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Q: "Self-help" eviction by landlord in Michigan - Police not cooperating ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: "Self-help" eviction by landlord in Michigan - Police not cooperating
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: mdarling-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 22 Jun 2006 16:49 PDT
Expires: 22 Jul 2006 16:49 PDT
Question ID: 740343
I am the owner of a company that leased a space that is undergoing an
eviction process.  Everything is within Michigan -- I live in
Michigan, the company is in Michigan, the leased space is in Michigan,
and the landlord's offices are in Michigan.

My company has experienced several cases of fraud, which has sent my
company into insolvency.

My company is severely past due on rent for its leased premises. 
About two months ago, my landlord mailed me a notice to quit.  On June
5, 2006, they filed a Landlord-Tenant summons and mailed it to my
place of work (the leased space.)

Until this point, I've always handled all legal matters myself by
doing research on the Internet.  I have recently been working with a
bankruptcy lawyer.  No bankruptcy is yet filed.  He's helping me
through this process, and I'll certainly be paying him something, but
he's been overly kind enough not to be billing for all the
consultations and phone calls so far.

On June 21, 2006, the local district court entered a default judgement
that the landlord has a right to posession of the premises, and stated
in it:

* "An order evicting you will be issued unless you pay the plantiff or
court the amount due or unless you move out on or before July 3,
* "No money judgement is entered at this time" --- because they did
not successfully serve the summons on me, the mail did not count (not
certified, etc).

I went to the leased space today to begin packing, to make sure I had
all of my belongings out before the July 3 date, so the landlord would
be able to again have posession of the leased premises.  I noticed
* Everything had been looked through.
   * Computer part inventory was opened out of boxes.
   * Financial documents were opened and looked through including
invoices and check books.
   * The cash lockbox was in a different room, opened.  Luckily only
change was in there, and still is.
* Several things are missing
   * My company's computer that I used with financial records and
accounting records is MISSING.
   * My company's two 19inch LCD panels that I used are MISSING.
   * My company's three 21inch LCD panels that were inventory are MISSING.
   * My company's digital camera is MISSING.
   * My personal $250 Black & Decker toolkit (wrenchs, sockets,
hammers, etc) is MISSING.

I view what happened, under Michigan law, as criminal tresspass and
theft.  I believe this is the case under Michigan law, because: (a) my
landlord DOES NOT YET HAVE A WRIT OF EVICTION; (b) my landlord does
not have a court judgement for any money; and, (c) my landlord does
not have a writ of execution of property.

I immediately left the leased premises, and contacted my attorney.  He
views the situation the same as me, a criminal tresspass and theft,
and said that I should go ahead with my desire to contact the police

I contacted the police department, and they sent an officer out to the
leased premises.  The officer took a statement and wrote up a case,
however he said he saw the issue as a gray area and he thought it was
more a civil matter than a criminal matter.  I then spoke with a clerk
at the local district court, who said that since they do not have a
writ of eviction, that they cannot enter my leased space and that
doing so was criminal tresspass.  The clerk also said that taking my
property was criminal theft.  She suggested that I file an emergency
motion to stay the eviction process, which I am in the process of
doing.  The clerk also suggested that I talk with the police sargent
on duty.  I did talk with the police sargent on duty, and he said that
he was going to refer the case to the detectives and prosecutors -
since he could see why the original officer thought it might be just a
civil matter.  He told me that I wouldn't hear anything back until
Monday at the earliest from the detectives or prosecutors.

In the meantime they have posession of my computer that I need for my
financial records and accounting records.  I'm worried about the
safety of my records.  I'm worried they may destroy the data, either
intentionally or unintentionally just to wipe the computer clean so
they can use it..

SO, given all that background, I'll get to my question.  :)

I can find a lot of references that what my landlord did is considered
"self-help" eviction and is a criminal act.  I'd like to know what
part of Michigan law pertains to this issue, so I can hopefully show
it to the police.  I would like for the police to realize this is a
criminal act, and do something before monday.  I don't see why this
doesn't rise to probable cause for a search warrent of the landlord's
offices to see if my property is there.

I just want to know where I can look at the actual Michigan laws that
pertain to what's happened - not more sites that just say that it was
Subject: Re: "Self-help" eviction by landlord in Michigan - Police not cooperating
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 22 Jun 2006 19:47 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I believe this is the pertinent section of Michigan law:
600.2918 Damages for forcible entry and detainer; damages for unlawful
interference with possessory interest; action for possession; claim
for injunctive relief; joinder; waiver; limitations.

Note that you would be entited to recover damages under certain
circumstances, and are eligible for triple damages if you are
improperly prevented from making use of the premises.

I trust this was the section of law you were most interested in.  

However, if I've misunderstood your situation -- or if there's
additional information you need -- don't hesitate to let me know.

Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.

Best of luck,


search strategy -- Google search on [ michigan law ]

Request for Answer Clarification by mdarling-ga on 22 Jun 2006 21:07 PDT
Thanks for your quick response.  That link certainly helps, it
describes civil damages that I can seek for what happened.

I don't see anything criminal in that link.  Is my attorney, the
district court clerk, and many websites wrong?  Did they do nothing

Again thanks for the information.

Request for Answer Clarification by mdarling-ga on 22 Jun 2006 21:30 PDT
Obviously nothing to do with you, but I'm frustrated if the only
remedy I have is $200 in damages per occurance.  When my company owes
them $28,000, and they know there is no money to collect, if this is
the only remedy I have it seems like they would have no reason not to
take everything the could.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 23 Jun 2006 06:54 PDT

You're right...I didn't mention criminal aspects of the law, and my
apologies for the omission.

From what I can see, Michigan law doesn't explicitly address the issue
of theft of property by a landlord from a leaseholder in a situation
such as you describe.

On the one hand, theft is theft.  It certainly seems to me that the
police should move forward on your complaint if you insist on pressing
charges for stolen property.  Unfortunately, the actual law on theft
in Michigan is scattered about in many areas of law, and it is
impossible to provide a single link or excerpt that you could show to
the police regarding this matter.  Your lawyer would seem the best
source of advice on this matter.

On the other hand, there does come a point during an eviction in which
the landlord is entitled to enter a premises and remove property. 
Where, exactly, in the process this right arises -- and what happens
if it's exercised prematurely -- are cloudy matters of law.

I checked some landord-tenant cases law in Michigan.  From what I can
see, the courts are certainly willing to step in to protect personal
and commercial property.  But they also seem to restrict matters to
civil disputes, and have been reluctant to treat them as criminal

There's no single case that serves as good precedent on this...just a
collection of cases that touch on property issues during eviction

As for the $200 damages set by the law, note that the amount is not
meant as a maximum you can potentiallyu collect.

You can collect damages up to the value of the property lost, if the
landlord is found to have acted illegally.  And there is also the
triple damages provision for being unduly barred from your use of the
property -- again, if the landlord is found to have acted illegally.

If your key concern is regaining access to your property for business
purposes, then you might want to contact the landlord directly, let
them know that you are aware of the missing property, and request its
prompt return.  You might also mention the matter of damages, if that
seems appropriate.  They may just return the property, and if so, at
least one aspect of your difficult situation is resolved.

Best of luck...

mdarling-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks a lot for your research.  All of the information you provided
helped a great deal.  Thanks for the follow-up answer as well!

Subject: Re: "Self-help" eviction by landlord in Michigan - Police not cooperating
From: mikeysco-ga on 27 Jun 2006 22:52 PDT
Wait a minute...I've read your entire post, and the one thing I never
saw was how you know your landlord, and not just some burglar, entered
the premises and took anything from you.

The closest you came was this:

"In the meantime they have posession of my computer that I need for my
financial records and accounting records. "

But how do you *know* "they" have this property?

Without some sort of reasonable evidence to indicate your landlord
entered the premises and stole your property, it's no wonder to me
that the police didn't get overly excited about this.

Do you have more to support what looks like your claim that your
landlord stole property from you, and perhaps omitted it from your

I think we can all agree that your landlord is suspect #1, but what we
all agree on is not what the law requires for a search warrant

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