Michigan Renters, Advocates and Courts Brace for Estimated 80,000 Eviction Cases

July 16, 2020

The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could dramatically raise the number of eviction cases filed in Michigan this year, and the courts, the governor's office, local advocacy groups, landlords, and tenants are scrambling to prepare. 

"We're expecting there to be at least 80,000 backlogged eviction cases when this is over," said Kyle Lawrey, a housing attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Michigan who's expecting his phone to be "ringing off the hook" after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's moratorium on evictions expires Thursday, July 15.

"As low-income workers lose their jobs and fall behind on rent, we anticipate an increase in eviction case filings statewide, which will stress the resources of already burdened courts and legal and social service agencies and impose great hardship on tenants," said Robert Goodspeed, a UM researcher and assistant professor of urban and regional planning. 

Month-to-month leases allow landlords or tenants to end their residency with 30 days' notice. During the moratorium, the courts were not proceeding with evicting people, but there was nothing stopping landlords from sending tenants notice to leave.

Legal experts and researchers believe the expected flood of eviction cases has been dammed by federal and state moratoriums, the $600 federal unemployment insurance bonuses, and the $1,200 federal stimulus checks -- all programs that have expired or are set to expire at the end of the month.

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