LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers finalized a bill Tuesday that would let landlords email eviction notices to tenants or notify them through social media, which supporters said is a reflection that more business is done online and detractors said is inadequate for something as serious as evictions.
State law says landlords must deliver eviction notices in writing, either on site or by first-class mail. A bill given final approval by the Republican-controlled Senate on a 26-11 vote would permit electronic notices if tenants consent beforehand.
It goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature.
Supporters say the legislation reflects the changing behaviors of tenants. Not all tenants are requesting a mailbox, or they are checking it infrequently while doing more personal business online.
“Most people now are communicating by email,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Anthony Forlini of Macomb County’s Harrison Township. “It’s a good thing for tenants. It’s getting ahead of the curve for them.”
Emailing a notice may allow tenants to get a notice sooner and provide evidence that it was sent, he said.
Critics say people change their email addresses or might not see a notice if it ends up in their junk folder.
“It’s not exactly a reliable way of legally notifying somebody. I didn’t feel that was adequately addressed in the bill,” said Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, who was among 10 Democrats to join one Republican in opposing the legislation. Twenty-six Republicans supported it.
The bill would prohibit landlords from refusing to enter leases because prospective tenants decline to consent to electronic notices.
The State Bar of Michigan opposes the legislation.
Governmental relations director Peter Cunningham wrote a letter to senators last week citing concerns about frequent changes in email addresses, spam filters and unreliable Internet access. While the bill would bar landlords from denying a lease to tenants who refuse to agree to email notification, he said, “there is a concern that it would be unlikely for tenants to successfully negotiate this provision out of a lease.