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Detroit City Council discussing measures to stop illegal evictions

Some Detroit city council members say landlords are getting away with evicting tenants illegally.

After weeks of complaints from evicted tenants, Detroit City Council has begun discussing ways to stop illegal evictions in the city.

Certificates of compliance are required to legally rent out a property and evict tenants in Detroit.

But in the past two years, almost 90% of eviction cases filed in Detroit were from landlords who did not have a certificate, according to a recent reportfrom the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy.

Detroit Council Member Angela Whitfield Calloway said she wants a moratorium on illegal evictions or funding to enforce the certificate requirement. Several other councilmembers agreed that the issue is about enforcing Detroit's current rental ordinance rather than making a new one.

"I went down to the 36th District Court and it’s packed with people being evicted, illegally, with the assistance of our police department. Something has to be done," Whitfield Calloway said during Detroit's Tuesday City Council meeting.

"We are allowing our ordinances and laws to be broken. We’re complicit — not we, I, feel complicit. I can’t sit here another day, hearing these women, and these individuals come before this body, come before me, and we not take any action. What’s happening is illegal."

Whitfield Calloway said she wants to "put these landlords on notice ... that this city will not tolerate them violating this ordinance."

Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield said that tenants can withhold rent if their home is not up to code.

Detroit has passed a Right to Counsel Ordinance that will guarantee representation to low-income tenants facing eviction.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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