The Paletz Law Blog

Best Practices To Manage Landlord-Tenant Cases in the Aftermath of COVID – Part Two

March 29th, 2023 | By: Sarah L. Reed, Esq.

In our blog last month, we discussed the legal administrative process related to typical rental properties in Michigan. In this second installment, we continue that discussion with even more types of legal actions and procedures.

30-Day Notice – Terminations for Cause:

Certain types of rental housing require cause to terminate the tenancy. These include government subsidized housing and tenant-owned manufactured housing. Also, while a lease is active, in order to terminate it before the end of its term, cause is typically required.

Where the tenant has violated the Lease or Rules & Regulations, it is absolutely imperative that meticulous recordkeeping is maintained. Judges are very hesitant to remove tenants from their homes in general, but even more so during these post-Covid times. Questionably bad behavior, which may be a substantial annoyance to other residents and to staff, may simply not cut it when it comes to termination of tenancy. So, the more detailed your records are, the better. Likewise, issuing timely rule violations, and subsequently acting on them, is also key.

Some best practices for property management and staff to document and retain any and all complaints and violations are:

  • Take photos (if able)
  • Attach those to a written violation notice
  • Make sure the “issue” itself is clearly delineated (i.e. “red Taurus parked improperly on grass on March 1, 2023”)
  • Advise of the time to cure (i.e. “remove vehicle from grass on or before March 8, 2023”)
  • Post a copy to the tenant’s door
  • Keep a copy in the file with the date and time of posting
  • If the time to cure comes and goes and the problem is not remedied, take another (dated) picture as proof for the court that the problem was not cured in the appropriate timeframe.

Additional Recommended Property Management Procedures:

Property Managers should make sure their internal recordkeeping systems are updated at least monthly and reviewed for possible errors. It is also a good idea to establish or maintain a filing system to keep track of documents, violations, registered pets, notices, sources of employment, registered vehicles, etc. Whatever legal form is used (see my colleague Rachel Dornbush’s prior blog for further reference  – Breaking Up – It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard To Do (If You Use The Right Notice) – Paletz LawPaletz Law), always double-check the addresses and the spelling of tenants’ names. Moreover, be certain that all leaseholders are listed (and always include the generic phrase “all other occupants”). Plus, keep track of what was sent, to whom, on what date, and by what method.

Also, in MI on the forms there is a section titled Certificate of Service and this should not be filled out until it is actually mailed out. The most effective way to serve the Notice or Demand is to send it first-class mail or via e-mail (if the tenant has previously consented in writing). If you would like to consider other options, you should consult with your attorney to ensure they are done properly.

The Bottom Line: When “cause” is required to end a tenancy, properly documenting the lease and/or rule violations not only ensures your tenant is aware that their behavior is unacceptable, but it also provides your attorney the tools to establish the legal threshold once the matter is brought to court. Also, creating general procedures to track violations and pending legal matters can help manage the administrative burden associated with pursuing your legal remedies.

The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.

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