Tenant Rights in Michigan

Are you a tenant renting an apartment in Michigan? If that’s the case, this article will be perfect for you! All tenants — newbies and veterans of the rental domain have to be well-aware of their rights and responsibilities to avoid unpleasant and stressful situations. This post covers all essential Michigan tenant rights, from laws regarding security deposits to health and safety regulations for rental properties.

You can jump straight into the most interesting or pressing issue or go through the whole article. Ready to start?

Rental Application

Application fee: not indicated
Application fee refund: non-refundable 
Rental agreement required: oral or written

When you apply for a rental, your potential landlord has the right to ask for the application fee. They can use it to run a background check or credit report to select the most reliable and suitable tenant. The amount of the application fee is not regulated by the Michigan tenant-landlord law, so it might vary for each landlord. Of course, it has to be reasonable and correlate with the average application fees on the rental market. 

Speaking of signing a lease, the law in Michigan acknowledges both oral and written rental agreements. Keep in mind that if you agree on a lease longer than one year, you have to sign a written rental agreement. Also, strive for signing a lease no matter for how long you want to rent the place — even if you personally know the landlord or property manager! This easy step might help you to avoid many misunderstandings in the future and feel more protected.

The inventory checklist is another thing to remember for all landlords and tenants in Michigan when they sign a lease. The landlord must provide the tenant with two copies of an inventory checklist when they move in. This document lists all the items in the unit that belong to the landlord, and it is used to summarize the state of the property when the new tenant moves in. 

Security Deposit

Pet deposit maximum: not indicated
Security deposit maximum: one and a half months’ rent
Security deposit interest: no
Return deposit deadline: 30 days
List of charges with the basis for the claim: required
Legal reasons to keep security deposit: to cover unpaid rent, utility bills, or property damage beyond normal wear and tear

Security deposits and laws related to them are one of the most controversial topics in the tenant-landlord relationship. Some states across the U.S. don’t impose restrictions over how much of a security deposit the property manager can charge, and it is mainly shaped by the market. However, tenant laws in Michigan dictate that the maximum security deposit cannot exceed one and a half months’ rent. What’s more, you should know that if the landlord charges any extra deposits or refundable fees — for example, a pet deposit or cleaning fee — the total amount of the refundable charges cannot be larger than one and a half months’ rent. This legislation does not apply to non-refundable fees, as they don’t fall within the “security deposits” classification.

In some states, last month’s rent and security deposit are considered two separate things, and the landlord has the right to collect both of them separately. This is not the case for Michigan tenant laws — if you give the landlord the last month’s rent, it will serve as a security deposit. 

After the renter moves in, the property manager has 14 days to inform them about the name and address of the financial institution where the deposit is held. Unfortunately for tenants, Michigan landlords do not have to place security deposits in interest-bearing accounts.

When the tenant decides to move out, the security deposit can be used to cover unpaid rent or any unpaid bills and property damage. Generally, the landlord has to return a security deposit within 30 days after move-out. If they believe that they should keep some part of it to cover expenses, they must present a tenant with the itemized list of damages. It can be done by mail with the check for the rest of the deposit (if any). Upon receipt, the tenant has seven days to dispute this list and the returned amount.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Security and Comfort

Smoke alarms: required
Carbon monoxide detectors: required if there is a CO source in the house
Rekey requirements: not indicated

There are some provisions that oversee the installation of smoke alarms and CO detectors in residential properties (including rentals). Compared to the legislations in the other states, those in Michigan are not very clear and straightforward and might include some vague wording. 

For example, carbon monoxide detectors have to be installed in every newly constructed dwelling unit with an attached garage or fuel-fired appliances. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in older buildings that undergo construction and require a building permit. These should also fall under the same criteria — have fuel-fired appliances or an attached garage. The law states that the detectors should be located in the vicinity of the bedrooms, but there is no precise specification in feet. 

According to the Housing Law of Michigan, smoke alarms must be installed in each dwelling unit. As a tenant, you must inform the landlord when it’s time to replace batteries or if there are any malfunctions.

Rental Payments

Maximum rent: not indicated
Rent increase: not allowed in the middle of the lease; requires a notice equal to the interval between the times of payment
Right to withhold rent for failure to provide essential services (such as water, heat, etc.): allowed
Late payment limit: not indicated

Tenant laws in Michigan are considered to be landlord-friendly. This becomes especially evident if you look at the provisions related to rental payments. 

There is no limit on the amount of rent landlords can charge — similarly to the application fee, it is largely shaped by the rental market. Also, there is no rent control for how often the landlord can increase the rent or the maximum amount of the increase as long as it takes place between lease terms. 

You should remember that the landlord has no right to increase the rent in the middle of your lease (for example, if you have a year rental agreement) unless stated otherwise in the agreement. If you have a month-by-month tenancy, the property manager can increase rent with a one-month notice.

The Michigan landlord-tenant law does not grant a grace period for those tenants who fail to pay rent on time. 

If the landlord fails to provide essential services or refuses to make required repairs, the renter has a right to withhold rent. First, the tenant should provide the property manager with a written notice that describes the problem and give them a reasonable amount of time to fix it. If the landlord takes no steps to solve the issue, the tenant may deposit rent into an escrow account instead of paying it directly to the landlord.

Lease Terminations

Notice to terminate lease: requires a notice equal to the interval between the times of payment
Eviction notice for not paying rent: seven days notice to quit
Eviction notice for lease violation: from 24 hours depending on the violation type

Before filing an eviction in the state of Michigan, the landlord must provide a notice to quit to the tenant. It has to be delivered either in person or by first-class mail. Depending on the issue, the renter will have a certain period of time to fix the problem or vacate the property.

For example, if the tenant fails to pay rent, they have seven days to react to the notice before the property manager might file for an eviction in court. Also, they will be presented with a seven-day notice if they cause serious damage to the property or if the tenant constitutes a health hazard. 

Those tenants who might violate the lease or stay in the property after the lease comes to an end will receive a 30-day eviction notice. Finally, the most severe — a 24-hour notice to quit applies to those renters who conduct illegal drug activity.

If you decide to terminate the lease, you must give the landlord proper notice. If it’s a month-to-month rental agreement, any party must provide one month’s termination notice. If it’s a fixed-end lease — for example, for one year — it terminates automatically at the end of the period. 

Thank you for reading this summary of the Michigan tenant rights. Hopefully, thanks to this article, you’ll feel more confident in any controversial or problematic situations with your current or future landlord. And, if you want to read up on general rights and rules in the tenant-landlord law, we have a piece that covers an overview of renter rights in the U.S.

Disclaimer: Although we have relied on Official State Statutes and other credible sources to find and analyze information for this post, you’re advised to use it as a starting point only and do not consider this article a substitute for legal advice. Some situations are unique, and it is always better to consult with a qualified lawyer or appropriate government agencies.

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