In December 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published decision that requires municipalities to give property owners an opportunity to repair structures prior to demolition, regardless of the extent of the damage or the cost to repair.
The opinion in the case, which involved a City of Brighton ordinance, can be found here.
Under Brighton’s ordinance, the city could order the demolition of an unsafe structure without an option on the part of the owner to repair the structure if it was determined that the cost of the repairs would exceed 100% of the true cash value of the structure as reflected on the tax rolls.
The Court of Appeals held that the ordinance infringes upon the owner’s due process rights and that despite the cost of the repairs or whether the repairs would be economically unreasonable, “procedural due process requires a property owner to have an option to repair a structure determined to be unsafe except in unique and emergent situations demanding immediate action.” Thus, property owners must be given a “reasonable opportunity” to repair before demolition—regardless of cost.
The Court said “of course, the municipality has the authority to define the repairs necessary and to set a reasonable time limit for completing them.” And, “[i]f a property owner fails to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable timeframe, demolition can then be ordered.”
The decision was 2-1. Read the dissenting opinion here.
The Michigan Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the City of Brighton’s appeal of the Court of Appeals decision. At this time, we don’t know when the arguments will be heard so stay tuned. Unless and until the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals decision, that decision remains binding.
A copy of the Michigan Supreme Court’s order can be found here.