Houghton officials urge mercy from landlords

HOUGHTON — With many people’s finances precarious due to COVID-19, Houghton officials urged landlords to grant some leeway to delinquent tenants. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, Richelle Winkler, an associate professor of sociology and demography at Michigan Technological University, said she had heard from students and hourly employees in the community who had recently received notices from their landlords telling them if they did not pay their rent, they would be sued, and an eviction process would follow. 

On March 20, Whitmer signed an executive order allowing tenants and mobile home owners to stay in their residences even if they were behind on rent. The order also allows courts to stay eviction-related proceedings until after Michigan’s state of emergency has passed. 

The order is effective through April 17. 

“At the same time, I know there’s a lot of concern going on among people who are renters in our community, and I thought the council should be aware of that,” Winkler said. 

Winkler suggested the city set up a mediation process between renters and landlords. 

Jennifer Rachels said a friend had asked her for a backup place to stay because she had received a seven-day eviction notice from their landlord on March 23. If they were a day late, their lease, which would have expired in May, would become month-to-month, Rachels said. 

City Manager Eric Waara said he had been glad to hear of the executive order. 

“Hopefully landlords will take the high road here,” he said. 

Mayor Bob Backon agreed. 

“I’m sure it’s very devastating, with what everyone is faced with, and have to worry about eviction along with everything else,” he said.


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