Posted by Brent_IL on September 12, 2003 at 02:08:09:
I don?t know anything about Michigan law, but I suggest that you hire an attorney that specializes in forcible detainer actions immediately. Maybe an apartment owner?s organization could give you a referral.
Your goal is to get the non-paying tenant out and a paying tenant in.
The goal of your tenant is to stay there without paying rent for as long as possible. Without a job, she can?t pay rent if she wanted to, and she doesn?t.
Are all of the kids on the lease?
You cleaned things up so the place is habitable now. She has a possible counter-claim. What if she makes a claim that her health and the health of her children were adversely affected by your negligent actions, and she files for damages under the law? Being unemployed with 3 or 4 children she will very likely file a claim for food stamps and/or Public Aid benefits. It is here that she will be exposed to the free legal resources that are available to those who are impoverished and fighting against the evil tyranny of greedy landlords. If she gets a good attorney, I can see this escalating into an action that will take a year or more to resolve. In then end, you might get a judgment, i.e., a worthless piece of paper that is not collectable against one who doesn?t have a job or assets.
IMO, you have the right idea to buy her out, but you have to consider her viewpoint. Without a job, $200 will last three nights in a motel. Then what?
At a minimum, you need to help her get a job or into subsidized housing. You might have to pay the security deposit and first months rent at the new place and for movers. This may sound harsh and it is decidedly unfair, but just last week, Ben (NJ), who is a lawyer, mentioned a case he reviewed where the tenant was living rent-free for a decade. Your state may be very pro-landlord and she may be out in two months, but I would advise you not to count on it and to look for an eviction lawyer tomorrow.
This is one of those things that you can’t really believe can happen until you have seen it happen. I have an acquaintance that’s tied up in court who is into her sixth year of a tenant’s non-payment of rent that?s due. The health department recently cited her for not making adequate repairs to the property.
I hope this situation turns out better for you than her’s did for her.
I don’t mean to over dramatize this, but remember that your tenant has a reason to justify her acts. She doesn’t need a good reason, any reason can be a cause of action.