DETROIT – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is protecting nearly 80 tenants, many of them elderly, after their apartment building’s management company threatened to illegally evict those who were behind in rent payments during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Attorney General’s Office today sent a cease and desist letter to the company overseeing operations of the Jeffersonian Apartments, at 9000 East Jefferson Avenue, after receiving reports that the company violated Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-19. That order prohibits any person or entity from removing a tenant from a leased home except when the person poses a substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to the property.
“People cannot be evicted from their homes during this public emergency except under extreme circumstances as outlined in the governor’s executive orders,” Nessel said. “The fact that a landlord would threaten to kick out tenants – especially senior citizens – during this situation shows not only a disregard for the laws governing this state during the COVID-19 crisis, but a lack of compassion for our fellow Michiganders. We must remain committed to working together through this pandemic, and that starts by having empathy and respect for our neighbors.”
The Jeffersonian’s management company hand-delivered Demand for Possession notices to tenants for non-payment of rent. The letters told the tenants to pay the rent owed or vacate the premises within seven days of receiving the notice.
While the executive order preserves a landlord’s right to receive rental payments due under a residential lease, the section cannot be read in a manner that goes against the order’s intent – keeping people in their homes during Michigan’s state of emergency.
“In other words, any demand for rent cannot also include demand for possession,” the attorney general’s cease and desist letter reads.
Willful violations of the governor’s executive order can result in a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each offense, as well as licensing penalties for businesses and other entities. Violations should be reported to law enforcement agencies overseeing the jurisdiction in which the alleged offense occurred.
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