What Are Squatters Rights In Michigan

2014 was a big year regarding squatter's rights in Michigan. Three new laws were passed that took effect in September 2014 that directly addressed trespassing and squatting. Here is a review of what has changed and what has stayed the same.

1. Landlords are able to secure their properties with force.

The law has been amended in Michigan so that a landlord is permitted to use force, but not bodily assault, as well as other forms of self-help to recover possession of their premises. This applies when the person who came into possession of the property was trespassing. Landlords can change locks, remove personal property of the squatters, but not touch the squatters themselves. It is no longer necessary in Michigan to file for an eviction action. The exception to this rule is if the people who are squatting on the property are previous tenants who had a valid lease that expired.

2. Squatting in a duplex or single family house is considered a crime.

Michigan passed a new criminal law in 2014 that makes squatting a criminal act. For first offense squatters, there is a maximum 180 day stay in jail and a $5,000 fine. For second and subsequent offenses, it can be a $10,000 fine and 2 years in prison. The first offense is a misdemeanor, while all others are considered felonies. Adverse possession laws remain in place, but now property owners or landlords do not have to file charges for trespassing to have law enforcement officials arrest squatters.

3. The third law passed defines the felony portion of illegal squatting.

The goal is to allow new property owners of foreclosures or abandoned properties to take over without having to go through the entire eviction process. Although the laws have been toughened against squatters, it is not expected that the courts will see more convictions and imprisonment of those who are arrested for this new crime. Most people are squatting because they are forced to do so. Instead of tossing people in jail, the goal will be to provide resources to individuals and families who need help so they can get back on their feet. If a family can't pay rent, then a family won't be able to pay a fine. The laws in Michigan have become more common sense for property owners, however, and that's a good thing when it comes to protecting their rights.

Posted on Mar 02, 2015


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