Michigan Rental Application Form

Last Updated: February 24, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

The Michigan rental application form is a document that landlords send out to a prospective tenant to help them decide if they should rent to the applicant. This screening asks for information like rental history, eviction history, and income statements which help determine the trustworthiness of a tenant.

QUICK INFO
  • Application Fee – in Michigan, there is no limit on what a landlord can charge as an application fee.
  • Discrimination Laws – Michigan provides state protections against discrimination in addition to federal law which makes it illegal in Michigan to ask about race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disabilities, familial status, and more, with some exceptions.
  • Consent for Credit Check – the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires a prospective tenant to give written consent to check their credit history during the screening process.

Michigan Laws on Rental Application Fees

In Michigan, there is no limit or maximum rental application fee a landlord can charge a prospective tenant. It’s advised to not charge more than the average out-of-pocket expense, but ultimately the determination of the fee is at the sole discretion of the landlord.

According to Michigan state law, if a prospective tenant’s application is accepted, the landlord may charge no more than one and one-half month’s rent for a security deposit. A receipt for the security deposit is required and must disclose the name and location of the account where the funds are being held. Security deposits must be held in a regulated financial institution within the state.

What Michigan Rental Application Forms Can’t Ask About

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin (Nationality)
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status (Having or not having children)
  • Disability (Physical or Mental)

Michigan state laws add additional protections for the following classes:

  • Age
  • Marital Status

Asking about any of these items on a rental application form (and/or using them to base an application decision on) is illegal.

Exemptions from Fair Housing laws do exist. In Michigan, the following exemptions are allowed:

  • Familial Status – it is acceptable to ask about and base an application decision on if children will occupy the rented premises in any two-family owner-occupied buildings.
  • Age – landlords may ask for an applicant’s age in the case of age-restricted communities such as senior housing. This federal exemption, known as the Housing for Older Persons Exemption, can apply to 55+ or even 62+ communities that meet the requirements.
  • Owner Occupied Properties – if an owner lives in one of the units of a single-family property, it has 2 dwellings or less and the owner represents themselves during the leasing process, then they are exempt from abiding by FHA laws under the “Mrs. Murphy” exemption. However, race can never be a deciding factor (per the Civil Rights Act of 1866) and there cannot be any discriminatory advertisements to discourage applicants of a certain group.
  • Religious Organizations – religion can be used as a basis for giving preference to certain applicants for property that is owned, operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that does not rent for commercial purposes. However, other protected classes may not be the basis for making a decision as a result of this exemption. 42 U.S. Code § 3607
  • Private Clubs – private clubs that operate without public access or commercial intent may provide preferential treatment of applications for lodgings owned or operated by the club. 42 U.S. Code § 3607

Before a landlord can run a credit check based on the prospective tenant’s information on the submitted rental application, the Federal Credit Reporting Act requires that written consent must be given by the applicant. This written consent can be given via a statement of such and signature on the rental application form itself, or via a separate consent form (such as this one).

Processing a Rental Application

The next step in the tenant screening process is to use the information on the rental application form to conduct a background check:

  • Credit Check – subject to the tenant’s written consent, a credit check will either provide a simpler “pass/fail” report, or a full credit report including the tenant’s credit score and information about their income, employment, past addresses, credit inquiries and more.
  • Eviction Check – an eviction check aims to show the tenant’s history of eviction filings or judgments against them at any point in the last 7 years.
  • Criminal History Check – a criminal history check aims to show any records involving the tenant in state court criminal records or in databases such as the national sex offender public registry.

Michigan eviction records are publicly accessible online by accessing the court’s case search system, where you can discover any instances of unlawful detainer/eviction that have been recorded.

To access the eviction records:

  • Go to Michigan Courts Case Search.
  • Select the tab to search by Party Name.
  • Enter the potential tenant’s name and other information you may have to view any existing records.
  • Select the case number to be taken to the docket sheet, which contains details of the case.
  • If documents are available for viewing, they will be linked in pdf format in red text.

Adverse Action Notices

If you acquire a consumer report for an applicant (i.e., credit, eviction or criminal history) and take an “adverse action” against them such as any of the following:

  • Rejecting the applicant
  • Requiring a co-signer (when they didn’t include one before)
  • Requiring a larger security deposit
  • Requiring higher rent

Then you are legally required to provide the tenant with a notice letter that includes certain details, known as an “adverse action notice”. This is required even if the consumer report’s information wasn’t the primary reason for the action.

The notice must include details about the consumer reporting agency, an explanation that they didn’t take the adverse action themselves (and can’t explain why it was made) and a statement on the applicant’s right to a copy of the report and to dispute its contents within 60 days. Additionally, when rejecting an applicant, it’s recommended to specify the reason (but not legally required).

For an example, see this tenant rejection letter template.