NOTICE TO QUIT
WHAT IS A NOTICE TO QUIT?
A notice to quit is a paper your landlord gives you when he wants you to move out. The notice tells you the date when your landlord wants you out and sometimes it tells you why your landlord wants you out and what you can do to stay in.
NOTICE TO QUIT: TERMINATION OF TENANCY
If you have received a notice to quit- termination of tenancy, you generally have a rental period (monthly if you pay monthly, every two weeks if you pay every two weeks, etc., unless you have a lease that says differently) to move out without court action.
YOUR LANDLORD CANNOT FORCE YOU OUT WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. If your landlord tries to kick you out or shut off utilities call an attorney immediately.
You may be responsible for court costs if your landlord has to take you to court. Those generally range from about $50.00 to about $150.00 depending on what the court actually charges the landlord to file. There are not very many defenses to this kind of action unless you are in public housing or a mobile home park (they have to have good cause—for example, being late in rent three times in a year’s time). If you are not in a trailer park or public housing, your landlord does not have to have any reason at all to evict you. There are a few exceptions to this (for example, if your landlord files to evict you right after you asked the inspector to come in). You may want to contact an attorney to see if there may be a defense in your case.
If you choose to move, make sure that you let your landlord know when you are moving and send him/her a written mailing address within four days after you move. Make sure you keep a copy. This will help to avoid the landlord going in to court and claiming he didn’t know you had moved. This also will help protect your security deposit as well as give the landlord an address to send any other legal papers to. You will want to know if your landlord wants to try to go to court to sue you for damages or back rent.
NOTICE TO QUIT: NON-PAYMENT OF RENT
If you have received a notice to quit – non-payment of rent, you have seven days to either pay the amount your landlord says you owe, or to move if you wish to avoid a court action.
If you choose to move, follow the advice in the above section for moving.
If you wish to stay, get ready for court. If you want an attorney, you will need to contact one right away because there is usually only a very short time to get ready for court. If you have not been able to talk to a lawyer before the court, tell the Judge that you want the case postponed for a week so that you can talk with an attorney. The Judge is required to do that if you ask.
If you want to go to court without an attorney, prepare for court. Preparing for court means finding all receipts for rent, maybe taking photographs to show what kind of shape the apartment or house is in, finding any inspection reports, and gathering any other information that will help you prove the facts of the case to the judge.
YOUR LANDLORD CAN’T EVICT YOU WITHOUT A COURT ORDER. If your landlord tries to kick you out or shut off utilities call an attorney immediately.
If you choose to go to court, even if you don’t have an attorney, make sure you are there. Do not trust your landlord to “handle it for you.” Your landlord does not have the same issues as you do. You need to be there even if your landlord is right to make sure that you know exactly what you need to pay and do in order to stay as quickly as possible. There is also the possibility that what you think your landlord will do in court may be different than what the landlord actually does.
Even if you are evicted, the court will probably give you ten days to pay a certain amount of money or leave. If the judgment includes a “money judgment” (if the box towards the bottom of the judgment says you owe money), you will owe this money even after you move. If that box is empty, you only need to move; you will owe no money to the landlord unless he takes you to small claims court. You will need to pay the amount for possession at the right side of the form in order to stay. Pay only if you have the whole amount unless the landlord dates and signs an agreement giving you more time. File a copy of the receipt and/or the agreement with the court immediately. Make sure you keep the originals. Unless you pay or get a written agreement, if you do not move in 10 days, the landlord can get a “writ” from the court and can have the sheriff remove you and your things from the premises.
NOTICE TO QUIT FOR HEALTH HAZARD/INJURY TO PREMISES
If you are damaging the premises or causing a health problem, your landlord can give you this notice. This notice must give you 7 days from the day you get it to fix the health problem, stop the damage, or move out. If you do not have a full seven days, the notice is no good.
DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE HEARING? WHAT IF I MISS THE HEARING?
Remember that you can always try to fight an eviction if you think your landlord has done something wrong. But you will have to go to court to tell your side of the story when the landlord has the eviction hearing.
If you do not show up the Judge will usually sign a Judgment against you for the amount your Landlord wanted plus Court costs.
If you do not go to court because you did not know about the hearing, you will need to contact a lawyer.
WHAT IF I WIN?
If you win and did not file a counter-complaint, the case is dismissed and you generally may stay in your house or apartment and you owe the Landlord nothing. If you filed a counter-complaint and win on that, the Landlord may owe you money.
WHAT IF THERE IS A MONEY JUDGMENT AND I CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY THE JUDGMENT ALL AT ONCE?
If you do not want your wages or bank accounts garnished, you may file a motion for installment payments. (See our pamphlet Motion for Installment Payments). If you are on Public Assistance, Unemployment or Social Security and have no other source of income, the Plaintiff will probably not be able to garnish your money. The Plaintiff generally cannot garnish welfare checks. The Plaintiff cannot garnish Social Security checks. But Judgments are good for 10 years, so if you ever do go back to work, the Plaintiff can try to force you to pay then. If the Plaintiff tries to garnish a bank account and the only money in the account is from welfare, unemployment, or Social Security, you should file written objections to the garnishment with the Court within 21 days of receiving the motion for garnishment. Be sure to go to the hearing with proof that your only income is from those sources.
LEGAL AID OF WESTERN MICHIGAN
This brochure is intended only to provide general information. If you have more complicated questions or need more specific advice, please consult a lawyer.