A Michigan woman says that a houseguest overstayed her welcome and ended up establishing legal residency under state law. Michelle Rosso is a homeowner, but says she ended up leaving her Spring Lake home because her houseguest refused to leave. Rosso told WZZM 13 that she invited the woman to stay with her as a favor. The woman was a friend of an acquaintance and she had felt bad for her when she learned the woman needed a place to stay for a few days. The houseguest began staying in Rosso's home in June.
The news station that interviewed Rosso says that the unidentified houseguest has a history of evictions. The houseguest, in fact, has been evicted at least four times in the past five years in Ottawa County alone.
As it turned out, in order for Rosso to get her house back, she had to legally evict her houseguest. State law says that since the guest established residency at the Michigan woman's house, the only legal way for Rosso to make her leave was through a formal eviction. She asked her houseguest to leave in August, but the houseguest refused. Rosso stayed at her mom's house and her boyfriend's house during the eviction process.
"I asked the cops what I can do; there's nothing I can do as long as she established residency with an address. She is now considered a legal resident in my house," said Rosso at the time. The houseguest established residency when she got a hospital bill sent to Rosso's house. "I thought, well, I'll be nice just for a couple days. I didn't realize it would turn into this nightmare and this mess."
Rosso says the houseguest trashed her home and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. WZZM 13 reported that photos of the house show garbage scattered on the floor of the home and cat feces on the window sill.
During the eviction ordeal, she learned a lot more about her houseguest. The investigative journalists involved with Rosso's story found out that a previous landlord accused the guest of stealing an air conditioning unit. She was also convicted of check fraud several years ago.
"She is becoming what I would consider a professional tenant, she knows the process, she knows her rights, and uses those more as a sword than a shield," Ross Reuterdahl, the homeowner's lawyer, said. "When you hear or see this story, it should be a cautionary tale."
Reuterdahl told reporters that he just went through a similar situation with another client.
"You need to know who you're inviting into your house because once they start staying there, they can go from a guest to a tenant, and all of a sudden they are entitled to certain rights under Michigan law," the lawyer explained.
After filing for eviction on September 4, the homeowner finally has her home back. It took a court order. Her guest was finally out of the house on October 17. According to WZZM 13, the guest called Rosso a landlord and says that she babysat and bought groceries for the home.
The Attorney General's office stated that in Michigan, if you give a guest consent to be at your home and they refuse to leave, you must go through an eviction process. Michigan lawmakers passed a new law earlier this year to address the problem of squatting. September 24, squatting in Michigan became a criminal offense, not a civil matter, according to WXYZ. This law couldn't help Rosso, though. A houseguest is not considered a squatter and are able to establish full legal residency in the home they were invited to stay at, according to the Attorney General.
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