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How to Evict a Roommate in Michigan

Most roommate situations start out fairly well. A couple of friends decided to become roommates to share expenses or a house guest decided to stay for a while. But them after some time, things started to go downhill and now the roommate needs to leave. Except he or she won't go. So now what? How is a roommate evicted in Michigan?


Evicting a Michgian Roommate Can Be Complicated

In Michigan, getting rid of a roommate, though, depends on a number of factors. He or she can't just be thrown out, no matter how obnoxious he or she is.


Is the Roommate on the Lease?

If the roommate is on the lease, then the only persone with the authority to evict the roommate is the landlord, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if the roommate is threatening or violent towards someone in the home. If this is the case, then the court can issue a restraining order and the roommate must leave immediately.

Keep in mind that a roommate on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as any one else on the lease.

What to Do Now?

Unfortunately for Michigan residents, the options are limited if the roommate is on the lease. Politely asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the roommate signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he or she probably can not be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples might include the roommate having loud parties that prevent work getting done at home if someone in the home works remotely or the roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is suing may anger the roommate but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the roommate to budge is an option, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent on time and their property is not being destroyed.

An exception would be the landlord seeing that the roommate is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or has a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.

This can be tricky, though, because the roommate could claim that the dog belongs to everyone in the house and the landlord could decide to evict everyone. In Michigan, this is particularly true if the lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the offending roommate. If this is the case, it will take some time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving the roommate notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.


For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the roommate has a cat and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the roommate adequate time to find the cat a new home. If the roommate does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be a happy camper.

It is possible, too, that the roommate may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the roommate to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the roommate out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the roommate can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a Michigan Roommate

No matter how annoying a roommate is, there are things that the state of Michigan says cannot be legally done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, no one can threaten him or her or change the locks so he or she cannot access the property. His or her personal property cannot be stolen. Anyone who engages in these kinds of acts could be looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is the Roommate Not on the Lease?

If the roommate is not on the lease, then the options are still limited. Generally, Michgian only allows landlords to evict tenants. If the roommate has lived in the property for some time, then he or she is considered a tenant with a month-to-month lease and the landlord must follow state eviction laws to remove him or her.

So the first option is to talk to the landlord. This can be tricky, though. If the roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then the other people in the house might be the ones breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, the roommate is in the home with the landlord's express or implicit permission - many landlords will let a girlfriend or boyfriend stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then talking to the landlord is a possible route. The reasons given to the landlord for the potential eviction should be compelling.


For example, is the roommate involved in illegal activity on the property? Or does he or she have a dog when even though a dog is not allowed (because it is in the lease)? Is the the roommate threatening? If there is a convincing reason, then the landlord might agree to evict the roommate.

If he does, then he must give the roommate written notice to leave (Notice to Quit). The length of notice depends on the violation.

For example, if he wants to evict for illegal drug activity, then he only has to give 24 hours' notice. If the violation is related to a health, building, safety or housing code issue, then the landlord must give seven days notice. In most other cases (not all), he must give 30 days notice.

Keep in mind that the landlord may give the roommate time to remedy the situation. If the roommate does fix the problem, such as finding a new home for the dog he is not supposed to have, then the roommate can stay in the home.

If, however, the roommate does not remedy whatever it is that makes the other roommates want him or her out, or if the roommate ignores the Notice to Quit, then the landlord must file eviction papers in court.

If the landlord loses in court, then unfortunately, the others in the home will be stuck with the roommate until he or she decides to move out.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a roommate in Michigan is not easy. Evicting anyone anywhere is not easy, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly endeavor.

Get Help

Ask a Michigan Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to get a roommate out, then it is a good idea to speak with an experienced Michigan eviction lawyer before talking to the landlord. He or she can help the other roommates decide how best to approach the landlord, what to say, what grounds exist for the eviction and more. One small mistake and it might not be just the obnoxious roommate looking for a new home.



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