COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Michigan Legal HelpMich. Governor orderMich. Supreme Court orderMich. utility protectionsPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerMich. Governor Order, May 2020Mich. Governor Order, June 2020
- Are there special eviction protections for Michigan renters during the COVID-19 emergency?
Michigan Governor Whitmer issued an eviction moratorium that prevents landlords from evicting renters if they cannot pay their rent during the emergency, except for when there is a health hazard or the tenant poses a risk to another person or the property. It puts a hold on all court eviction cases during the emergency. This order went into effect on March 20, 2020. The moratorium has been extended to end on July 15, 2020. When the moratorium ends on 7/16, the Eviction Diversion Program launches, awarding payments to landlords who agree not to evict tenants for housing debt accrued during COVID-19. Landlords must agree to waive late fees, and forgive up to 10% of the amount due. Households up to 100% of the state's median income are eligible for the program.
The Michigan Supreme Court has put new requirements on landlords who are suing renters for eviction due to nonpayment of rent. Landlords will have to prove that the renter's home is exempt from emergency eviction protections. This order went into effect on April 16, 2020. It is scheduled to be effective until at least July 25, 2020.
- What do the eviction protections mean for Michigan renters?
The protections means that through July 15, 2020 in Michigan, in most cases:
- Your landlord cannot give you a notice to quit.
- Your landlord cannot file an eviction complaint in court against you.
- Hearings on eviction are still happening, and the court may still hear an existing eviction case against you.
- The court will not issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- An existing eviction order may not be enforced against you.
These protections may not apply if there is a health hazard involved.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes, Michigan renters still need to pay rent during the emergency. If you are unable to pay, you may be protected from being removed from your home during the state of emergency, through July 15, 2020. But after the emergency ends, renters will have to pay back rent or face possible eviction.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here with drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. Also check here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19 impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during COVID-19?
Michigan renters cannot be evicted from their homes during the emergency period, and landlords cannot file new eviction cases for nonpayment of rent.
Under Governor Whitmer’s eviction moratorium order, renters cannot be evicted from their homes for not paying their rent through July 15, 2020. During this period, landlords can still ask for rent, but they cannot give a notice to quit or file an eviction lawsuit in court based on nonpayment of rent.
Courts have put all current eviction cases on hold during the emergency period.
Law enforcement cannot remove people from their homes, even if there is an existing eviction order against them, during the emergency period.
Renters who pose substantial risk to another person, or an imminent and severe risk to the property may be removed from their home.
Once the emergency period ends, however, law enforcement can begin to enforce eviction orders once again, and can remove renters from their homes. Landlords can sue for eviction, though they will have additional requirements to prove that the renter's home is not covered by federal eviction protections.
- You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during COVID-19?
Some Michigan renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.
Your water cannot be shut off for nonpayment, for as long as Michigan's state of emergency lasts.
For other utilities besides water, check this site to see if your utility company has stopped shutoffs for customers, or if it has special programs to assist people who can't afford their utility bills.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.