What Repairs Are Michigan Landlords Required to Make?

To be a successful landlord in Michigan, it’s important to keep your properties maintained and up-to-date on tenant laws and property codes. There are laws governing discrimination, the handling of security deposits, and eviction procedures. But what we will cover here are the various items you are required to provide and repairs you are responsible for maintaining.

Basic landlord responsibilities

According to Michigan state law, landlords are required to keep their rental properties fit for use (inhabitable), in “reasonable repair,” and in “compliance with the health and safety laws.” When there are problems that arise between tenants and landlords, they are often because of the lack of clarity in the “reasonable repair” clause. Because the law does not specify what is considered reasonable, it sometimes falls into the hands of a judge or jury to decide what it means. But common sense usually prevails. However, in most states, inhabitable conditions include heat, running hot water, a non-toxic environment, and a stable, leak-free structure. This would mean that roofs and foundational issues must always be addressed. It also means that mold or busted hot water heaters, and leaking windows are important and urgent repairs to make.

Lead paint requirements

The hazards of lead paint in older houses are widely-known. As such, the law requires property owners of houses built before 1978 to disclose certain information. The laws are detailed in the government-made pamphlet titled, “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.” The landlords must also give their tenants the right to renovate in a way that addresses the situation if they feel their landlord has not taken care of it properly. But the state also requires landlords to assess their properties for lead every couple of years to keep their eligibility status to rent their properties. The only exceptions are for no-bedroom efficiencies, commercial properties, and properties that receive lead-free certification by an accredited inspector.  

Categories of repairs

Under Michigan law, all maintenance problems fall into one of three categories: emergencies, major problems, or minor problems. Emergency repairs would be things like flooding, gas leaks, or defective wiring. In other words, anything deemed a safety hazard. These types of issues must be addressed within 24 hours. Major problems would be things that decrease the quality of life on the property. This might be clogged drains or defective heating vents. And minor problems are what you might consider nuisances. Things like pests or peeling linoleum might fall in this category.

Local requirements

Other codes and rules may be enforced on certain properties. For example, some neighborhoods have agreements with their property owners and tenants under local homeowners associations. But other issues might include a city law that all homes must have smoke detectors or that they must follow certain recycling rules. It’s important for landlords to check all state, local, and federal ordinances before creating rental agreements.

Exceptions

There are some caveats to the landlord tenant laws in Michigan. One is that if the tenant causes the damage, either willingly or because of irresponsible behavior. Another is if the landlord and renter come to a contractual agreement that makes the tenant responsible for certain repairs. A good way to avoid renting to irresponsible tenants is to do thorough background checks. There are even sites that will allow you to do a tenant background check free. Also keep in mind that while a landlord is responsible for making sure their property is habitable and in reasonable condition when a renter moves in, he or she is not responsible for checking the property for defects. Renters bear the responsibility of informing their landlords of necessary repairs the landlord wouldn’t otherwise know about.