Under Michigan law (MCLA 554.139, MSA 26.1109), a landlord is obligated to make sure that residential rental property is fit fore the use intended by the parties. A landlord is further obligated to keep premises in reasonable repair and to comply with state and local health and safety law. However, the parties can modify these obligations if the term of the lease is one year or longer.
The use of security deposits is governed by Michigan P.A. 348,1972. Your lease cannot waive any of your rights under the Security Deposit Act. A security deposit has a specific purpose: to reimburse the landlord for damage to the rental unit, unpaid rent, or unpaid utility bills left by the tenant. (See "Security Deposit.")
Your lease cannot require you to pay for your landlord's attorney's fees, allow your landlord to choose your attorney, forfeit your right to a jury trial, or require you to plead guilty in any court dispute.
A lease provision which allows your landlord to seize your property without following the proper procedures is illegal. Your landlord must first obtain a court judgment against you, and then must obtain an order to collect payment.
Your lease cannot require that you automatically pay the entire amount of rent remaining if you break the lease. Your landlord probably will charge you rent for the period during which he/she is unable to find a tenant. It is to your advantage to help the landlord find a new tenant. If you have to break lease, both you and your landlord have a duty to mitigate damages. This means that each of you has a responsibility to minimize the cost to each other. Your landlord has a duty to actively seek a new tenant for the rental unit and cannot charge you for rent after he or she has found a new tenant.
Only a bailiff or sheriff with a court order can physically remove you from a rental unit. An eviction can occur only after your landlord has won the court hearing and your appeal period has expired. Your landlord can evict you for any of the following reasons: nonpayment of rent, holding over past the expiration of your lease, or damaging the property. If your landlord use force or threatens to use force, removes or destroys your personal property, changes the locks on your doors or windows, shuts off a utility, or introduces some type of nuisance, the court can award you $200 or two-to-three times your actual damages, whichever is greater. (See "Illegal Evictions".)
Generally, your landlord cannot alter a provision of your lease without your written consent. However, a lease can contain a provision that certain adjustments can be made, provided the tenant is given 30 days written notice. These adjustments are for:
This section of the Act does not allow rent increases for other reasons, such as increased maintenance and labor costs.
If you feel your lease contains a provision prohibited by the Truth in Renting Act, write your landlord a letter pointing out the questionable provision(s). Keep a copy of the letter for your own records. Once your landlord receives your letter, he or she has 20 days to correct the lease by notifying all of the tenants that he or she is voiding or altering the illegal provision. If the landlord fails to cure the lease within 20 days, you may seek relief in any of the following forms:
If the lease fails to contain the landlord's name and address or the required notice, the tenant can:
The Truth in Renting Act required that every written rental agreement contain the following, or a similar statement:
"NOTICE: Michigan law establishes rights and obligations for parties to rental agreements. This agreement is required to comply with the Truth in Renting Act. If you have a question about the interpretation or legality of a provision of this agreement, you may want to seek assistance from a lawyer or other qualified person."
This statement must appear in a prominent place in the lease and must be in 12-point type.
Original HTML by Timothy Strunk