On January 7, 2021, in Vasiliadis v Rubaii, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued January 7, 2021 (Docket No. 349982) the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the principles of equity can be used to extend the redemption period for a defaulting land contract vendee (Defendant), when the land contract vendor (Plaintiff) acts in bad faith to prevent the vendee from redeeming the property. Land Contract vendees and vendors should be aware that courts are empowered to extend the statutory redemption period in some cases, using principles of equity.
In Michigan, an individual may gain ownership of real property even if that person does not have a deed or hold legal title to the property. The concept is called adverse possession and most often, but not always, occurs due to a boundary dispute between two neighbors. Adverse possession can also occur by a trespasser to land that occupies the land for fifteen (15) years. To establish adverse possession, an individual must demonstrate possession of the real property for a period of fifteen (15) years and that the possession has been actual, visible, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous, hostile and under a cover or claim of right. This article explores the law that governs adverse possession and the elements necessary to establish adverse possession in Michigan.Read more
Many people are familiar with libel and slander, which are two causes of action meant to allow individuals to protect their reputation. All owners of real property should also know that there is a comparable type of claim that one can bring to protect a person’s interest in the ability to sell his or her real property. That claim is called slander of title.
Appeals Court Affirms Lower Court Finding That City’s Zoning Ordinance Permitting a Home Business Does Not Include the Business of Providing Short-Term Rental Accommodations
In People of the City of St. Clair Shores v Dorr, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued October 29, 2020 (Docket No 349910), the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled—in a highly fractured opinion—that “a person of ordinary intelligence would reasonably understand from [a zoning ordinance that requires a home business be ‘incidental’ to the use of the dwelling as a dwelling] that the business therefore cannot be coextensive with the primary use of the dwelling as a dwelling.” As such, the Court of Appeals held that the City’s zoning ordinance prohibited him from using his home for short-term rentals through Airbnb.Read more
In Michigan, residential evictions are normally handled at the local District Court pursuant to Michigan’s Summary Proceedings to Recover Possession of Premises, MCL 600.5701, et seq. However, on September 1, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) issued an order (the “Order“) temporarily halting some, but not all, residential evictions throughout the country, including Michigan, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The Order is presently in effect through December 31, 2020, but may be extended or modified in the future. The CDC’s Order upended the normal residential eviction process and thrown interpretation of the Order to the Michigan Supreme Court Administrator’s Office (“SCAO”) and the local District Courts throughout the State of Michigan.Read more
Most people who own real estate obtain their water for the property from the local municipality. While the timing of billing and costs for water charges vary among municipalities, all municipalities are given the right under Michigan law to collect delinquent water charges through imposing a lien against the property. Specifically, MCL 123.162 provides:
MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT RULES THAT SURPLUS PROCEEDS FROM THE TAX-FORECLOSURE SALE OF A PROPERTY MUST BE RETURNED TO FORMER PROPERTY OWNERS
On July 17, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an unanimous decision, finding that the retention of surplus proceeds from a tax-foreclosure sale under the General Property Tax Act (“GPTA”) is an unconstitutional taking without just compensation under Article 10, § 2 of Michigan’s Constitution of 1963. Before the decision by the Court, Michigan was among a minority of states who permitted the retention of surplus proceeds from tax-foreclosure sales. Accordingly, property owners that have lost their property as a result of a tax foreclosure sale now have a claim against the county for the difference between the amount of taxes owed and the amount realized at the tax sale by the County.
The Coronavirus and the State of Emergency
On March 10, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in the State of Michigan. On March 16, 2020 Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-9 which closed restaurants, bars, cigar lounges, movie theaters, casinos, libraries, and gyms from the public. On March 23, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-21 which imposed a temporary stay-at-home order for non-essential matters, which was later extended and expanded through Executive Orders 2020-42, 2020-59, 2020-70, 2020-77, and 2020-92, and is currently in effect for the majority of the State through at least May 28, 2020.
In Michigan, as in most states, the state authority has significantly limited access to public places, stores, restaurants, movie theaters, offices, and other businesses through the issuance of executive orders prohibiting such access. For businesses whose viability depends on the public’s ability to access that business’ physical location, the issuance of such orders has resulted in a loss of use of the property and a severe interruption in business. For some, their insurance policies may appear to insure against loss of use of the insured property when a civil authority prohibits the insured from using the insured property, such as through issuance of an executive prohibiting such access, or there is damage to the property resulting in its loss of use. While it may seem as though the business climate created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is unique to our generation, this is not the first time a Governor’s executive order has impacted businesses in Michigan and there are several cases from the Michigan Court of Appeals which can provide guidance.
The novel coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) has impacted nearly every aspect of life, including residential housing. People living in communal living spaces and apartment buildings need to take particular care to prevent and address community spread. Landlords and tenants alike may be affected by economic uncertainty and strain due to the pandemic. In is therefore crucial that landlords and tenants prepare to respond to the unique issues raised by the spread of COVID-19. This article will highlight some of those concerns and give insight into how landlords and tenants may tackle them.Read more