Unreturned Rental Property Diversion Program
The Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) now offers an Unreturned Rental Property diversion program. This diversion option was created to help businesses that rent items (e.g, cars, DVDs, etc.) to improve their bottom lines. The diversion program is free to businesses and is designed to help with the recovery of past due rental property.
Michigan Compiled Laws 750.362a states that it is a crime for a renter to willfully fail to return rental property upon notification by the business. Based on the value of the rented item, punishment may range from a 93-day misdemeanor to a 10-year felony.
What the Unreturned Rental Property Diversion Program Covers
- Equipment Rentals
- Library Books
- Movie Rentals (DVDs, etc.), Including from Libraries
Note: The ECU's Rental Property Diversion program does not cover landlord-tenant cases (apartment rentals/leases).
How the Rental Property Diversion Program Works
The Rental Property Diversion program will be similar to our Bad Check Diversion program. Businesses have the opportunity to file a complaint with the ECU if a renter does not return rental property by the due date. In order to use the program, businesses must follow certain procedures.
Steps Necessary for Merchant to Open a Case
- There must be a written rental agreement in place. The agreement must state:
- A description of the rented property
- The date the item was rented and the date due for return
- Location to which the rented property should be returned (address, city, state, zip code, and county)
- A past due rental property notification letter (PDF) must be sent to the renter/customer.
- The notification must list the last known address of the renter.
- The notification must be sent by certified or registered mail.
- Allow the renter 10 days from the date of the notice to respond.
- If there is no response to the notice letter, submit the following documents by mail or fax to the ECU for Eaton County cases:
- Copy of Rental Application
- Copy of Rental Agreement with total amounts/remaining balance
- Copy of Notice Letter
- Copy of certificate of mailing of Certified Letter
- Proof of Delivery (if applicable)
- Rental Property Complaint form (PDF)
Businesses can recover the value or cost of the unreturned property, reasonable late fees, and the certified or registered letter charge. Once a business files a complaint, the late fees are limited to those listed on the complaint. Late fees will not be calculated after a complaint is submitted.
After a Complaint is Filed
- The ECU sends out a payment demand letter to the customer.
- If the suspect comes in and pays, prosecution will be declined.
- If the suspect does not respond or disagrees with the merchant's facts, we will consider prosecuting the case with formal charges.