Most evictions filed in Detroit during pandemic 'not in compliance' U-M group finds

Marilyn Griffin is moving from her home in Detroit's Gardenview Estates after 10 years.

The mother and her three children were evicted. She says she was laid off during the pandemic and applied for COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance, known as CERA. 

She says the apartment got thousands of dollars from it, but did not hold up its end of the deal by making repairs. 

"Gardenview Estates was supposed to fix up my place, and they failed to do that," Griffin said.

Griffin says she had complained about mold due to plumbing issues, as well as broken appliances. She says the landlord was supposed to make these repairs, but didn't, so she withheld rent, and they evicted her. Premier Property Management CEO Bob Beale says the damage to the apartment was more than normal wear and tear.

"Y'all try to take advantage, y'all take my money. You don't want to fix nothing. That don't make sense," Griffin said.

New research from Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan shows it's happening to more and more families. Their research shows even during Covid's moratorium on evictions, 25,000 eviction notices were still filed in Detroit, and thousands of families were uprooted and evicted despite the moratorium.

"It's, in many cases, easier for a landlord to evict an existing tenant and increase the rent than it is to navigate non-payment or to resolve a dispute," said Alexa Eisenberg, with Poverty Solutions.

June 30 is the last day to apply for CERA funds.

"Many tenants who have fallen behind in recent months are not going to be able to access emergency rental assistance to prevent their eviction," Eisenberg said.

She notes that nine out of 10 evictions filed from March 2020 to March 2022 were filed by landlords who weren't even code compliant, including Griffin's.

"Her property that she's living in lacks a certificate of compliance with the city of Detroit, which under the law is required for a landlord to legally rent out their unit," Eisenberg said.

Eisenburg says in the case of Gardenview Estates, research shows they're a top evictor. Beale tells FOX 2 he is owed $250,000 in back rent, which is part of a larger problem that's in need of solutions to keep people like Griffin - and her family off the street.

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