Written by Shane F. Diehl, Esq.
With the advent of the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, and all other Executive Orders issued by Governor Whitmer, many folks are finding themselves without a paycheck to pay for necessary expenses, including rent.
The City of Detroit recognized early that the shutdown of business was going to be a problem and the District Court Chief Judge issued a moratorium on all evictions in the 36th District Court in early March, 2020. President Trump took similar action a few days later by suspending all evictions and foreclosures involving the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development properties.
Governor Whitmer announced a State of Emergency in Michigan on March 10, 2020, extended the tax foreclosure deadline in Michigan until after May 29, 2020, and then, on March 20, 2020, issued her Executive Order 2020-19 which temporarily prohibits the eviction of a tenant from their house or mobile home.
Under the terms of the Executive Order, a landlord is prohibited from evicting a tenant from the rental property except in the case where the tenant poses a substantial risk to others or imminent and severe risk to the property. The Order is effective until the end of the day on April 17, 2020. The Order may be extended by the governor at any time.
This Order does not mean that the tenant is no longer obligated to pay rent or comply with all statutes or terms of the lease. It just means that they cannot be removed from the property until the Order expires. It should also be noted that the Order prohibits any attempt to personally serve or deliver a demand for payment to the tenant during the moratorium period. The governor does not want parties meeting face to face at this time or at least until after April 17.
If a landlord has already obtained a writ to take back possession of the property pursuant to a previously obtained judgment, the landlord is prohibited from executing on that order in attempting to remove the tenant from the property. Again, unless the tenant poses an imminent risk to others or the premises. All court officers are prohibited from serving those writs and orders until after April 17. Further, the landlord may not prohibit the tenant from accessing the leased premises during this moratorium.
If a landlord has already filed an eviction action or has served a notice or taken some other action which requires the eviction to move forward, all statutory requirements or limits on the Courts to move forward are adjourned and tolled for 30 days and the deadlines are suspended. This means that if a landlord has already filed an action, the date for the hearing on that action will not occur until after the moratorium has expired and the statutory requirement that the hearing be held within a certain period of time is suspended.
Everyone should understand that a willful violation of any of the terms of the governor’s Order is considered a misdemeanor and will be prosecuted.
This moratorium period is not to be considered a tenant’s rent-free holiday. Once the Order has expired, all proceedings may and are expected to move forward. As such, tenants should, if they can, take this time to try and raise the past due rent or correct the violations which led to the impending eviction. Landlords should take this time to make sure that they have taken all appropriate steps in the eviction process and be prepared to proceed, if necessary, once the moratorium has been lifted.
If you have questions with regard to how the Governor’s Executive Order affects your landlord-tenant relationship, please contact us at your earliest convenience. Our experienced attorneys are available to assist you through this process during these unique times.
Shane F. Diehl is a senior associate attorney with the Firm and has been with the Firm since 2008. He has over 26 years of experience in representing condominium, subdivision and co-operative associations in Southeast Michigan and has represented hundreds of such associations in addressing all aspects of community association representation. In addition, Mr. Diehl has 10 years of experience in the banking industry and is a former instructor for the American Institute of Banking. He also has extensive experience in estate planning, and has served as an officer, trustee and member of numerous non-profit and civic organizations, including the Four County Community Foundation and the Armada Village Planning Commission. Mr. Diehl resides in Armada, Michigan and works from our Macomb County office in Mt. Clemens.
Mr. Diehl holds an Associate in Arts Degree from Ferris State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Toledo, Ohio. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Toledo College of Law in 1989. He is licensed to practice in the State of Michigan since 1990, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.