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Courts prepare for surge in evictions

Posted at 11:06 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 23:06:05-04

(WXYZ) — Chief Judge William McConico with the 36th District Court is gearing up for a busy summer as a ban on evictions comes to an end. He appeared at monthly community meeting for Detroit District 1 on Saturday via Zoom.

"We have been planning for this,” Chief Judge McConico said of the eviction ban ending. "The staff at the court is ready, lawyers are ready.”

Pre pandemic, the 36th District Court usually heard 31,000 to 35,000 eviction cases each year, and already new cases are picking up.

"We’re not at that pace but we are anticipating there is going to be an uptick,” Chief Judge McConico said.

On top of renters struggling to pay bills, landlords are also struggling to collect without the option of an eviction.

“You have a lot of landlords who own one or two houses, they may have a mortgage on that house, they haven't gotten rent in months, they’re struggling,” McConico said.

According to Eviction Lab, Detroit ranks 10th for most evictions in the U.S. Judge McConico believes he knows one reaon why.

“The reason our rates are so out of whack is because 85% and 90% of landlord tenant defendants who come before the court are unrepresented,” he said.

This is where the pandemic may end up benefiting some renters. McConico says it’s a lot easier finding lawyers willing to represent those tenants pro bono when they can simply log on their computer and handle the case from home.

“Now when there's a case, between 90% and 95% of the people now are represented, and those who aren't represented is because they’re turning down representation,” the Chief Judge explained.

McConico says he plans to continue to allow virtual hearings even after the pandemic, and says anyone falling behind on rent should find help right away before it's too late.

“Start that process, make the call, because there is help.”

Those resources in the City of Detroit are available at detroitevictionhelp.com. You can also call the helpline at 866-313-2520.