With an increasing number of legal proceedings now taking place online — such as the recent serving of divorce papers through Facebook — it was only a matter of time until the trend extended to tenant law. Under a new Michigan law, landlords can serve Michigan eviction notices electronically, provided that a tenant has provided prior consent. Understanding the law and its restrictions will be key for landlords hoping to make use of it.
Electronic transmission of “demand for possession”
In May, Michigan’s governor signed House Bill 4038, which allows landlords to deliver notices of eviction to tenants through “electronic service.” Lexology notes that before passage of the new law, eviction notices — also known as “demand for possession” – had to be served in person, either in writing at the residence or via first-class mail.
The new law, which amends Section 5718 of the Michigan Summary Proceedings Act, requires that before eviction notices can be served electronically, tenants must have previously provided written consent. Either confirmation of the consent or the consent itself must be sent electronically, and a reply must be sent by the other party confirming receipt.
What landlords need to know
In light of the new law, landlords in Michigan should attempt to obtain the required consent at the time of signing of lease agreements. The law goes into effect on Aug. 19, 2015 and landlords can begin requesting consent after that time. Landlords cannot refuse to execute a lease because a prospective tenant won’t sign the electronic-service consent.
What if email addresses change?
Considering that significant time can pass between the signing of a lease and an eviction proceeding, it’s highly possible that email addresses may change. The new law provides that the address used during the process of consenting to the electronic service agreement stands as the official email address, and the assumption is that it continues to be a valid address. The email address can be changed by repeating the consent process — with the consent form sent and replied to electronically.
What’s next for electronic transmission?
While most jurisdictions currently don’t allow electronic service of eviction notices, that may change quickly. Despite concerns about the unreliability of email as a legal notification method, proponents argue that email may be the only way to reach tenants who move prior to an eviction notice. Landlords should consult with a knowledgeable attorney in their state to stay abreast of any updates to the law. For more information about Michigan criminal background checks, please visit InstantCriminalChecks.com.