Michigan’s courts will likely face a surge in eviction cases if a moratorium is lifted at the end of the month. The state Supreme Court is planning ways to help avert people being removed from their homes for failure to pay rent.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer first signed the order in mid-March to avoid people being turned out of their homes for non-payment during the COVID-19 crisis. Before then, courts processed about 17,000 eviction cases every month.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack says many evictions weren’t necessary even before the crisis.
“The thing about landlord-tenant cases is they are some of the rare cases where there are win-win solutions," says McCormack. “In way, they all want the same thing. Landlords want the rent paid, and tenants want to pay the rent because they want to stay in the apartment.”
The plans include connecting renters with legal assistance or help to catch up on missed payments. Back-rent cases will also be lower priority than those that allege illegal activity or property damage.
McCormack says the end of the moratorium should not mean a return to old ways of handling non-payment cases.
She says it’s in everyone’s interest to resolve back rent issues.
“So landlords don’t have to start over trying to find a new tenant, which might be difficult in these times. And tenants don’t have to start over trying to find a place to live. It makes sense for us to figure out how to solve those problems.”
McCormack says some local courts have already tried programs that could be expanded statewide. Those include connecting people with legal help and resources to help catch up on missed rent payments.
The latest eviction moratorium extension expires June 30th.