Apartment complex: Eviction notices did not circumvent order

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (WILX)
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DETROIT, MI (AP) - The owners of a Detroit apartment complex insisted Friday that they were not trying to circumvent a state order preventing evictions during the coronavirus pandemic when they sent seven-day notices to nearly 80 tenants who are behind on their rent.

The Jeffersonian sent the eviction notices to protect the owners’ rights and to “fulfill fiduciary responsibilities” to lenders, said Arie Leibovitz, a principal in ownership of the complex just northeast of downtown.

“We have to make an effort to collect the rent,” Leibovitz said. “We are not the only landlord that has done it.”

No one has actually been evicted, Leibovitz said.

The Michigan Attorney General’s office said Thursday that the Jeffersonian’s threat to evict the tenants was illegal under an executive order that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued in March.

That order shut down a number of businesses and services to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and it halted evictions in rental properties in anticipation of economic hardship during the public health emergency.

The order prohibits removal of a tenant from a leased home except when the person poses a substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to the property, according to the attorney general’s office.

The closure of businesses has led to mass unemployment across the nation. More than 1 million people have filed initial unemployment claims in Michigan alone in the past month.

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