Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed executive orders placing a moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That may give some families several weeks of reprieve. But what happens next?
That’s a question many government officials, landlords, and tenants are wondering.
What the Governor’s Executive Orders Say About Evictions
Signed on March 20, Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-19 allows tenants and mobile home owners to remain in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic even if they are unable to stay current on their rent. The order also relieves courts from certain statutory restrictions to enable them to stay eviction-related proceedings until after the COVID-19 emergency has passed.
The order was first set to expire April 17, but had been extended into May as a result of the ongoing stay-at-home order. It was extended once again on May 14 with Executive Order 2020-85 and will now last until June 11.
“Families across the state are facing a number of uncertainties, from concerns about their health and well-being and that of their loved ones to when their next paycheck will arrive. Worrying about whether they’ll be evicted from their home, apartment or mobile home should not be on this list,” Whitmer said in the March 20 press release. “This executive order will ease a burden on families struggling to make ends meet and allow them to focus on what’s most important — staying safe and healthy.”
In the May 14 release, she reiterated the idea that Michiganders should be able to self-quarantine and continue staying safer at home without fear of being evicted.
“This Executive Order gives renters and mobile home owners some peace of mind as we continue to flatten the curve,” she said.
Evictions in the COVID Era: What Renters Should Know
These orders mean that tenants will not be evicted if they can’t pay their rent, and landlords may not threaten eviction. The exception to the rule is if the tenant or mobile home owner poses a significant risk to another person or the property.
However, the landlords can still demand rent payments, and once the Executive Order expires, eviction cases can begin or continue. That means that those rent payments that the tenants could not make during the course of the pandemic are still due, possibly even piling up and creating an even deeper hole for some renters.
Considering that thousands of Michiganders have lost their jobs as a result of the shutdown, eviction cases are expected to increase after the pandemic is over.
The Typical Eviction Process in Michigan
Landlords in Michigan may evict tenants for reasons such as nonpayment and damage to the property.
It is illegal for the landlord to evict you without going to court to get an eviction order. Depending on the reason for the eviction, the tenant must receive this notice at least 7 days before the eviction or 30 days beforehand. For drug-related offenses, only a 24-hour notice is required.
Only a law enforcement officer can physically remove you or your possessions out of the home.
For the above reasons, the typical eviction case takes several weeks. A backlog of cases is expected after the eviction moratorium expires, so each case may take even longer.
If you are facing eviction or may be at risk of losing your home after the moratorium expires, we can help. There may be specific provisions in the CARES Act that can protect you, and we can help answer any questions you may have about the eviction process. Contact us for a free virtual consultation, which can help you prepare early for what comes next.