Michigan Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Michigan landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Michigan Landlord Tenant Act.

MI Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 554, Act 348 - Landlord and Tenant Relationships
  • Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 554, Act 454 - Truth in Renting Act

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Michigan landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of his or her age and marital status (or change in marital status).

Landlords must follow the above Fair Housing laws UNLESS the dwelling has two or less rental units and is occupied by the landlord or landlord's immediate family member.  MCL 37.1503

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Michigan landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property  MCL 554.634 (1)
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

In addition, the lease agreement has to contain the following statement (in 12 point type or bigger):

“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.”  MCL 554.634 (2)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Michigan landlord tenant law MCL 554.633 (1), your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • limit or restrict the landlord or tenant from getting remedies if the property is not in a safe habitable condition 
  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights for security deposits
  • permit the landlord or tenant to get a confession of judgment against the other party
  • limit the landlord's liability when the landlord has failed in his or her duties - See Landlord Duties and Responsibilities below
  • limit or restrict the landlord or tenant from demanding a trial by jury over tenancy disputes
  • make the landlord or tenant pay more than the lawful limit for the other party's legal costs over tenancy disputes
  • allow the landlord to use the tenant's belongings as security deposit (unless allowed by law)
  • allow the landlord to change the terms and conditions of the lease agreement without the tenant's consent (after tenancy has begun)
  • violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act
  • make the tenant give the landlord power of attorney

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Security Deposit

Michigan landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to 1.5 month's rent as security deposit.  MCL 554.602

Holding Security Deposit

Michigan landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a regulated financial institution. The landlord can use the deposit money for other purposes IF it is deposited with the secretary of state on a cash or surety bond.  MCL 554.604.(1)]

After the tenant moves in, the landlord must provide the tenant with the following information (in writing) within 14 days:

  • name and address of financial institution holding the deposit
  • name and address of landlord  MCL 554.603

There are no Michigan landlord tenant statutes on pet deposits, non-refundable fees and security deposit interest.

Deductions and Returns

Michigan landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Michigan landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.  MCL 554.607 (a)

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a notice of damages and refund any remaining deposit by check or money order within 30 days. This notice has to individually account for all damages in writing.  MCL 554.609, MCL 554.616

In addition, this notice has to contain the following statement (in 12 point boldface type):

"You must respond to this notice by mail within 7 days after receipt of same, otherwise you will forfeit the amount claimed for damages."

If the landlord fails to follow Michigan landlord tenant law for giving this notice, it shall be assumed that there are no damages and the landlord has to refund the full deposit amount to the tenant.  MCL 554.610

However the landlord won't have to send a notice of damages if the tenant did not give the landlord a forwarding address within four days (of the lease being terminated).  MCL 554.611

If the tenant files a lawsuit to dispute the deductions, the landlord has to win the lawsuit and obtain a money judgment before he or she can keep the disputed amount. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she shall have refund the full deposit amount plus two times the amount of deposit withheld.  MCL 554.613 (2)

Change of Property Owner

If the landlord transfers his or her ownership of the property to another person by sale, assignment, appointment or death, the landlord and landlord's agent shall still be responsible for the security deposit until they do ONE of the following:

  • Transfer the security deposit to the new owner and inform the tenant of the new owner's name and address
  • Return the security deposit to the tenant  MCL 554.614 (a)

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Detroit, Michigan MI

Michigan Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.   

Late Rent

There are no Michigan landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments. If the landlord wants to impose late rent fees, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement.

If the tenant's check bounces, the landlord can demand for payment with the following text:

"A check, draft, or order for payment of money drawn by you for $__________ was returned to me/us/our client (client's name) dishonored for:

[   ] Insufficient funds

[   ] No account

This notice is a formal demand for payment of the full amount of the dishonored check, draft, or order plus a processing fee of $25.00 for a total amount of $__________. If you pay this total amount within 7 days, excluding weekends and holidays, after the date this notice was mailed, no further civil action will be taken against you.

If you do not pay the $__________ as requested above, but within 30 days after the date this notice was mailed you pay the amount of the dishonored check, draft, or order plus a $35.00 processing fee, for a total amount of $__________, no further civil action will be taken against you.

If you fail to pay either amount indicated above, I/we/our client will be authorized by state law to bring a civil action against you to determine your legal responsibility for payment of the check, draft, or order and civil damages and costs allowed by law.

If you dispute the dishonoring of this check, draft, or order, you should also contact your bank or financial institution immediately."  MCL 600.2952

Raising Rent

According to the Michigan Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a week to week tenancy, the landlord has to inform the tenant of a rent increase at least seven days in advance.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord must inform the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance.

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Michigan Landlord Tenant Act MCL 554.139 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable (unless damage was caused by tenant's negligence, misuse or abuse)
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Michigan landlord tenant law MCL 554.139 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe

After renting the property for one year or more, the landlord and tenant can amend their maintenance duties (as long as both parties are agreeable).

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Michigan landlord tenant law MCL 600.2918 (3)(b), the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting for damages

In the above situations, the landlord should inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Michigan landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Tenant did not pay rent and has probably abandoned the property  MCL 600.2918 (3)(c)

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Subletting

There are no specific Michigan landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Grand Rapids, Michigan MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan MI

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Michigan landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.

For a tenancy at will or tenancy by sufferance, you must give this notice one month before the termination date.  MCL 554.134.(1)

If the rent payment interval is less than three month, the number of days for giving a notice to quit shall be the same as the payment interval (e.g. You must give a 45 day notice if the rent is paid every 45 days).

For a month to month tenancy, you must give this notice at least one month in advance.

For a year to year tenancy, you have to give this notice at least one year in advance.

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant or child is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking

See below

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Tenant or Child is a Victim of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault or Stalking

If the tenant or tenant's child is (OR might become) a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit with the following text:

"I am a tenant at [your address]. I have a reasonable apprehension of present danger to [myself or my child] from [domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault]. This is notice that I am seeking an early release from my rental obligation under MCL 554.601b.”

In addition, the notice must include ONE of the following documents:

  • Protection order against the offender
  • Probation order, conditional release order or parole order against the offender
  • Police report filed against the offender within the last 14 days
  • Report from qualified third party (e.g. counselor, licensed health professional, mental health professional, clergy member)

The tenant shall have to pay the landlord one additional month's rent after moving out.  MCL 554.601b

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disasters or (unavoidable) accidents, the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy, and the tenancy shall terminate once the tenant moves out.  MCL 554.201

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.

If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.

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Eviction

According to Michigan landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

7 days

Tenant or related person was involved with controlled substances on property

1 day

Tenant caused serious property damage due to abuse or neglect

7 days

Tenant or related person threatened or assaulted others on property

7 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice should state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.  MCL 554.134 (2)

Tenant or Related Person was Involved with Controlled Substances on Property

If a police report has been filed alleging that the tenant or tenant's household illegally manufactured, delivered or possessed controlled substances on the property, the landlord can send the tenant 24 hour written notice to terminate the tenancy.  MCL 554.134 (4)

Tenant Caused Serious Property Damage Due to Abuse or Neglect

If the tenant's negligence, misuse or abuse caused serious property damage that endangers health and safety, the landlord can send the tenant seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  MCL 600.5714 (1)(d)

Tenant or Related Person Threatened or Assaulted Others on Property

If a police report has been filed alleging that the tenant or tenant's household threatened or assaulted another person on property, the landlord can send the tenant seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  MCL 600.5714 (1)(e)

However the landlord cannot terminate the lease if the tenant or tenant's household was the victim.

Unlawful Eviction

According to Michigan landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.
   
If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can regain possession of the property and sue the landlord for three times the amount of actual damages.  MCL 600.2918

Every time the landlord moves or tampers with the tenant's belongings (without permission or court order), the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages or $200 (whichever is greater). The landlord must also return all belongings taken from the tenant.

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Abandonment

There are no specific Michigan landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

Michigan Landlord Tenant Law: Michigan Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act

Michigan Landlord Tenant Handbook: A Practical Guide for Tenants and Landlords

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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