The perils of renting in Detroit
Man stands in front of a room filled with framed photos, flowers, books and a window overlooking a busy street.
Jerome Butts, 73, at the downtown Detroit apartment where he has lived for 13 years.
Photo credit: Aaron Mondry
For the last 13 years Jerome Butts has been living downtown next to Grand Circus Park in the Fyfe Apartments. His apartment near the top of the building has unparalleled views down Woodward Avenue and Washington Boulevard. 

Butts could afford the rent, but last month his landlord evicted him anyway. The 73-year-old lifelong Detroiter has until Jan. 15 to vacate. His tenancy was “terminated” by building management, a type of eviction a landlord can use to recover their property after a lease is up without cause on a 30-day notice. 

The specifics of Butts’ situation may be unique, but the increasing difficulty of navigating Detroit as a renter is more and more common. Living in homes in disrepair and then being forced out are ordinary occurrences for the nearly 300,000 Detroiters living in rentals. Other renters also struggle with a rapidly changing rental market, a lack of affordable housing and a court system that’s difficult to navigate. The city and advocacy groups are trying to adapt.