55th Judicial District Court

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LANDLORD/TENANT OVERVIEW

The purpose of this page is to acquaint the landlord and the tenant with basic terms and the forms used.  Several specific statutes exist that govern this area, along with applicable court rules.  Before you take any actions as a landlord to serve a notice to quit or file action to terminate tenancy; or as a tenant, withhold rent because of needed repairs; or take any other action - it is strongly urged that you consult with an attorney.  

As a LANDLORD, you have several specific responsibilities and duties under the law.  In particular, the area of security deposits is tightly governed by the Security Deposit Act.  There can be harsh penalties for failure to strictly comply with this and other statutes.  If you have a tenant who is not paying rent, creating a health hazard or just refusing to leave at the conclusion of the term and you want them out - you must first complete and serve upon the tenant a NOTICE TO QUIT.  There are several different forms, depending on the reason for the notice.  Once the time period has passed as specified by the particular notice you use and the tenant has not vacated the property, you file with the court a SUMMONS (notice you are being sued) and a COMPLAINT (a set of specific allegations as to why they should be removed.)  Attachments to the complaint are the lease agreement and a copy of the notice to quit and proof of service for that notice to quit.   The tenant needs to be served with copies of each of these documents.  Your attorney can advise you as to the time periods to wait before filing the legal action and how the tenant needs to be served with these documents. 

A hearing is held before a District Judge.  This type of hearing is called a SUMMARY PROCEEDING.  At the hearing, you - the landlord, have the burden of proving to the judge that the allegations in your complaint are true.  Therefore, you need to bring everything with you, the lease - payment ledger and all other documents relating to this rental unit.  If you prevail, the judge will issue a JUDGMENT or order.  You should have prepared in advance the proposed JUDGMENT form - leaving blank the dollar amounts and dates for the judge to fill in and then sign.  Your attorney will help you in the preparation of these documents.  The judge will give the tenant a period of time to either cure the problems (i.e. pay the rent or clean up the health hazard) or vacate the rental unit.   If the tenant does neither, you can petition the judge for a WRIT, which is an order to the sheriff department to go to the rental unit and physically remove the tenant and the tenants property, restoring to the landlord his property.  Until this order is served by the sheriff, the tenant still has rights as to that rental property.   Consult with your attorney to ensure you are completely aware of what you may and may not do.

As a TENANT, you have obligations to pay your rent and maintain the property.  The opposite side of that coin is the expectation of certain things from your landlord and the unit you live in.  If you feel you are not receiving what the lease calls for, or that repairs are not being made to the rental unit that are the obligation of your landlord, you should consult with your attorney about  the possibility of withholding some or all of your rent, or in extreme cases, your ability to move out of the rental unit prior to the expiration of the lease and/or applicable notice requirements.  You should never take either of these actions without consulting your attorney.  

FILING PROCEDURES FOR LANDLORD/TENANT POSSESSION CASES

Per Michigan Court Rule 4.201(C)(1) and Michigan Complied Laws §600.5735(1), there is a new procedure for filing Landlord/Tenant - Possession cases.

    1.  You will be given a court date at the time of filing.

    2.  The Summons and Complaint will be served on the Defendant(s) by a process server.

    3.  The process server shall serve the Defendant(s) as soon as possible and file the Proof of Service with the court within 48 hours of service.  

    4.   If the Defendant(s) was personally served, the Plaintiff may file for a money judgment 21 days after the date of service (form MC07a Sum Certain).

    5.  If the Plaintiff requested a money judgment in the Complaint, but the Defendant(s) were not personally served, the Plaintiff will need to file additional Summons and Complaint to seek those money damages.  The Court will forward this additional summons/complaint to a process server, who has 91 days from the filing date to personally serve Defendant(s).  Normal court rules will apply to this proceeding. 

LAND CONTRACT FORFEITURE

This involves the selling of real estate, where the seller (vendor) holds the contract and the purchaser (vendee) pays the seller directly, until the contract is paid.  Once the contract is paid, the seller conveys a deed to the purchaser.  Before entering into this type of agreement, both the seller and purchaser need to consult their attorney, to understand the benefits and pitfalls of such a transaction.  A real estate agent is not in any position to do this and in fact, it is not legal for a real estate agent to discuss this with the seller or the purchaser. 

Should the purchaser default (not make the required payments), the seller may file a SUMMARY PROCEEDING to regain possession of the property and declare the land contract forfeit.  The seller first of all serves upon the purchaser a FORFEITURE NOTICE.  Your attorney can help you complete this form, verify the accuracy of the legal description (never use a tax statement to obtain a real estate legal description) and to also verify you have properly calculated each payment for interest and principal allocation.

Once the time period for the notice has expired and if the purchaser has not paid the amounts due (cured the default), the seller may file a SUMMONS and COMPLAINT of land contract forfeiture.  There is a preprinted form available from the civil clerk of the court for the Summons, however, there is not a preprinted form for the complaint.  Your attorney is the best person to draw up this important document.

A hearing is held before a District Judge.  If you prevail, the judge will issue a JUDGMENT or order.  You should have prepared in advance the proposed JUDGMENT form - leaving blank the dollar amounts and dates for the judge to fill in and then sign.  Your attorney will help you in the preparation of these documents.  The judge will give the purchaser a period of time to pay the arrearage and bring the contract up to date, or vacate the property.  If the purchaser does neither, you can petition the judge for a WRIT, which is an order to the sheriff department to go to the property and physically remove the purchaser, restoring to the seller possession of the property.  Until this order is served by the sheriff, the purchaser still has rights as to that property.   Consult with your attorney to ensure you are completely aware of what you may and may not do.

WHERE TO I GET THE FORMS?

The forms you need for either landlord/tenant or land contract forfeiture are available from our clerks office for a nominal fee.  You may also obtain the forms online from the State Court Administrative Office website: