What to do if my landlord and I have been discussing things that need to be repaired in my residence and she has also gotten papers from the county but she will not make repairs?

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What to do if my landlord and I have been discussing things that need to be repaired in my residence and she has also gotten papers from the county but she will not make repairs?

I received a notice to quit. I have taken pictures of all the things needed to be repaired. But what else can I do? I don’t have the money to move and I don’t want to homeless because I have kids.

Asked on December 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can only be evicted 1) at the end of your lease, if it is not renewed; 2) for nonpayment; 3) other other material (important) breaches of the lease; or for certain other, fairly obvious, good causes, such as reckless or deliberately damaging the landlord's property. If there is no valid cause to evict, you cannot be evicted: the landlord cannot make you leave simply because he wants you out. One additional situation to be aware of, however--if  you are  a month-to-month tenant, the landlord may give you 30 days notice terminating your tenancy, the same way as you could move out on 30 days notice.

If there is no good cause to evict, then if the landlord takes you to court for eviction, you would seem to have a good defense to eviction. If the landlord simply tries to lock you out without going through the courts, that would be an illegal eviction and you could go to court for an order letting you back in and also seek monetary compensation for the illegal lock out.

If there is good cause to evict you that is unrelated to the repair issue, then the landlord probably could evict you--so if, for example, you were a month-to-month tenant who received his/her 30 days notice, or you have violated lease provisions regarding pets or occupants, or have been damaging hs property, the landlord can most likely remove you.

If the issue is nonpayment AND the reason you have not been paying is that the landlord has not made repairs, you *may* have a defense to eviction, but only if you can show that the issues which have not been repaired affect the rental unit's habitability: this would be things like lack of heat, mold conditions, toilets that do not work, etc. Minor problems, even many minor problems, that do not effectively render the premises uninhabitable would not let you avoid payment and you could be evicted.

If the issues do affect habitability and that's why you have not paid, when you get the court papers, be sure to go to court and bring with you the rent you have been withholding--in cases like this, the court might prevent the eviction and order the landlord to make repairs, but also require you to deposit the money you owe with the court, which money shall be released to the landlord after repairs have been made. A failure to show that you have the money to pay once the repairs are made will usually mean that the eviction may proceed.


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