Temporary suspension of evictions in Michigan expire tonight. What tenants need to know

Posted at 5:14 AM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 12:13:44-04

(WXYZ) — The temporary suspension of evictions in Michigan expires Wednesday at midnight, meaning thousands could now be faced with having to leave their homes if they can’t make rent.

There’s a lot to keep in mind even as the moratorium is set to expire. It’s important that tenants know their rights.

Advocacy groups will tell you that affordable housing has been a major issue in Michigan and metro Detroit long before the pandemic, adding to the stress a lot of families are facing right now, as filing have piled up over the past few months.

“You can pick your natural disaster metaphor — avalanche, tidal wave of cases," said Jim Schaafsma, Housing Attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program. "There’ll be about 75,000 eviction cases that will be coursing through the system in a short order of time.”

At midnight Wednesday, the temporary freeze on evictions expires, unless Governor Whitmer extends it again, something advocacy groups like the Michigan Poverty Law Program hope she does — as thousands are still struggling to make rent due to the pandemic.

People like Wanda Upshaw who live in New Center has experienced COVID-19 affecting her work hours.

“I was reduced to part-time, which… I fell behind in my rent," said Upshaw.

She got help with rental assistance and is now making payments. She's also worried about what could happen next if there’s no extension given the thousands of backlogged filings.

“The next day people could be put out of their homes and then where are they going to go?" said Upshaw.

There’s safety nets in place at both the federal and state level, some new as a response to the pandemic. But Housing Attorney Jim Schaafsma says for communities not familiar with these resources, they may not take advantage of them right away.

"It’s going to take time for these programs to take root and for them to begin to successfully operate," said Schaafsma.

So with less than 24 hours until the freeze expires — what do tenants need to know?

First, check your mail.

“Tenants must get served with eviction notices first and then with evictions complaints," said Schaafsma.

Second, show up to court.

Though likely held virtually, those who skip are risking a default judgment that could lead to an eviction order.

Gov. Whitmer is set to hold a press conference Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Below are just some of the resources available to renters who are facing or are concerned about eviction:

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.