Michigan’s New “Padlock Law”

In March of this year, a new law went into effect that allows municipalities around the state to request that a judge declare a home to be a “public nuisance”, and have it locked up. This court order would render the house vacant and then sealed up for a full year. But to earn this notorious title of “public nuisance” in a community, a home would need to be raided by law enforcement at least twice in one year.

According to the new “padlock law”, the raids can be conducted for drug dealing, prostitution, gambling, human trafficking and unlawful firearm use. Prior to House Bill 5230 being signed into law by the Governor, the only way a home could be padlocked after a crime had taken place there, was if the Attorney General’s Office or a county prosecutor ordered it.

Under the new law, a municipality has 30 days from the date of the second raid on a property to request that a judge declare it a public nuisance, and have it padlocked. Once the court order has been signed, the residents living on the property have ten days to move all of their possessions out and winterize the property before it is officially locked up.

While the law may have passed earlier this year, it hasn’t actually been put into use until very recently. A home in Ypsilanti is now padlocked, although in this instance the owner’s defense attorney was able to arrange a consent agreement with the court which allows for a nine month “padlock” period.

Police found heroin, cocaine, a crack pipe and hypodermic needles

In this particular situation, the home was raided back in November of last year. Police found heroin, cocaine, a crack pipe and hypodermic needles. After the raid, the home owners were sent a letter stating that if the home was raided a second time, the property could be padlocked for up to a year. So when a police informant purchased crack there just a few short months later, the resulting raid was the nail in the coffin, so to speak.

According to those who lobbied for the bill when it was under consideration, the point is to keep repeat offenders out of neighborhoods, making them safer for other home owners and tenants. The “padlock law” is also aimed at providing law enforcement with another tool to reduce violence and crime in residential neighborhoods.

In the case of a rental property, if a home is raided more than twice in a year, the property will be boarded up and padlocked. The property owner, however, will still be required to maintain the property for that year. They will be required to cut the grass, shovel the sidewalk and do any other basic property maintenance. They just cannot set foot inside the property.

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