Do you own and rent properties in Michigan? If so, it’s your responsibility to know and abide by the Michigan landlord tenant laws, a set of laws that regulate the relationships between landlords and tenants. From how much you can charge for a security deposit to how much notice you must give for an eviction, these laws are your lease-building bread and butter.
But you can’t implement them (or avoid the penalties of violating them) without having a strong understanding of how these laws affect you and your tenants.
This article overviews all the Michigan rental laws you need to know to successfully operate a rental business in the Great Lakes state.
Required disclosures are specific notices or information that you, the landlord, are required to provide to tenants before the tenancy begins, either within the rental agreement or lease or separately. In Michigan, there are six required disclosures:
- Lead-based paint hazards – This federally mandated disclosure requires landlords to include an EPA-approved pamphlet about the hazards of lead-based paint for certain buildings and disclose any known lead hazards.
- Landlord/agent identity – You must provide your name and address (or the name and address of your agent).
- Truth in Renting Act – This law regulates lease agreements and rental policies in Michigan. Landlords are required to include a notice informing tenants that the lease must comply with this law.
- Security deposit receipt – You must provide a receipt of a tenant’s security deposit payment within 14 days after they have moved in.
- Move-in/move-out checklists – These are inventory checklists you must provide tenants at move in and move out. They disclose the existing condition of the property.
- Domestic violence disclosure – You must inform tenants that they have the right to terminate the rental agreement if they are in danger because of a domestic violence situation.
Rent and Fee Laws
Rent control laws are banned in Michigan, meaning that no law can cap rent rates. This is good news for landlords—you can charge the highest reasonable amount based on market rates and the property’s square footage, amenities. However, keep in mind that landlords cannot increase rent in the middle of the lease term.
There is also no mandatory grace period, statutory late fee limits, or rental application fee limits in Michigan. Each of these policies are up to your own discretion. The only rent-related fee that Michigan regulates is the bounced check fee – if a tenant’s rent check bounces, you may charge a maximum of $25 if paid within seven days and $35 if paid within 30 days.
Lastly, Michigan does enforce some laws that protect tenants from poor treatment. If you refuse to make necessary repairs or comply with health and safety laws, the tenant has the right to withhold rent (and deposit it into an escrow account) or take advantage of the “repair and deduct” remedy by arranging for the repair and deducting its cost from rent.
Security Deposit Laws
Security deposits are limited to 1.5 months’ rent in Michigan. You aren’t required to pay interest on security deposits in this state, but you do need to keep them at a regulated financial institution or a cash/surety bond with the Secretary of State. You must return deposits within 30 days after the end of a tenancy, and you can withhold funds from it for unpaid rent, unpaid utility bills, premature termination, or actual damages to the unit.
Fair Housing Laws
Fair housing laws protect tenants from undue discrimination based on their membership in a protected class. Most landlords are familiar with the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status.
However, you might not be aware that Michigan has its own fair housing laws in the Michigan Fair Housing Act. Michigan reaffirms these protections and also prohibits age and marital status-based discrimination.
Michigan landlords also have responsibilities when it comes to using criminal background checks responsibly. In general, criminal histories are permitted during tenant screening in Michigan, However, if your properties are located in Ann Arbor, there are some restrictions. According to the Michigan Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance, landlord in this city may not ask about applicants’ criminal histories, compel applicants to disclose them, or require applicants to authorize the release of this information. There are some exceptions, but it’s important to be aware of this law if you rent in Ann Arbor.
Eviction is highly regulated in all 50 states. This article won’t discuss all the laws and procedures for evictions in Michigan, but here are some important ones to know about eviction notices.
If a tenant has not paid rent, eviction laws in Michigan require you to send a 7-day notice to pay-or-quit. This means the tenant has one full week to pay their rent to avoid being evicted, after which you can officially file for eviction.
If the violation was more severe and involves the tenant possessing or manufacturing illegal drugs (and a police report has been filed for such), then you can send a 24-hour notice to quit to terminate the tenancy.
Operating a rental business is no easy feat, and neither is understanding complex legal language. But reading and understanding the law is critical to maintaining compliant properties and avoiding trouble with the law.