The eviction moratorium was set to lift June 30 and has now been extended to July 15 by Governor Whitmer. Here’s what that means – temporary suspension of evictions has been extended. Governor Whitmer has also created the Eviction Diversion Program, which outlines a process for renters to get fast rental assistance or establish a payment plan. Rental assistance under the program will be available beginning July 16.
United Way of Washtenaw County spoke with Letitia Lee, Managing Attorney at Legal Service of South Central Michigan, a United Way partner agency, about what renters should know concerning wevictions and how to obtain resources to help.
Q: What Is An ‘Eviction Moratorium’ And How Long Will It Last?
An eviction moratorium is a prohibition, or ban, on removing renters from their homes, usually because they can't pay rent. In Michigan, because of the widespread economic disruption caused by the virus, and because increasing the number of people made homeless would threaten the public health and harm vulnerable people, Governor Whitmer has declared it illegal to evict tenants from their homes. This protection has been extended through June 30, 2020. There is also a federal law, the CARES Act, that prevents landlords of certain properties ("federally backed" or subsidized) from filing nonpayment eviction cases against their tenants. In these properties, landlords must wait until after July 25 to file a 30-day notice, and then can't file their eviction cases in court until after the 30 days are over.
Q: What About People Living In Hotels? Are They Protected?
Unfortunately, people living in hotels are not protected by the moratorium. The laws do protect people renting mobile home lots, and people buying under a land contract.
Q: If Tenants Fall Behind On Rent During The Moratorium, How Soon Do They Have To Pay Back-Rent?
After the moratorium ends, landlords will have to pursue evictions in court. The amount of time a tenant has to pay depends on how soon the court can schedule and hear the case, and what sort of agreement is reached with the landlord.
Q: At What Point Should A Tenant Talk To Their Landlord If They’re Worried About Falling Behind?
Tenants worried about falling behind in rent should talk to their landlord as soon as possible. They may be able to work out a payment arrangement. Tenants could also ask for a rent reduction in exchange for paying the rent sooner rather than later. Any agreement should be in writing.
Q: Are Landlords Allowed To Ask Their Tenants If They Have Covid-19 Symptoms?
A landlord can ask, but tenants do not have to answer. If a landlord discriminates against a tenant because of the tenant's COVID-19 status, this could be a violation of fair housing laws, and the tenant should contact the local fair housing center.
Q: What Resources Are Available For Tenants Who Are Worried About Being Evicted?
The website michiganlegalhelp.org provides information and resources on a wide variety of legal topics, including COVID-related information. For information specific to Washtenaw County, visit lsscm.org and click on "COVID-19 Information for Clients." The Washtenaw page has information about agencies that may be able to provide financial assistance to renters.