Full Service Real Estate Firm Serving Michigan Landlords
When disputes and other issues arise that require a legal eye, the Law Office of Jeremy R.M. Piper, PLC can help.
From drafting customized lease agreements and land contracts to screening potential renters to preparing eviction notices, you can count on us to make sure your rights are protected.
Our goal is the same as yours — to protect your investment, keep your units full, and increase cash flow!
Whether you own single or multi-unit residential or commercial real estate properties, our founding attorney Jeremy Piper can provide guidance to mitigate your risk and maximize your profitability.
Jeremy Piper and his team are the best group of lawyers we have worked with. I oversee three large apartment communities with over 500 units and he assists us with everything. He is also able to get a fair outcome, which, some know is not easy. Piper Legal is the best and worth every penny!
Quality Legal Services For Landlords
We assist landlords, property management companies, and business owners with the following:
- Comprehensive Tenant Screening: It can be time consuming and challenging to thoroughly investigate a tenant’s background. Piper Legal’s proprietary technology revolutionizes the court process for landlords, resulting in higher income and fewer vacancies. Our program is easy to use and can help you locate the right tenant for your Michigan rental property. Get started!
- Negotiating and Drafting Binding Residential and Commercial
Leases: We can help craft an airtight rental or lease agreement that protects your assets and reduces risks. We know what you are legally required to disclose, as well as what clauses are illegal and could get you into trouble.
- Real Estate Transactions: Commercial refinancing? Construction loan? Cash deal? Residential purchase? Piper Legal can be your cost effective, legal team for your transaction. We handle tens of millions of dollars of real estate financing transactions annually. Do you have questions about property you have previously bought or sold?
- Condominium Assessment Collection: Are you on the board of your condominium association? Tired of your neighbors not paying their share? We specialize in fast and economical dues and assessment collection.
- Small Business Issues: Looking to start a business? Want to form a Limited Liability Company? Have an existing business and not sure you are protected? Contact our office with your questions or concerns and we will reply ASAP.
- Collection: Does someone owe you money? Have a delinquent account? Our office specializes in collection cases. We are successful at collecting outstanding fees on loans, service contracts, promissory notes, etc., often without filing a lawsuit! For information on how to collect an outstanding debt, email our office.
- Tenant Disputes: We help you resolve disputes and contested proceedings with tenants on a wide range of issues including security deposits, lease violations, repair obligations, etc.
- Compliance with Michigan Landlord Tenant Laws: Advise landlords to take actions in accordance with Michigan statutes and laws, including but not limited to: the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act, the Federal and State Fair Housing Act, the Truth in Renting Act, and the Summary Proceedings Act.
- Eviction: We provide a streamlined eviction process that helps you recover possession of your property as quickly and efficiently as possible. From filing the initial notice all the way through the eviction order, we advise you every step of the way and protect you from any potential liability.
Landlord Rights in Disputes with Tenants
It’s not uncommon for landlords and tenants to have disagreements around issues involving rent, noise, repair problems, and security deposits.
Your options for resolving conflicts will vary according to the specifics of the dispute.
In some circumstances, such as a dispute over noise, your best recourse may be to issue a warning notice rather than heading immediately to court.
In other situations, however, a stronger legal response may be required.
Grounds for eviction may include:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Destruction of the premises
- Safety concerns
- Illegal activity
- Refusal to vacate the premises after lease has ended
- Chronic disruptions
- Pet violation
- Health hazard
- Unauthorized occupants
If your tenant has clearly violated the terms of the lease or broken the law, you have every right to proceed with an eviction. To do so, you must follow specific steps outlined by Michigan law.
The Eviction Process
From start to finish, it can take as little as 27 days or as many as 57 days to evict a tenant.
Step 1: Send Proper Legal Notice To Your Tenant
To initiate the eviction process, you must serve your tenant with a legal notice specifying the reason/s why you are considering evicting them and a deadline for complying with the notice.
Depending on the reason for the eviction, the notice must be given 24 hours, 7 days, or 30 days before you can file suit.
If you are seeking to terminate the tenancy but would allow the tenant to stay if the dispute is resolved, you would provide a 7-day notice called a “Demand for Possession.”
This would apply to tenants who:
- have not payed rent
- created a health hazard
- damaged property
30-Day Notice To Quit
If you are seeking to terminate the tenancy without an option to stay, you would
provide a 30-day notice to vacate the premises entitled, “A Notice to Quit to Recover Possession of the Property.”
This would apply in the following situations:
- violations of lease provisions (any provisions agreed upon between you and the tenant when the lease was signed)
- forceful entry or peaceful entry with forceful stay or trespass
- ‘holding over’ after the expiration of the lease term
- ‘just cause’ for terminating tenant of mobile home park
- ‘just cause’ for terminating a tenant of government-subsidized housing
A 24-hour notice can be given when there is illegal drug activity involved and a report has been filed with the police.
Step 2: Filing A Complaint and Summons
If the tenant does not comply with the Demand for Possession or Notice to Quit by the given deadline, you can start a lawsuit by filing a Complaint and Summons at the district court where the rental property is located.
The Complaint must include:
- a description of the rental property
- reason(s) for eviction
- demand for a jury (if this is what you wish)
- proof that you have kept the rental property fit for the use intended and in reasonable repair for the duration of the lease
You can supplement the eviction action with a claim for a money judgment, provided the amount sought in the monetary claim is within the District Court’s jurisdiction.
Additional paperwork that MUST BE ATTACHED to the Complaint:
a) Copy of the Notice of Eviction; and
Attorney Piper is familiar with the various policies and procedures unique to each court in Michigan and will make sure your paperwork is properly filed and the correct procedures are followed.
After the complaint is filed, the court will then serve a Summons on the tenant requesting him/her to attend a hearing on a specific date.
Possible Defenses Of Eviction By A Tenant
There are certain situations in which a judge or jury may rule in favor of the tenant and allow them to remain in possession of the property.
Remember, it’s not just enough for a tenant to have a defense — they must be able to prove what they are alleging.
Regardless, Piper Legal will do its part to make sure you avoid being put in a position of liability. If you do find yourself defending against an accusation, we will aggressively advocate on your behalf.
A few examples of possible tenant defenses include:
Lockouts and Utility Shut-offs
Any attempt to remove a tenant by changing the locks, turning off their power, or removing their belongings is illegal and could result in a tenant filing a lawsuit.
If your tenant tried to assert their rights in some way — whether by reporting health or safety violations, filing a complaint of unlawful activity, or joining a tenants’ organization, and you retaliated against them by pursuing eviction, this could serve as grounds to deny an eviction.
Property Was In Need of Repairs
If your tenant stopped paying all or a portion of rent because the property was badly in need of repairs and you failed to provide proper maintenance of the property per obligations of the landlord outlined in the lease, the tenant could be excused from eviction.
Failure to Provide Proper Eviction Notice
A tenant must be given sufficient notice before an action has been filed with the court. Failure to do so would be considered a violation of proper eviction procedures in Michigan.
A tenant may not be evicted based upon his or her race, sex, religion, creed, national origin, family status or disability.
Step 3: Attempt To Resolve Conflict Before Going To Trial
Within 10 days of filing a Complaint and Summons, there will be a trial/hearing.
Up until trial, we can attempt to reach an agreement with your tenant try to resolve the dispute.
If compromise is reached you can:
- Sign an agreement called a “Consent Judgment,” putting an end to the case by consent and by order of the judge; OR
- Agree to a dismissal (e.g., tenant paying rent by a particular day, tenant voluntarily vacating the rental property by a particular day). Once the condition is satisfied, the judge will order the dismissal.
Step 4: Hearing
If you and your tenant cannot reach a settlement, we would proceed to court to have a judge or jury decide the outcome.
According to the Summons, your tenant must appear at the district court on the date specified. If they fail to show up, we will submit a default judgment which would grant the relief sought in the case, return possession of the rental property back to you or order the tenant to pay all sums due.
Individual landlords can represent themselves in court, but all corporations and LLC properties must be represented by an attorney. Regardless, Piper Legal always recommends hiring a professional real estate attorney to protect your interests and save you time.
We can offer the court your (or your agent’s) testimony, documents, and other evidence to prove that you are lawfully entitled to recover possession of your rental property.
At the hearing, the judge will determine your rights to possession of the premises and/or sums due under the lease and enter a judgment.
Step 5: Judgment and Writ of Restitution
If the judge rules in your favor, the tenant will have 10 days to pay the judgment amount or vacate the premises.
If the tenant fails to pay the amount due and does not otherwise obtain a stay of enforcement, you may request an order of eviction, also referred to as a “writ of restitution.”
Step 6: Eviction
Once the order for eviction has been signed by the judge, the court officer will serve the order on the tenant. If the tenant refuses to leave, the court officer will make arrangements to physically remove them from the premises.
Once the tenant has been evicted, you can change your locks and assume full control over the property once again.
Money Judgment for Damages
Your tenant can be evicted AND forced to pay damages if a money judgment was also awarded.
This only occurs if you requested that our office file for the money judgment and the court allows this supplemental complaint.
If a money judgment is awarded, you could begin the collections process which may include garnishing:
- bank accounts
- tax refunds
You may also be entitled to another remedy: executing the money judgment against the tenant’s personal property (car, jewelry, etc).
Piper Legal offers money judgment collection services, please contact us for further information.
Michigan Land Contract Attorney
Land Contracts: Are you selling property on a land contract and not getting paid? Are you considering selling or buying real estate on a land contract? We can help you understand the benefits and discover the pitfalls of land contracts. Piper Legal handles more land contract enforcement action than any firm in the State of Michigan.
Other Legal Questions: For over 50 years, attorneys in our office have addressed the legal concerns of the citizens and businesses of the State of Michigan. If we are unable to immediately assist you we will connect you with a highly competent, qualified attorney in your area who can.
Feel free to email or call us at (810) 235-2558 today!