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Whitmer extends eviction suspensions through June 11

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended a statewide suspension on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, her office announced Thursday night.

Under the executive order, which had been set to expire Friday and now is in force through June 11, tenants and mobile home owners can remain in their residences even if they are unable to pay their rent.

It relieves courts from some statutory restrictions so they can stay eviction-related proceedings until after the coronavirus outbreak has passed, the governor's office said in a statement.

“It’s critical Michiganders can self-quarantine and continue staying safer at home without fear of being evicted,” Whitmer said. “This Executive Order gives renters and mobile home owners some peace of mind as we continue to flatten the curve.” 

People drive their vehicles around Cadillac Place as part of a caravan protest organized by Detroit Eviction Defense in Detroit on May 13, 2020. The group calls for extending the eviction ban until at least 60 days have passed after the end of the current state of emergency.

The governor suspended evictions on March 20 then extended the order in April, saying keeping residents at home helped them focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Her announcement came a day after Detroit Eviction Defense, a housing justice group, protested, calling for an extension as well as expanded protections such as suspending rent payments. The demonstrators warned "massive amounts of people are losing their jobs and income" through the pandemic and "at a rate of speed not seen since the Great Depression."

Whitmer's latest order said it cannot "be construed to abrogate the obligation to pay or right to receive payment due under a lease or executory contract, nor to prohibit a landlord or vendor from making a demand for payment." However, those requests "must not include a demand for possession or notice of forfeiture of executory contract, or other threat of eviction or forfeiture, based on the nonpayment of rent or executory contract obligation."

The order also says tenants and mobile home owners can't be removed unless they "pose a substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to property."

Detroit's 36th District Court has extended an eviction freeze during the state stay-at-home order, which expires May 28. 

The federal CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, halts evictions for properties with federally backed mortgages for 120 days. The Urban Institute estimates that's about 28% of the nation's 43.8 million rental units.

The act also allows owners of multi-family properties with federally backed mortgages to apply for loan forbearance. 

The Wayne County Treasurer's Office has said it will not foreclose on any properties for unpaid taxes this year. Oakland County has said no owners affected by the coronavirus outbreak will lose their properties.