Landlords and Residential Lease Agreements (Michigan)

By Matthew A. Quick Landlords leasing residential premises must be aware of language required in lease agreements by the Michigan Truth in Renting Act, MCL 554.631, et seq., when accepting security or otherwise. For a closer look at the security procedure for Michigan, please click here.

The following provisions are void if contained in a lease agreement; and could terminate the tenancy and expose the Landlord to liability for damages (MCL 554.633): 1. A provision that waives or alters a remedy available to the parties when the premises are in a condition that violates the covenants of fitness and habitability (MCL 554.139). 2. A provision that the parties waive a right established by MCL 554.601 to 554.616, which regulates security deposits. 3. A provision that excludes or discriminates against a person in violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (MCL 37.2101 to MCL 37.2804) or the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (MCL 37.1101 to MCL 37.1607). 4. A provision that provides for a confession of judgment by a party. 5. A provision that exculpates the Landlord from liability for the Landlord's failure to perform, or negligent performance of, a duty imposed by law. This subdivision does not apply to a provision that releases a party from liability arising from loss, damage, or injury caused by fire or other casualty for which insurance is carried by the other party, under a policy that permits waiver of liability and waives the insurer's rights of subrogation, to the extent of any recovery by the insured party under the policy. 6. A provision that waives or alters a party's right to demand a trial by jury or any other right of notice or procedure required by law in a judicial proceeding arising under the lease agreement. 7. A provision that provides a party is liable for legal costs or attorney's fees incurred by another party, in connection with a dispute arising under the rental agreement, in excess of costs or fees specifically permitted by statute. 8. A provision that provides for the acquisition by the Landlord of a security interest in any personal property of the Tenant to assure payment of rent or other charges arising under the lease agreement, except as specifically allowed by law. 9. A provision that provides rental payments may be accelerated if the lease agreement is breached by the Tenant, unless the provision also includes a statement that the Tenant may not be liable for the total accelerated amount because of the Landlord's obligation to minimize damages, and that either party may have a court determine the actual amount owed, if any. 10. A provision that waives or alters a party's rights with respect to possession or eviction proceedings provided in MCL 600.2918, or with respect to summary proceedings to recover possession as provided in MCL 600.5701 to MCL 600.5759. 11. A provision that releases a party from a duty to mitigate damages. 12. A provision that provides a Landlord may alter a provision of the lease agreement after its commencement without the written consent of the Tenant, or, in the case of a lease agreement between a consumer cooperative that provides housing and a member of the consumer cooperative, without the approval of the board of directors of the cooperative or other appropriate body elected by members who are also Tenants of the cooperative, except that an agreement may provide for the following types of adjustments to be made upon written notice of not less than 30 days: (i) Changes required by federal, state, or local law or rule or regulation; (ii) Changes in rules relating to the property that are required to protect the physical health, safety, or peaceful enjoyment of Tenants and guests; (iii) Changes in the amount of rental payments to cover additional costs in operating the rental premises incurred by the Landlord because of increases in ad valorem property taxes, charges for the electricity, heating fuel, water, or sanitary sewer services consumed at the property, or increases in premiums paid for liability, fire, or worker compensation insurance. 13. A provision that violates the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL 445.901 to MCL 445.922). 14. A provision that requires the Tenant give the Landlord a power of attorney. 15. Any other clause or provision that, at least 90 days before the execution of the lease agreement, has been prohibited by statute or declared unenforceable by a published decision of the Supreme Court of Michigan or the United States Supreme Court relating to the law of the State of Michigan.

If a lease agreement does not contain the following provisions it could be terminated and the Landlord could be exposed to liability (MCL 554.634): 1. The name and address at which the Landlord can receive notice. 2. In a prominent place in type not smaller than the size of 12-point type, or in legible print with letters not smaller than 1/8 inch, a notice in substantially the following form: "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."

If a current lease agreement contains a prohibited provision or does not contain a mandatory provision, the lease agreement could be cured by notice to the Tenants (MCL 554.635).

A lease agreement shall provide that a Tenant who has occupied a rental unit for more than thirteen (13) months may terminate a lease by a sixty (60) day written notice to the Landlord if either of the following occurs: (a) The Tenant becomes eligible during the lease term to take possession of a subsidized rental unit in senior citizen housing and provides the Landlord with written proof of that eligibility; (b) The Tenant becomes incapable during the lease term of living independently, as certified by a physician in a notarized statement (MCL 554.601a).

To require security, a Landlord, within fourteen (14) days from the date a Tenant takes possession of the premises, must provide written notice of the Landlord's name and address for receipt of communications, the name and address of the financial institution or surety and the Tenant's obligation to provide in writing a forwarding mailing address to the Landlord within four (4) days after termination of occupancy. The notice shall include the following statement in 12-point boldface type which is at least 4-points larger than the body of the notice or lease agreement: "You must notify your landlord in writing within 4 days after you move of a forwarding address where you can be reached and where you will receive mail; otherwise your landlord shall be relieved of sending you an itemized list of damages and the penalties adherent to that failure." Failure to provide the information relieves the Tenant of his obligation relative to notification of the Landlord of his forwarding mailing address (MCL 554.603).

The checklist shall contain the following notice in 12-point boldface type at the top of the first page (if the checklist is incorporated into the lease agreement, then the lease agreement shall contain the following): "You should complete this checklist, noting the condition of the rental property, and return it to the landlord within 7 days after obtaining possession of the rental unit. You are also entitled to request and receive a copy of the last termination inventory checklist which shows what claims were chargeable to the last prior tenants" (MCL 554.608).