Michigan is home to around ten million people, making it the 18th most densely populated state. Of this population, around one quarter of people rent their homes. As such, it can be a great real estate market for a landlord investing in properties they'd like to rent out.
Both Michigan landlords and tenants who rent from them in Michigan are governed by the statewide landlord-tenant laws. As a landlord, understanding these laws and each tenant's rights can help you deal with many legal issues without needing expert legal services. It's important to consider this when drafting your lease agreement to ensure it complies with Michigan State law.
As a landlord, it can be a lot of work to keep up with all of the laws that relate to you and your tenants, which is why many owners turn to an experienced property management company for help with the lease agreement.
The following is a basic overview of Michigan landlord tenant law.
Required Landlord Disclosures
Before a Michigan tenant can sign a lease and rent your home, a landlord must provide a written notice to disclose certain information to tenants, according to Michigan landlord tenant laws.
In Michigan, the following is what a landlord needs to include in your lease or written notice to your tenant before they sign to rent your rental.
Your identity: You must notify your Michigan tenant, in writing, of your name and address.
Move-in list: You must provide your tenant with a move-in checklist. This is basically a summary of the move-in condition of the home and will act as a reference once a tenant moves out. A move-in checklist doesn't need to be expressely included in the lease agreement.
Truth in Renting Act: The Truth in Renting Act is legislation in the state of Michigan that mandates a level of transparency that landlords must have with their tenants. For instance, Michigan landlords must provide notice to tenants if lead based paint exists on the property. Landlords must also provide notice of the responsibilities both parties have.
Domestic Violence Victims: In Michigan, tenants who have been involved in a domestic legal issue have special rights. One of these rights is the ability to terminate the lease early if they can prove they have been a victim of sexual assault or stalking, or they've been otherwise involved in domestic brutality. Landlords in Michigan must let each tenant know about this right through a written notice.
Security Deposit: Much like every other state, Michigan law states that landlords have a right to require a security deposit prior a new tenant moves in.
Law in Michigan also states that a landlord is obligated to provide their potential tenant with some critical information upon receiving security deposits, including the regulated financial institution holding the security deposit, if it's in an escrow account, and the tenant’s obligation to provide you a forwarding address. If a landlord fails to do so, they may face legal repurcussions per Michigan law.
Landlord and Tenant Rights in Michigan
Tenants’ Rights & Responsibilities
Michigan Tenants have numerous rights as per the statewide landlord-tenant statute and the Fair Housing Act.
According to Michigan's state landlord tenant laws, tenants have the right to:
- Remain in their the unit they rent until the landlord has followed the judicial eviction process, unless they are squatters with no lease.
- Have repairs done by landlords within a reasonable timeframe once they have notified the landlord. In the case that landlords don't adequately respond to a tentant's request for repairs, a tenant may have the right to make repairs and deduct the money from the monthly rent they pay.
- Be notified whenever the landlord is seeking to make changes to the terms of the lease agreement.
- Live in peace and quiet away from any unreasonable disruptions of their rental properties.
- Receive a written receipt once after the landlord receives their security deposit.
- Live in a home that adheres to all Michigan safety, health, state laws and building codes.
- To refuse rent payments should the landlord act in an illegal fashion.
- Provide their landlord access to the property under the correct conditions.
Tenant responsibilities, according to Michigan's housing statute includes:
- Provide the landlord with the required notice before moving out or terminating the lease early.
- Adhere to all terms of the rental agreement, at the risk of eviction guided by state laws.
- Keep noise levels reasonable to respect other tenants.
- To only withhold rent from landlords when it is legally appropriate.
- Inform the Michigan landlord of any maintenance or repair issues.
- Inform the landlord whenever they will be leaving town for an extended period of time.
- Keep the rental unit in a reasonable state of cleanliness.
- Pay rent and utility bills on time and provide a tenant's security deposit if required as per the written rental agreement.
Landlords’ Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords in Michigan have the following rights and responsibilities:
- The right to enter to access the rental unit to carry out important responsibilities. For example, to carry out requested or agreed upon repairs, to inspect the unit, or to show the unit to a prospective tenant, buyer, or lender.
- The right to receive sufficient notice when a tenant looks to vacate their rented premises.
- The right to require a security deposit before a tenant can sign a lease.
- The right to follow state eviction proceedings, in warranted situations, for example should a lease violation occur or unpaid rent.
- The right to notified when a tenant is looking to go out of town for an extended period of time.
- Have their tenants paying rent for the duration of the agreement after the tenant signs.
Landlord responsibilities include:
- Abiding by all terms of the lease or rental agreements.
- Following the proper judicial process during an eviction.
- Serving the tenant with a proper notice before making any changes to the lease agreement or charging new fees.
- Ensuring the tenant enjoys their rented premises in quiet and peace.
- Responding to requested repairs in a timely manner.
- Abide by rent control laws.
- Ensuring the premises adhere to all state and local habitability rules and the fair housing act.
- To store security deposits correctly as per the law.
If a landlord does not complete these responsibilities then it may open them up to legal action.
Overview of the Michigan Landlord-Tenant Laws
Small Claims Courts
A Michigan small claims court will hear lawsuits involving violations of a housing statute by up to $5,000. Common disputes usually involve the return of security deposits, failure to pay rent, or the charges of fees.
A Michigan tenant may think that they have returned the property in a good state, but the landlord may disagree.
Consequently, under landlord tenant law, the Michigan tenant may move to court to sue the landlord for making inappropriate deductions to their security deposit. A small claims court will handle fees and deposits, but not eviction proceedings.
In a neighboring state like Illinois, a landlord must give their tenant at least a 24 hours’ notice before entering their units. This is however not the case in Michigan. Michigan doesn’t state how much notice a landlord must serve their tenant prior to entering their unit.
Thus, you are free to come up with your own policies in the lease agreement. The only exception for a notice should be in times of emergencies.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits any form of housing-related discrimination based on some protected characteristics.
The characteristics include sex, religion, color, race, disability, national origin, familial and marital status.
Examples of acts that may be taken to be discriminatory include:
- Falsely denying that a unit is available when it actually is.
- Publishing a rental listing that seems to discourage people of certain characteristics from applying.
- Charging additional fees or making tenants pay a higher rent based on protected characteristics.
- Asking certain questions during tenant screening such as "which country are you originally from" or "are you a Christian?"
Michigan has no rent control law in place. As such, as a landlord, you are free to increase a tenant's rent by any amount you see fit, once their leases has ended.
With that being said, charging your tenants the right rent amount is key. If you overcharge, you’ll risk long vacancy periods or inflated expectations.
Also, landlords don’t need to justify or give notice to their tenants prior to increasing rent payment rates. No statute limits to how much you can raise the rent by, as well.
Disclaimer: The information herein does not consitute legal advice. If you have more questions or require professional assistance, please hire expert legal services.