Landlord Tenant Law

Once a Landlord and Tenant enter an agreement for rent, Michigan law delegates certain rights – and responsibilities – to each person or entity.  No matter the circumstances, it is important to know the only legal way to pursue an eviction in Michigan is through the Courts and legal system.

What is a security deposit? A security deposit is money a Tenant gives to the Landlord when they move in that must be given back to them at the end of the lease, unless the Landlord has a good reason not to. Some reasons a Landlord may keep a security deposit are:

  • Tenant hasn’t paid all the required rent;
  • Tenant hasn’t paid all the utilities; or
  • Tenant damaged the home or property beyond normal wear and tear.

Non-payment of rent is the most common issue arising between Landlords and Tenants.  If a Tenant fails to pay rent, a Landlord is required to give notice and wait a statutory period of time for a Tenant to remedy the issue before an eviction complaint can be filed with the Court.

The eviction process begins when a Landlord serves notice on a Tenant describing which responsibility pursuant to the agreement a Tenant has failed to perform.

If a Tenant fails to cure the complained about issue within a statutory time period, a Landlord can file an eviction complaint in the appropriate Court of jurisdiction.  If notice was served properly, and the complaint meets all the requirements by law, the Court may issue an order to a Tenant to perform under the terms of the agreement or move out by a certain date.

Should the Tenant fail to perform or move out in the time outlined by the Court, a Landlord can apply for a Writ of Restitution, or an order from the Court allowing for the Landlord to hire a bailiff to physically remove the Tenant and his/her belongings.

What defenses do Tenants have?  Tenants have the right to live in a habitable and safe property.  They also have the right to request the Landlord to make repairs in a reasonable amount of time.  A Landlord cannot use force or threaten Tenants to make them leave, enter a home or business without permission, remove/destroy property, change locks, shut-off essential services (heat/gas) or disrupt the quiet enjoyment of the property.

If a Landlord does not respond to a Tenant’s request for repair for which the Landlord is responsible for, a Tenant may withhold rent in an escrow account (a separate bank account from one’s own personal account), or pay for the repairs and deduct that from the cost of rent.  If rent is withheld in an escrow account, Tenant should notify Landlord in writing.

What happens when a lease ends?  After the agreement ends, a Tenant can keep living in the home if they and the Landlord agree. Tenants can negotiate a new lease agreement or become a month-to-month Tenant. Some agreements/ leases have provisions about renewing the agreement. Renewal could be automatic if Tenant doesn’t do something to notify the Landlord they’re planning to move when the lease ends.

Should you hire an attorney? A Limited Liability Company or Corporation must hire an attorney to appear in court for an eviction.  No employee, member or owner of the LLC or Corporation can appear before the Court on behalf of the business without an attorney present.  For individuals, an attorney can help Landlords:

  • Serve notice properly
  • Draft an effective and complete complaint
  • Advise you of your legal alternatives

Likewise, an attorney can help Tenants:

  • Identify legal issues
  • Draft answers to Landlord’s Complaint
  • Appear in court on their behalf

We represent Landlords and Tenants on residential and commercial leases.  We draft leases, pursue legal evictions, defend against illegal evictions, and offer the best and most complete legal services for our clients from beginning to end. Please contact us if you need assistance with a legal matter pertaining to landlord/tenant laws.