State to replace eviction moratorium with financial assistance program
Executive Order 2020-134 extends protection against eviction through July 15, establishes ‘Eviction Diversion Program’ to help tenants, landlords
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
An executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, following a bill passed by the state’s legislature, is attempting to offer more relief for Michigan renters from eviction while making assistance available to help landlords maintain their businesses.
A series of executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic has been offering protection against eviction for tenants.
“Due to the protection that a residential home provides from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to contain self-quarantined and self-isolated individuals within a residential home, no person shall remove or exclude from leased residential premises or residential premises held under a forfeited executory contract a tenant, a vendee of a forfeited executory contract, or a person holding under a tenant or vendee, except when the tenant, vendee, or person holding under them poses a substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to property,” according to the latest version of the order, Executive Order 2020-118.
Executive Order 2020-118 was slated to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30; however, Executive Order 2020-134 – signed by Governor Whitmer on Friday, June 26 – extended the duration of the order through July 15.
“Effective July 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., Executive Order 2020-118 is rescinded,” according to Executive Order 2020-134.
“Executive Order 2020-118 and its predecessors, which temporarily prohibited removal or exclusion of a tenant or mobile home owner from their residential premises, were issued because removing or excluding people from their residences was likely to exacerbate the public health threat of COVID-19. Although COVID-19 remains a deadly pandemic, conditions in Michigan are improving. As a result, it is now reasonable and necessary to replace the eviction moratorium with a special judicial process for addressing COVID-19-related debts. This process will keep people in their homes, while facilitating prompt payment to landlords,” according to Executive Order 2020-134.
“To facilitate this transition, this order temporarily extends, and then rescinds, the eviction moratorium. Beginning July 16, 2020, Michigan landlords and lenders are strongly encouraged to take advantage of COVID-19 housing debt remedies, rather than pursuing eviction or foreclosure,” according to Executive Order 2020-134.
According to Whitmer’s office, the new order creates the “Eviction Diversion Program,” which offers “rental assistance in the form of lump sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes.”
“Tenants whose back rent is not completely covered by the Eviction Diversion Program will be entered into manageable payment plans,” according to a press release from Whitmer’s office. “The program was created following the passage of Senate Bill 690, which passed unanimously out of both the Michigan House and Senate on June 17. The legislation appropriated $60 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding to the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity for the creation of a rental assistance program to assist tenants and landlords after the eviction moratorium concludes.”
“No Michigander should have to worry about losing their home during a global health pandemic and, at the same time, landlords and management companies need rent from their tenants to sustain their businesses. This program will save lives, save money, and save businesses by keeping families in their homes and providing immediate financial relief to landlords for back rent they’re due,” Governor Whitmer said.
According to Executive Order 2020-134, the “rental assistance” money “is available only for COVID-19 housing debt.”
“In order to receive a lump sum rental assistance payment, plaintiff must waive any late fees or penalties, and must forgive one-ninth of one dollar of the remaining amount due for every dollar received as a lump sum payment,” according to Executive Order 2020-134.
The order offers provisions for renters to pay amounts still owed “in 12 equal monthly payments.”
Rental assistance provided through Coronavirus Relief Funding and Eviction Diversion Program “will be based on tenant income and household size,” according to Executive Order 2020-134. Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will provide “program guidance to implement this section.”