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©2018 by Law Office of Matt Devitt

Livonia, Plymouth and Northville's local attorney, focusing on pragmatic value based solutions for your estate planning, small business, and real-estate legal needs. Give Matt a call (734) 335-0713 for a free consult. Our goal is to build long term relationships by earning your trust with every matter that we handle.

Disclaimer - The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Livonia, Northville, and Plymouth’s Tenant Rights Attorney

Residential Tenant Rights

Matt Devitt Law, PLC is proud to support tenant rights.  Matt is able to interpret the many complex Tenant Laws for the state of Michigan and to help resolve landlord-tenant disputes well before the eviction process begins.   Matt believes that eviction proceedings should be the last resort, not the first, and looks forward to being a part of the solution.    

Matt believe in value based flat fee pricing and can resolve the majority of issues for less than $500.  Avoid the stress and anxiety that often come with legal challenges involving landlords, tenants, contractors by having the right attorney by your side.  Common services include lease review and negation, security deposit disputes, early termination agreements, pre-eviction support (consent judgment negotiations, answering the complaint, and trial strategy), and landlord/tenant rights.

Lease Review and Negotiation

There is a common misconception that residential leases are not up for negotiation.  While more regulated than commercial leases, they are still contractual in nature and can and should be negotiated.  Also, the use of archaic language and lack of organization can lead to tenants and landlords signing documents that neither party fully understands. 

To be a valid lease, the contract must include the names of the parties, an adequate description of the leased premises, the length of the lease term, and the amount of the rent.  There are several other clauses that can be landlord or tenant friendly depending on the language.  Further, many leases have been in circulation for several years and have not kept up with Michigan law changes. 

The time to review and understand a lease is before you sign.  Ben Franklin’s quote “a pound of prevention equals a pound of cure” is never more accurate then when signing a long-term lease.

What to do When Things Start to Go Wrong

While most landlord-tenant relationships proceed without issue, there are challenges that arise like 1) a claim of retaliatory eviction, 2) full payment of rent due, and 3) landlord breach of the warranty of habitability and duty to repair.  Hiring an experienced attorney early on will ensure that the proper steps, per the lease agreement are taken, rights are preserved, and steps taken to prevent eviction. 

Before stopping rent payment as a tenant or taking any other actions that could put you in default of the lease, it is important to know the proper steps to take and understand the risks and rewards of taking such action(s). 

Further, before abandoning a premise/lease it is important to understand the liabilities, as well as, the pros and cons of negotiating a lease termination agreement.  Leases are contracts and without following the terms of the lease such as providing a forwarding address you could find that a default money judgement was awarded against you which gives the landlord the ability to start collection proceedings.

Finally, it is important to always keep a record of any discussions that you have had with the landlord.  This includes getting any agreements or accommodations in writing.  Memories often fade, but written evidence does not.  

Notice of Eviction - Now What?

A properly executed notice of eviction is the start of the lawsuit for eviction process.  Generally, there will be 7 to 30-day notice depending on the alleged reason for eviction.  It is important to note that the eviction notice is not the same as an order of eviction and only allows a landlord to file a lawsuit and a tenant is not required to move when the eviction notice expires as you may have valid defenses. 

The notice of eviction is a great time to involve an attorney to work out an agreement or understanding prior to the action being taken to court.  If an agreement cannot be worked out the next step usually involves court action in the form of a lawsuit (known as a summary proceeding).    

Tenants can expect to receive a Summons and Complaint.  The Summons will detail where and when the tenant will need to appear.  The Complaint will outline why the landlord seeks to regain possession of the rental property.  While an attorney in not required to answer a complaint in Michigan it is certainly advisable to meet with a tenant rights attorney.  Also, regardless if you hire an attorney it is very important to appear for your hearing and answer the complaint. 

If the landlord wins the lawsuit for eviction, it is important to keep in mind that the judge or jury may also award the landlord a money judgement for such items as unpaid rent, utilities and damages to the rental property. 

Fixed Fee Value Based Pricing and Limited Scope Representation

Matt Devitt Law, PLC is proud to offer fixed value based pricing, as well as, limited scope representation to assist tenants with every step starting from the notice of eviction to the summary proceeding.   

Fixed Fee Value Pricing: - is done before the work begins so that you know how much you can expect to pay ahead of time. 

Limited Scope Representation: - Let’s be honest: lawyers can be expensive. But in its quest to ensure that everyone has access to justice at an affordable cost, the Michigan Supreme Court recently approved limited scope representation.

What’s limited scope representation? It’s when you hire an attorney to represent you only for a limited purpose. Maybe you only need assistance in drafting an answer?

 

Matt Devitt Law, PLC provides limited scope representation to its clients who do not want or need an attorney to represent them in all aspects of a case which generally helps to lower the cost as compared to full representation in a landlord/tenant matter.

Lease agreements are contracts enforceable by law.  The eviction process can be stressful and expensive if not handled properly.  Both parties have rights and obligations under the lease and it is important for tenants to make sure they understand their rights and make sure that they are not being pushed around by a landlord who understands the system better than they do.  Matt is proud to help tenants stand up for their rights and looks forward to hearing from you.