Southeast Michigan tenant 2 months past due (advice please)

9 Replies

I'm facing a situation where a tenant has not paid rent and is now past due 2 months. I'm wondering how I should proceed... this is the first issue that I've had with a tenant (we only have 3 properties).

Here are the highlights:
- The tenant is on a month to month lease
- She's not paid rent for August or September ($1245 total past due including late fees)
- We've had the property going on three months, she's a carry over tenant and has had a poor track record thus far (but in Michigan we are legally obligated to continue the previous owners lease as it follows the property - not the owner).
- I've talked with her and she's been between "I don't care about the past due rent" and "I'll give you every paycheck to get caught up"
- I've filled out form dc100a (demand for possession - 7 day notice) and plan to mail that to the tenant tomorrow

IF this is not resolved in the next 2 weeks I'm considering going to court (I plan to use an attorney for that process)!

I understand every case is unique, I'm just looking for a run down on what others would do in this situation... the tenant is between jobs, very few resources, I'm not sure she could get caught up in a reasonable amount of time and I'd (generally speaking) like her out of the property.

My options as I see them:
- file the dc100a with the court and work through the process with an attorney
- don't renew her lease and wait another 30 days before (most likely) going to court to have her removed
- try to work with her in which case it's a terribly tense situation where neither of us would be comfortable

Thanks in advance,
Mitch

In the past, I have given the tenant the benefit of a doubt and allowed them some time to get current. I generally do not allow it to go past two to three weeks, but again, I am willing to work with them if they communicate and it's cordial. That being said, you're past that point. 

Remember - sending the letter, filing, even getting a judgment doesn't obligate you to evict the tenant, and they can get current at any time by paying what they owe. Keep VERY good track of EVERY expense - postage, envelopes, mileage to and from post office and court, etc. I can send you a tracking spreadsheet I developed to help me make sure I am keeping all costs in front of me. 

For the notice, make a copy of the form you send, take it to the post office, and get a Certificate of Mailing. It costs $1.35 or something and shows you mailed the letter. Sign the second page and keep the receipts, etc. send a 7 day notice for late rent, 30 day notice for lease issues. 

I just talked to the local court here, the 34th District Court in Romulus. (You should call your court as the practices are sometimes different.) They said the notice is considered delivered the day it is mailed, but you have to give at least 8 FULL days before filing for a judgment. So, if you mail tomorrow (the 11th), you could file for judgment on the 19th. (7 days to the 18th, plus one day to allow for 7 FULL days.) Typically the court allows some set amount of time to notify the tenant. In Romulus, it's two weeks minimum and Landlord Tenant cases are on Thursday. So, if you file on Thursday, the court date is typically in two weeks. If you file on Friday, it's two weeks and six days. You'll need envelopes, stamps, and multiple copies of the lease to attach to the complaint, and you'll probably want to pay the court officer to serve the papers. (I've been told you cannot do it yourself.) Get the forms at the court - they usually cost a dollar or two but they will be correct and have copies attached. Then you wait until the court date. 

Go to the court on the date. If the tenant doesn't show up, you basically fill out the paperwork and get a default judgment. If they do show up, you can try to work something out with them or go in and see the judge. IMPORTANT - if your rental is in an LLC, you cannot talk to the judge yourself, and you must have an attorney. I think it has to do with the LLC being its own entity and you not able to represent the entity (unless you're a lawyer). I've gone four times and never had the tenant show up, so I've never had to go before the judge.

You can do all of this stuff yourself. I have used an attorney so I could see the process one time, and then I just used the forms filed as a template and did it myself. Lawyers in my area generally handle evictions, beginning to end, for about $250 plus filing fees, assuming it doesn't get complicated. That decision is yours. 

Once you have a judgment, you have to wait 10 days that the tenant gets to pay the rent. They have to pay you everything due, not just part of the rent, but if you accept partial payment it could reset some things. (There are check boxes for this on the forms.) After the 10 days, you can file for eviction. I have never gotten to this point - the tenant has always paid or moved out by this point. Can't give you any advice on going forward. 

Obviously, I'm not a lawyer, but this is the general process. Like I said, if you have the time, can get to court, etc., you can probably do it yourself. Google "eviction michigan" and there are lots of references. If you don't want to do it yourself or can't there are plenty of lawyers around, and their advice would obviously be more valuable than mine. I'd suggest getting a lawyer close to the court that you use as it minimizes travel time and costs that the lawyer might charge you. Hopefully the tenant leaves without you having to go to actually hauling out their stuff. 

If I missed something here or you have a question let me know and I can try to answer it. 

This tenant will NEVER catch up at this point!  Get them out ASAP!!   (There isn't any other good option).

I agree. Get the tenant out! Start fresh with a new screened tenant by you and not the previous owner. She will most likely never pay you a dime. Keep the security deposit obviously if there is one.....

Time to start eviction process..... Well it was time about two months ago. I had a similar situation on one of my units. Inherited a tenant and right away they were late or paid partial payments. Let it go for about 6 months and then decided it was enough. Lost about 2 months in rent by the time the tenant was given 10 days by the judge. Had the place rented 11 days after they moved out which included painting the whole unit and refinishing floors. Also raised rent. Now I send notice to quit immediately. I had to do this once for another unit and the women was shocked that I arrived on the 2nd of the month with a NTC. After that she has paid on time ever month. Hoping a tenant pays is not how this business is supposed to work. When you get stuck with a bad tenant its best to legally get them to leave and move on. Good luck!
Also you will likely never see the judgement money. And you don't need an attorney for this if you want to save some money. This is straight forward.

Wow!  Thank you all for your advice and in depth explanations; it was what I had in mind but we've only been managing properties for a year (we've been owners with a management company for 6 years). I really appreciate it!  

I'll pursue the 7 day, inform the tenant of her need to move and look forward to getting a more stable tenant into the property.

I issue a 7-day notice the first day they are late (on the second of the month, via mail), unless I have agreed to allow them to pay a day or two late.

Time to serve the notice and file for eviction. The most leniency I give before a notice is posted is a week. If they haven't paid anything towards rent by then, I file the pay or quit and proceed with eviction.

You can't let it go 2 months, by the time you get them out, they will owe you 3.5 months of rent + any damage they do(which the risk gets elevated during an eviction)