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How to Evict a Roommate in Michigan

Your roommate situation probably started out well. You and a friend agreed to become roommates to share expenses or a house guest decided to stay longer than originally planned. After awhile, things started to go downhill and now you want your roommate out. Except he or she won't go. So now what? How do you evict a roommate in Michigan?

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Evicting a Michgian Roommate Can Be Complicated

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

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Is Your Roommate on the Lease?

If your roommate is on the lease with you, then you have no authority to kick him or her out. That authority lies directly with 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 your roommate is threatening you or is violent toward you. If this is the case, then you can get a restraining order and your roommate must leave immediately.

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

What to Do Now?

Unfortunately, if you live in Michigan, then your options are limited if your roommate is on the lease. You can try asking him or her to leave, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict. You will also most likely be responsible for paying his or her share of the rent.

If you and your roommate signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then you probably cannot evict but you can sue for damages in small claims court.

Examples include your roommate having loud parties that keep you from getting your work done if you work at home or your roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

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

You can try talking to your landlord to see if he can get your roommate to budge, 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 if you can show the landlord that your 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.

You have to be careful, though, because your roommate could claim that the dog belongs to both of you and your landlord could decide to evict you and your roommate. In Michigan, this is particularly true if your 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.

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

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For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that your roommate has a cat and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then your landlord has to give your roommate adequate time to find the cat a new home. If your 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 happy with you.

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

Things You Cannot Do with Regard to a Michigan Roommate

No matter how much you want your roommate to leave, there are things that the state of Michigan says you cannot legally do to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, you cannot threaten him or her. You cannot change the locks. You cannot take your roommate's personal property. If you do, you may be looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is Your Roommate Not on the Lease?

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

So your first option is to talk to your landlord. But be careful here. If your roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay with you without your landlord knowing, then you might be the one breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.

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If, though, you have a roommate with your 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 your landlord is probably the best route.

Explain to him or her why you want your roommate to leave. You must have a compelling reason, not just that he or she annoys you.

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For example, is he or she involved in illegal activity on the property? Or have a dog when you know a dog is not allowed (because it is in your lease)? Or threatening you? If you have a convincing reason, then your landlord might agree to evict your roommmate.

If he does, then he must give your 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, or if your roommate has threatened you or others on the property, then he must give seven days notice. In most other cases, he must give 30 days notice.

Keep in mind that your landlord may give your roommate time to remedy the situation. If your roommate does fix the problem, such as finding a new home for the dog is not supposed to have, then your roommate can stay in the home. If, however, your roommate does not remedy whatever it is that makes you want him or her out, or if your roommate ignores the Notice to Quit, then your landlord must file eviction papers in court.

If your landlord loses in court, then unfortunatley you will be stuck with your roommmate until he or she (or you) 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 an Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, you have decided that you have get your roommate out, then it is a good idea to speak with an experienced Michigan eviction lawyer before talking to your landlord. He or she can help you decide how best to approach your landlord, what to say, what grounds you can suggest for the eviction and more.

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