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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
For more information email: tflynn@clarkstonlegal.com

Friday, June 5, 2015

Electronic Notification of Eviction Becomes Law

Sometimes you just have to achieve personal service of an individual in order to commence a lawsuit. Under the applicable court rules in Michigan, you need to obtain personal service or get a court order allowing an alternative method after demonstrating your failed but reasonable efforts to locate and serve a named defendant.

Landlords are often frustrated in this process. So much so that the Michigan legislature just passed legislation signed into law by the Governor late last month allowing for service of process in landlord tenant cases via electronic means such as email.

The new law, Public Act 36, provides for the electronic transmission of eviction papers via email, provided the tenant consents and supplies the landlord with an email address.  The law utilizes the phrase, "electronic service address" and also requires an electronic acknowledgment of the tenant's consent evidenced by one completed communication in which both landlord and tenant participate.

As much as we love to report on the ever-expanding intersection between technology and the law [check out this post from 2012], this public act raises some concerns for us over here at the Law Blogger. The State Bar of Michigan also voiced its concern in opposing this law when it was in bill form, stating some very good reasons for not adopting electronic service.

Our concerns are based on a litigant's access to justice, particularly in the landlord/tenant context where a person's residence is at stake. In our opinion, the law does not properly account for the following commonplace glitches that will end-up frustrating the eviction process and consuming even more judicial resources:

  • Email is not sufficiently reliable to transmit such important documentation that affects the tenant's life;
  • Without reliable means to transmit commencement of eviction proceedings, tenants could be deprived of valid defenses;
  • Spam filters routinely block once-valid email transmissions;
  • Tenants frequently change email addresses; and
  • Internet access is unreliable for many tenants, especially lower income tenants.

Good old-fashioned personal service -where the process server strides up to the person, identifies them by their name, and hands them a stack of legal papers- is optimal when a person stands to lose their residence in the proceedings. In our opinion, personal service remains the absolute best way to get this done.

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3 Comments:

Blogger max den said...

Amazing post.

June 19, 2015 at 3:48 PM 
Blogger Leslie Lim said...


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Rica
www.imarksweb.org

July 4, 2015 at 1:30 AM 
Blogger Black Down said...

The law utilizes the phrase, "electronic service address" and also requires an electronic acknowledgment of the tenant's consent evidenced by one completed communication in which both landlord and tenant participate.Our concerns are based on a litigant's access to justice, particularly in the landlord/tenant context where a person's residence is at stake. In our opinion, the law does not properly account for the following commonplace glitches that will end-up frustrating the eviction process and consuming even more judicial resources:house flipper

October 4, 2015 at 3:05 AM 

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