Michigan Land Contract Forfeiture Procedures

A land contract can result in forfeiture through the courts.
A land contract can result in forfeiture through the courts. (Image: Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Under Michigan law, a land contract is an agreement between the seller of an interest in real estate and a buyer. The agreed-upon purchase price is paid by the buyer to the seller in installments. The fact that there is no mortgage or promissory note makes a land contract different than other agreements for the sale of real estate. Under certain circumstances, the seller may regain possession by forfeiture.

Pre-suit Notice

Prior to filing a lawsuit to begin the forfeiture proceedings, Michigan law requires the seller to provide the buyer with notice that payments are behind or the land contract has been broken in some other way. The notice must provide the buyer with how the land contract was broken and at least 15 days to correct the reason for default.

Filing a Complaint

If the notice period expires before the buyer corrects the reason for default on the land contract, the seller may file a complaint to begin a lawsuit. The seller must file the lawsuit in a court with proper jurisdiction; for example, the district court in the district where the property is located or the county circuit court in the county in which the property is located. The seller will be required to pay a fee to file the suit.

Serving the Complaint

Once the seller files the suit in the appropriate court, the seller is responsible for serving the summons and complaint on the buyer. The papers must be delivered to the buyer in person. The court may, in its discretion, determine that service was proper if the summons and complaint are served on a family member or an adult at the property if the buyer is unavailable.

The Hearing

If the court determines that service was proper and allows the lawsuit to move forward, there will be a hearing where the seller and buyer can argue their case to a judge or jury. Both parties may also call witnesses and present evidence to prove their case. Once both parties have had an opportunity to argue, the judge or jury will come to a decision, and the court will issue an order. The order will allow the buyer a period of time no less than 90 days to leave the property.

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