According to Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 600.2918, if a landlord puts a tenant out in a forcible and unlawful manner, or keeps the tenant out by force, the tenant if he prevails in court, is entitled to recover three times the amount of his actual damages or $200, whichever is greater. He is, of course, also entitled to recover possession of the premises.
If the landlord “unlawfully interferes” with the tenant’s possessory interest, the tenant can recover his actual damages or $200.00, whichever is greater, for each occurrence and, where possession has been lost, to recover possession. Unlawful interference includes:-using or threatening force;
-removing, retaining or destroying the tenant’s personal property;
-changing, altering, or adding to the locks or other security devices on the property without immediately providing keys or other unlocking devices to the tenant;
-boarding up the premises to prevent or deter entry;
-removing doors, windows, or locks;
-causing the termination or interruption of an essential service; and
-causing noise, odor or other nuisance.
Unlawful interference does not include:
-acting pursuant to court order;
-interfering temporarily to make needed repairs or inspection and only as provided by law; or
-acting in good faith under the belief that the premises have been abandoned.
The procedure followed is to bring an action for possession pursuant to MCL 600.5714(1)(d) or bring a claim for injunctive relief in circuit court. The claim for damages may be joined with claims for possession and for injunctive relief or may be brought in a separate action. The tenant has 90 days to file an action to regain possession and one year to file an action for damages.
Once in court, the tenant may also request that the court order payment of costs according to MCL 600.5759. Under that section, the court may tax costs to the landlord in the amount of:
-$75.00 for a motion that results in dismissal or judgment,
-$75.00 for a judgment taken by default or consent,
-$150.00 for the trial of a claim for possession only,
-$150.00 for the trial of a claim for a money judgment only, and
-$150.00 for a trial including both a claim for possession and a claim for a money judgment.