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Courts Brace for Impact as Eviction Moratorium Scheduled to Lift June 30, 2020

To assist tenants who may have experienced a loss of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Whitmer ordered a moratorium on all tenant evictions, which is set to expire on June 30, 2020. On June 9, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order giving courtrooms across the state a way to handle the expected rush of eviction cases that will be filed after the moratorium is lifted.

AO 2020 17 requires courts to schedule hearings for cases based on the priority level of each case. Depending on where a case falls within the priority schedule established by the MSC, it may take cases significantly longer than normal to get to a final eviction hearing. Landlords should be diligent in drafting their pleadings correctly to reduce delays and should also adjust expectations with the priority schedule in mind. The following is the priority schedule established by the MSC:

First priority: Complaints alleging illegal drug activity or tenants causing extensive and continuing physical injury to the premises. Second priority: Complaints alleging nonpayment of rent for 120 days or more.
Third priority: Complaints alleging nonpayment of rent for 90 to 119 days.
Fourth priority: Complaints alleging nonpayment of rent for 60 to 89 days.
Fifth priority: Complaints alleging nonpayment of rent for 30 to 59 days.
Subsequent priority: Additional Complaints  will be scheduled once all cases in higher priority classifications have been scheduled.

Courtrooms will be required to follow social distancing policies. Accordingly, AO 2020-17 changes certain protocols for all Michigan’s eviction matters (including commercial), even though the moratorium only applies to residential leases. For example, hearings may be held either in person or remotely. For hearings to be held in person, courts will schedule individual hearing times for each case instead of establishing a general hearing time for all eviction matters. This is intended to limit the number of individuals congregating in courtrooms and waiting areas.

Please note that a moratorium remains in effect for certain evictions in federally-assisted housing projects put in place under the March 27, 2020 CARES Act. The moratorium on evictions from covered properties will end on July 24, 2020.

Please contact Dingeman & Dancer, PLC with any questions or for more information regarding this or any other Administrative Order.