Updated: What Tenants Need to Know About the Ban on Residential Evictions

By Katherine M. Stanley posted 05-15-2020 11:27

  

On May 14, 2020, Governor Whitmer Issued Mich Exec Order No 2020-85, which extended the moratorium on residential evictions through June 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and rescinded Mich Exec Order No 2020-54. Like the previous order, Mich Exec Order No 2020-85 bans residential evictions in Michigan except where a tenant poses a “substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to property.” 

In summary, Mich Exec Order No 2020-85 provides that, until the expiration of the order, any demand for payment of rent “must not include a demand for possession or notice of forfeiture of executory contract, or other threat of eviction or forfeiture, based on the nonpayment of rent or executory contract obligation” or the demand may risk violating the order.  

Mich Exec Order No 2020-85 does not “abrogate the obligation to pay or right to receive payment due under a lease or executory contract, nor to prohibit a landlord or vendor from making a demand for payment.” This means that after the emergency ends, landlords can either start or continue eviction cases and tenants will still owe their landlord any rent that accumulates during this time. Mich Exec Order No 2020-85 may be extended, so landlords and tenants should continue to check for updated information.

The Michigan Supreme Court has issued Administrative Order No. 2020-3, amended May 1, 2020, extending the computation of time as it relates to the commencement and reply in civil actions. This means that “any day that falls during the [Governor’s COVID-19 related] state of emergency…is not included for purposes of MCR 1.108(1)” which governs the computation of time during which action in court proceedings must occur.  

In the context of landlord tenant summary proceedings cases, while a notice to quit may be issued, the 30-day clock will not start running until after the expiration of the Governor’s state of emergency unless it is extended in some form or the Supreme Court retracts the AO.  The Supreme Court has an additional Order providing that summary proceedings for nonpayment of rent filed before July 25, 2020 must include a SCAO-approved certification form “indicating whether the property is exempt from the moratorium provided for under the CARES Act.”

The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) published a helpful memorandum clarifying the Supreme Court’s AO regarding summary proceedings during the COVID-19 related state of emergency.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides additional unique protections to tenants that live in “covered dwellings.” Covered dwellings are properties with federally backed mortgage loans, federally backed multifamily mortgage loans, or those that participate in federally assisted rental housing programs.

This means that until after July 25, 2020, new eviction filings and late fees in covered dwellings are banned by the CARES Act.

If there has been a reduction in the tenant’s income, under most subsidized housing programs, tenants may also report the change in writing and request a reduction in rent. The stimulus check should not be included as income for the purposes of recalculating rent by a landlord or voucher administrator. After July 25, 2020, if there are no new updates or extensions, covered landlords may then begin serving new 30-day notices.

While tenants may not have a duty to inform their landlords if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, they may want to notify them to protect others from exposure. Landlords cannot identify the tenant to others as having tested positive, but it will allow them to take preventative measures. A landlord cannot evict a tenant based on their diagnoses. COVID-19 can arguably be considered a disability and any retaliation or harassment from a landlord arising out of disability status would likely be a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

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