Tenant Abusing Covid Eviction Moratorium

I have a tenant in one of my Michigan parks who has not paid a dime since February. He won’t answer the door or return phone calls. Due to Governor Witmer’s generosity, the eviction moratorium lasted over 4 months and was just lifted on the 16th. I have issued a 7 day notice to the tenant and after no response, forwarded it to my attorney. Assuming the courts can get a handle on the 90,000+ back cases, it might be another 2-3 months before we get a day in court. In the meanwhile, this tenant gets to live rent and utility free (in Michigan, you can’t turn off utilities to deadbeats).

Any creative - and legal - options to get this deadbeat out of my house?

I’d recommend doing what I’m doing: sit on your hands, be patient, and be grateful that so many of your residents did pay.

If it’s any consolation, for Michigan a case with that severe of a delinquency will get priority scheduling.

I’m in the same boat with a few cases.

If you submeter utilities you can investigate turning them off in accordance with your state procedures.

I too have a few tenants in one of my parks in Michigan doing same thing by living rent free. However one of them is spending his stimulus money - he got a new truck and parking on the grass to boot.

If it is a park owned home, as painful as it is, cash for keys might be one option. Tell them they can avoid an eviction on their record if they take a couple hundred bucks and leave. I don’t worry about my TOH because they have to catch up on all back rent before they can sell and they generally don’t have the 5k plus to move.


In Michigan the law is very specific. No utilities can be turned off by landlord, even when the utilities are in the landlords name and included as part of the rent.

Most tenants fail to appear in court for an eviction, and simply disappear into the countryside. I don’t think they care if they have an eviction on their record.

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If you cannot reach them in any way, rent paid, knock on door, phone, etc. One thought is to call the police to do a “wellness check” on the tenant. perhaps the person is in need of help, etc. ( wink wink) at least this way you might get them to answer the door or motivate them to at least talk with you or to serve them legal docs. This is better than doing nothing. You may be able to move the needle a little.

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Good point, however “hope springs eternal in the human breast”. I’m always optimistic till proven otherwise.

I’m in Indiana and we have the same thing except we can go after rule/lease violations. I believe the eviction moratorium is for rent only! If they are violating any rules send them notices and then send a 30 day. On a side note, make sure you have pictures and/or lots of documentation to back your case to prove that it isn’t for the rent.

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Yes, I’ve already given several tenants 30 day notices. Enforcing it legally is another matter. These tenants will likely stay in the units beyond the 30 days until I can get a court order (which could be months away). Unfortunately, these few clever tenants know that I can’t just throw them out on the street on day 31. Thanks again to Gov Witmer for creating this mess for landlords.

I took over a park in January and was preparing to evict three tenants in March that had not paid one dime since we took over. Then the moratorium came and they ahven’t paid anything, returned phone calls or anything. Took one to court for eviction on dog issue when one of her dogs attacked a child (luckily no major wounds) BUT the magistrate sided with her as long as she “keeps her dogs on a leash” and said we can’t evict her unless the dog attacks someone else. WTF!?! . Now two months later still no rent, refuses to cut her grass and has trash all over her yard. When the manager spoke to her she said “go ahead and waste your money tring to evict me”> Now her two neighbors aren’t paying rent either but they are on social security which means no lost income from this farce of a pandemic. We think she told them to not to pay rent because she wasn’t evicted. Starting to look like a cancer and I don’t see what the government was thinking to give these freeloaders an opportunity like that. They are diggin a hole so deep that they will never get out. Our Governor in Pennsylvania just extended it until August 30th now. What the hell is he thinking?

Given the current backlog of eviction cases in Michigan, I am looking at months before an eviction hearing for several of my deadbeat tenants. I’m considering taking these tenants to small claims court instead and at least getting their attention. Thoughts?

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If they’re truly deadbeats and not working with you at all… then I like it.

A preemptive notice to those tenants might be sufficient, so they under stand you’re both going to feel pain instead of one way only. While you may not collect anything, you can always sell those judgements - and those collections agencies can be pretty annoying.

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My thoughts.

  1. You most likely have a Governor’s proclamation affecting eviction procedures. That should answer all of your procedural questions.

  2. Can’t you handle one delinquent tenant during a pandemic? Even assuming evicting during a pandemic is a good idea, you will probably be better off with honey instead of a stick, because there are 10,000 apartment and site built housing landlords who are in line to evict as well because they have no security in the form of the customer’s home to rely on in the future.

Todd Foster

As an update, we have successfully scheduled 2 court dates so far in two parks I own in MI. I have also completed applications to enter into arbitration hearings in order to work out financial arrangements with tenants. No $ yet but hope to see forward movement soon.

Yes I can handle one delinquent tenant. However, this has spread to 11 others who know I am powerless to evict or turn off utilities. As far as offering “honey”, what do you give a tenant who is 5 months behind, has adequate income, and is willing to ride this out as long as possible since he has no where else to go?

As an example, we offered all of our customers $75 off of their $368 rent if it is paid on time and they have a zero balance. Not sure how long this will keep the rents coming in now that the federal subsidy for unemployment is gone, but we have seen no decline in collections across our communities. It sends a message and I believe puts us near the top of the list of people to be paid since we are probably the only vendor in their lives that acknowledges what is going on.


It might not be legal to turn off utilities but it sure would be a shame if the water line busted :wink: and you didn’t have money to fix it.

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Would be even funnier when the judge ordered it fixed and the owner wound up with a repair bill from the Court’s choice of repair company.

Well, I have to tell you a story how a home owner I know had his tenant kicked out of the home he was renting.

He couldn’t kick him out for not paying rent in this madness, BUT he was able to kick him out for “breach of contract” because the guy living in his house did some repairs without his permission.

Just a thought.

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