written lease term has not ended or there is an oral monthly lease, and the main reason for the eviction is to retaliate against the tenant for exercising lawful rights such as complaining about repairs, the eviction may be illegal.  If the complaint was to a government agency (such as the City of Detroit Building inspectors) and made within 90 days of when the landlord takes the first step to evict, the court must presume the eviction is retaliatory.
  • If the tenant paid rent after getting the notice to terminate the tenancy the court can consider this and may find the notice has been canceled by the landlord’s acceptance of rent.
  • If the landlord is evicting for discriminatory reasons base on race, ethnicity, gender, age, or disability, the eviction is illegal.

Health Hazard or injury to the premises

  • In these types of cases, generally, the problem must be serious and continuing after the tenant has received a notice that the landlord intends to evict for these reasons.
  • The problem must be caused by the tenant, a household member, or a guest of the tenant.  It cannot be something that the landlord failed to repair.
  • The landlord must give the tenant an opportunity to correct the situation.  This may mean making a repair to whatever damage the tenant caused and stopping the continuing conduct that caused it.  The tenant has 7 days to do this.
Judgments. This is the written decision of the court after the court hears the case. There are three types of judgments:
  1. By Default, which occurs when you do not show up on time for your court hearing.  The default provides 10 days for you to do one of the following before you are evicted:  move, or in a nonpayment case, pay the amount stated in the judgment, appeal or file a request for the court to set aside the judgment, explaining why you missed your hearing and what defenses you have to the case.  You have 10 days to file the request and you may need to pay one month’s rent into court in order to have the court review your request. 
  2. By Consent, which occurs when you reach an agreement with your landlord and put it in the judgment which is signed by both of you.  If you are not represented by a lawyer, you will have 3 days to set aside consent, if you did not understand what they were signing or the rights they were giving up.
  3. After hearing, which happens when the court hears your case and makes a decision.  In these cases, you have 10 days to ask the court to reconsider the decision, usually based on new information, or to appeal.

Order of eviction. This is the last step before the bailiff comes out to remove a tenant from the property.  The landlord cannot take this step until the deadline for acting (moving or paying the rent in the judgment) has passed.  The landlord must file an application with the court to obtain an order of eviction.  On the application, the landlord must state whether any money had been paid since the court issued the judgment. There is no need for the judge to schedule another hearing on these applications unless they are filed more than 56 days after the date of the judgment and the parties have not waived the right to a hearing.

In the 36th District Court, the process is as follows
  1. The Application for an Order of Eviction is received and logged in the court’s computer system and public register of actions.
  2. A copy of the application is mailed to the tenant.
  3. The file is sent to the judge to review the application and sign an order of eviction or schedule a hearing.   The time for each judge to take this action varies considerably.
  4. Once signed, the Order of Eviction is sent to the bailiff to implement.
  5. In order for the bailiff to evict, the landlord must have a dumpster delivered to the site for the tenant’s belongings or personal property.  Once the dumpster is delivered to the property, the eviction typically occurs shortly thereafter.
Special Eviction Cases

Subsidized Housing – Sometimes referred to as “Section 8” (voucher or site-based) or “public housing.” All of these types of housing involve a continuing lease and various additional federal protections under the lease. The landlord must show that the tenant violated a provision of the lease. This housing, however, has other requirements of tenants that can become a problem.

Generally, the tenant must:

  1. Make sure that only the people listed on the lease reside in the home.
  2. Since the rent is based on household income, accurately report all income for all occupants and promptly report all increases or decreases in income so that the rent may be readjusted. Failure to accurately or timely report income changes can provide a basis for eviction.  Income decreases can reduce rents.
  3. Annually recertify.  This means reporting all income and providing documentation regarding all persons in the household.
  4. Mortgage Foreclosure – Tenants who are not related to the landlord should get a 90-day notice after the landlord’s redemption expires before an eviction court case is filed.  Or, if they have a written lease for a term, they should be allowed to remain in the property until the lease ends.  If the mortgage was insured by HUD, they may also have a right to remain in the property as a continuing tenant of HUD until the property is sold.