Top 8 Landlord Responsibilities in Michigan
Whether you’ve been renting for years or you’re just getting started in the real estate industry, it’s important to know your landlord responsibilities or legal obligations as a landlord.
As a landlord, you can’t just rent a property and forget about it. Just like your tenants—you have certain responsibilities. Thankfully, when it comes to landlord-tenant law in Michigan, it’s fairly straightforward. As long as you do your part by conducting yourself correctly in the eyes of the law and creating a good relationship with your tenant, managing your rental will be a lot easier. After all, a happy tenant means you’ll have them longer, and a more stable rental income for you.
So, what exactly does doing “your part” as a landlord entail?
In this guide, we covered the 8 legal obligations that fall on landlords in Michigan. If you’re renting properties in the aforementioned area, you’ll certainly want to review these laws and ensure that you comply with them, or you risk your entire investment venture.
The Top 8 Landlord Responsibilities in Michigan
While tenants are responsible for paying their rent on time and maintaining the property on the day-to-day, you have obligations as well. Here are the responsibilities to keep in mind as a landlord in Michigan. If you follow and practice these, you can avoid any legal disputes and maintain a good rapport with your tenants.
Landlord Responsibilities no. 1: Providing a Lease or Rental Agreement
You’re responsible for drafting the lease agreement and having it signed by the tenants.
A lease or rental agreement provides the rental amount, period of occupancy, and duties for both the tenant and landlord towards the property. Also taken into consideration are all relevant local, state, and federal laws. Basically, a lease or rental agreement sets out the obligations that both you and your tenant must follow (as long as the signed lease remains effective).
As a landlord, you also need to itemize the legally-required disclosures during the signing. Failing to do so may result in unfair pricing, shoddy repairs, and more burdens down the line for tenants who are not getting the necessary information on the property.
Landlord Responsibilities no. 2: Follow Anti-Discrimination Laws
Anti-discrimination laws apply when you are screening your tenants, advertising to your potential renters, and dealing with them once they’re on your property. If you fail to know and follow anti-discrimination laws, this can result in costly lawsuits and discrimination complaints.
As long as you remain objective in your assessment for tenants, then you can avoid disputes that suggest any discrimination involved. Anti-discrimination laws are in place to remove the bias of people’s background for things like age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability, and national origin. These traits are not within someone’s ability to change, so you can’t fairly refuse them for any of these reasons. Valid reasons for rejection, for example, is if the inquiring tenant has a poor payment record or has a history of not abiding by the previous lease agreements. If the prospective tenant is also not capable of caring for the property, meeting payments, and other lease terms—then they are not eligible for tenancy.
Landlord Responsibilities no. 3: Follow Rental and Eviction Laws
As a landlord, you expect tenants to meet, be punctual, and adjust to rental payments. For situations like raising the rent or tenant eviction, there are rules and procedures in Michigan that you can’t avoid.
Rent-related issues are regulated under state law. These include how much time a tenant has for paying (7 days) or moving out before a landlord files for eviction.
If you find yourself in a situation wherein you have to evict a tenant, it’s best to go about with as smoothly as possible. You don’t want to have a problem with both your tenant and the law. By following the protocol as stated by the law, you’re in legal right to evict a tenant.
5. Security Deposits Laws
Another common dispute between tenants and landlords is security deposits. Despite popular belief, landlords may not withhold a security deposit unless there is damage beyond reasonable wear and to the property. For example, a small hole from a thumbtack is considered normal use, whereas a major hole or other wall damage that requires repairs can be deducted from the deposit.
To avoid problems, make sure you know of state laws regarding how much you can charge (1 and a half months) and when to return (within 30 days of the tenant leaving) security deposits. Being aware of and following state laws can help you avoid disputes concerning security deposits with your tenant.
6. Property Quality: Maintenance and Repair
Under Michigan’s legal doctrine called “implied warranty of habitability,” landlords, like yourself, are obligated to keep the rental property suitable for tenancy. Such obligations are making sure the house is clean, functional, and in good condition.
Your tenants expect a place where they can live in full comfort and safety. This means any problems like broken plumbing, electrical wiring, and damaged floors, won’t make for suitable living conditions.
As a landlord, you must ensure that the rental property allows tenants to live in comfort, ease, and function. You’re required by law to do this, and you should since it’s part of maintaining a good relationship with your tenants.
7. Comply With Local House Codes
Before your property is eligible for rent, you must acquire a “certificate of occupancy.”
Local governments have established housing codes for landlords to adhere to before their properties can be rented. In case local laws are absent, then you can refer to state laws regarding housing codes.
Apart from abiding by the building codes, a certificate occupancy also indicates that your property is in good condition and suitable for tenancy. With a certificate of occupancy, you’re assured that your property is compliant with regulations. In addition, this appeals to potential tenants knowing your property meets current legal standards.
By having your bases covered, you can go about your rentals worry-free.
8. Unit Clean-Up and Maintenance Post Occupancy
Once your tenant leaves, you need to clean and make the necessary repairs and touch-ups before leasing the home out to another tenant. This means you’ll need to hire deep cleaning professionals and possibly contractors—remedying the things that fell victim to wear and tear.
Still, if you see that your tenants have caused significant damage to the property, you’ll need to take it out of the security deposit. After all, tenants are responsible for the damages they cause within their period of occupancy if it’s beyond regular wear and tear.
Keeping your rental investment well-maintained is important if you want to keep generating income. This means you should be tending to it professionally—both your property and your tenant. By knowing your landlord responsibilities, you can be sure your property is eligible to live in and foster good relationships with your tenants.
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