Tenants in Michigan have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord about the issue that needs fixing, and allow a reasonable time for the repairs to be made.
Michigan Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs
Michigan landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:
Required smoke alarms and CO detectors.
Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.
If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.
What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Michigan?
Michigan tenants are responsible for repairingany damage they cause to the propertywhich affects health and safety, as well as any damage caused by a lack of cleanliness.
Requesting Repairs in Michigan
Michigan tenantsaren’t required to request repairs in a particular manner,so both written notice as well as verbal forms like phone calls and personal conversations are acceptable.Written notice is usually safest since it permits wording and timing to be proven precisely.
How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Michigan?
Michigan landlords have a“reasonable time”to make repairs after getting a request from the tenant. What’s reasonable gets decided case by case, based on all the circumstances.
Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Michigan?
Michigan landlordscannot refuse to make repairs that are their responsibility,even if the tenant isn’t current on rent, since withholding some part of the rent is the main remedy a tenant in Michigan has for failure to repair.
Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Michigan?
Michigan landlords arenot required to pay for alternative accommodationwhile they conduct repairs.
Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Michigan
Michigan tenants canwithhold rentorrepair and deductwhen the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs. They can alsoget an injunctionto force repairs, and sometimesclaim constructive eviction, cancel the lease, and move out.
Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Michigan?
Michigan tenantscan withhold rentlegally, but only under specific conditions. A court order can authorize a tenant to withhold rent. Alternatively, when government officials have withdrawn a property’s certificate of occupancy, the tenant can withhold without a court order, by following a statutory procedure.
Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Michigan?
Michigan tenantscan professionally contract for repairs and deductthe actual and reasonable cost from the rent, when the landlord hasn’t fixed an issue within a reasonable time after notice.
Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Michigan?
Michigan tenantsgenerally can’t break their leaseunless the landlord interferes with the tenancy so severely that it creates a constructive eviction. A court can also order the lease terminated for the tenant.
Can the Tenant Sue in Michigan?
Michigan tenantscan sue to force repairsor recover other forms of relief, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs.
Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Michigan?
Michigan tenantscan report landlords for code violationsthat affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a substantial health and safety violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or withhold rent.
It’s illegal for Michigan landlords to retaliate withevictionorincreased obligations under the rental agreement,against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions within the last 90 days:
Reporting health and safety violations.
Attempting to secure rights under law or lease.
Participating in a tenant organization.
Withholding rent for a lawful reason.
The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
“In every lease or license of residential premises, the lessor or licensor covenants: (a) That the premises and all common areas are fit for the use intended by the parties. (b) To keep the premises in reasonable repair during the term of the lease or license, and to comply with the applicable health and safety laws of the state and of the local unit of government where the premises are located, except when the disrepair or violation of the applicable health or safety laws has been caused by the tenants wilful or irresponsible conduct or lack of conduct. (2) The parties to the lease or license may modify the obligations imposed by this section where the lease or license has a current term of at least 1 year.”
“Every dwelling and all the parts thereof including plumbing, heating, ventilating and electrical wiring shall be kept in good repair by the owner. The roof shall be so maintained as not to leak and the rain water shall be drained and conveyed therefrom through proper conduits into the sewerage system in accordance with plumbing regulations so as to avoid dampness in the walls and ceilings and insanitary conditions.” Mich. Comp. L. § 125.471 (2022). Note that unlike Mich. Comp. L. § 554.139(1) & (2) (2022), this section does not provide for the possibility of explicit waiver in leases of one year and longer terms.
“Every dwelling and every part thereof shall be kept clean and shall also be kept free from any accumulation of dirt, filth, rubbish, garbage or other matter in or on the same, or in the yards, courts, passages, areas or alleys connected therewith or belonging to the same. The owner of every dwelling shall be responsible for keeping the entire building free from vermin. The owner shall also be responsible for complying with the provisions of this section except that the tenants shall be responsible for the cleanliness of those parts of the premises that they occupy and control.”
“For new construction, an approved carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.”
The judicial bench guide for Michigan landlord-tenant issues is non-binding but summarizes the relevant legal standards: “If a landlord fails to make repairs, the residential tenant may have a statutory right to make repairs and then deduct the cost of repairs from the rent. However, the tenant cannot be the cause of the condition. The tenant also has a common-law right to repair and deduct.” Phoenix Hummel, Residential Landlord-Tenant Law Benchbook at 1-30 (2022 ed.) See also Id. at 2-24 (“The HLM [Housing Law of Michigan] expressly authorizes remedies that include injunctive relief, repair and deduct orders for tenants, costs of repairs charged to an at- fault tenant, demolition, and receiverships.”)
“When any leased or rented building is destroyed, or is so injured by the elements, or in any other way, as to be untenantable or unfit for occupancy, and no express agreement to the contrary has been made in writing, the lessee or occupant may, if the destruction or injury occurred without his fault or neglect, quit and surrender possession of the building, and of the land so injured, destroyed, or rendered untenantable or unfit for occupancy; and such lessee or occupant shall not be liable to pay to the lessor or owner rent for the time subsequent to the surrender.” Mich. Comp. L. § 554.201 (2022)See alsoDe Bruyn Bros. Realty Co. v. Photo Lith Plate Service Corp., 31 Mich. App. 487, 489 (Mich. Ct. App. 1971) (“A party should be held evicted when the act of the landlord is of such a character as to deprive the tenant, or has the effect of depriving him, of the beneficial use and enjoyment of the whole or any part of the demised property, to the extent he is thus deprived.”)
“Where the landlord has covenanted to make repairs and fails to do so, the tenant, after giving reasonable notice to the landlord, may make the repairs and recover the cost of such repairs from the landlord or he may deduct the cost from the rent. Unless the landlord’s duty to repair is expressly made conditional upon receipt of notice from the tenant, such duty may arise from the landlord’s actual knowledge of the need for repair.”
Michigan’s retaliation statute is sprawlingly organized, which makes it difficult to provide direct citation to each provision in context. The statute is short, however, and accessible at Mich. Comp. L. 600.5720 (2022).