Surviving Eviction

Your landlord has taken you to court and the judge has ordered you to move out, what do you do now? Here are some facts you should know and some things that you can do to help you through this very hard time.


YOU REALLY CAN BE EVICTED

Some people just do not believe that they really can be evicted. They think that if they are pregnant, or if it is winter, or if there are children in the family that they cannot be evicted. This is not true. If the judge says that you have to move, you have to move or you will be put out. This is true even if you do not have any place to go.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT MOVE OUT ON YOUR OWN

If you do not move out by the time the judge has set for you, your landlord can get a writ of restitution from the judge. This is a court order from the judge to a law enforcement officer (like a sheriff or bailiff) to put you out. Sometimes this officer will let you know a day or two before he comes to put you out, but he does not have to do this. When the officer comes to evict you, he will put you and your things out in the street. Do not hassle him. It is against the law to fight with or threaten the officer and it may be dangerous. Remember, he is just doing his job and his job is to put you out.

ONLY THE OFFICER CAN EVICT YOU

Your landlord cannot legally evict you by himself. The officer has to be there with the writ of restitution signed by the judge. The officer may not be in uniform, but you can ask him to show his identification. If your landlord or anyone else tries to put you out without the officer and the writ being there, call the police and talk to a lawyer.

PLAN AHEAD

Find a place to move to. You do not want to be put out in the street. So, as soon as the judge orders you to move, start looking for a place to stay. This is the most important thing you can do to get yourself ready for eviction. Ask friends and relatives for help. If you are on aid, call your caseworker. There are a number of ways that he or she might be able to help you. You may be able to get the Family Independence Agency to help you pay moving expenses or the security deposit for a new place. They may also help you find a new home or get you into a temporary place while you are looking. Sometimes other groups like the housing resource center, Red Cross, or Salvation Army know of places where you can stay in an emergency.

FIND SOMEPLACE TO STORE YOUR BELONGINGS

You do not want your things to be set out in the street where they can be damaged or stolen. If you absolutely cannot find anywhere else to keep your things you might want to use a storage company. These companies are listed in the yellow pages. But, watch out, be careful! Make sure that you know just how much storage will cost you. Ask about all the charges. Some places charge you extra for things like letting you move your things into and out of their building. Also make sure that you will have enough money to get your things back when the time comes. If you do not pay your bill, you will not get your things back and the storage company might sell them to someone else.

To learn more about housing rights in Michigan and where to get help:    

Consult the Michigantenants.org website for local housing resources and tenant counseling services. 

Consult the Michiganlegalaid.org website for legal education articles and local service information.

If you received court papers or otherwise need free or low cost legal advice:

This article appears courtesy of Legal Aid of South Central Michigan.