This report serves as a guide for renters and tenants in navigating their rights when renting a home or unit. It includes information about rental leases and policies, eviction rules and complaints, landlord responsibilities and expectations, tenant responsibilities, and financial and legal assistance in Michigan.
Tenants are living in these homes and buildings; therefore, if they are aware of their rights, they can help hold landlords accountable and keep neighborhoods and communities safe. Keeping tenants informed is essential to prepare them against evictions, falling into debt, dealing with bad landlords, and helping them advocate for themselves and their communities.
DID YOU KNOW?
Each year, Michigan landlords file approximately 200,000 eviction cases and around 40,000 Michigan households lose their homes as a result of court-ordered evictions.
In 2017, there were approximately 1,100,000 rental households in Michigan—that’s 29% of all households. In Detroit, renters are estimated to outnumber homeowners.
According to the U.S. census data, nearly 43% of Michigan tenants cannot pay rent and are at risk of eviction.
With a rise in evictions in Southeast Michigan and other urban communities, it is necessary that tenants are well-equipped and informed about their rights and that they understand how to exercise the rights granted to them in Michigan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families and individuals have faced even more challenges with affording and paying rent. Although some policies, such as the eviction moratorium, have provided eviction protections and extended financial relief – it is only temporary.
As affordable rental homes diminish, the cost of housing increases rapidly, poverty continues to strike communities, and disparities and discrimination in housing availability are common, the state of Michigan faces a housing crisis with tenants at the center. Today, landlords have access to a lot of information and resources to sustain their rights and legal impositions. However, tenants, especially those who are low-income and marginalized, are often left underrepresented with a lack of awareness or information.
as a Tenant
⧠ Are you a tenant?
⧠ Do you have family or friends who are tenants?
⧠ Continue reading to know your rights!
If you currently rent your home, then you are a tenant. You have the right to live in a habitable home and exercise the rights and protections that are granted to you. When you are in the process of searching for a home to rent, it is important that you are aware of any fees and costs, as well as knowing if it is affordable for you before signing a lease and making the decision to live there.⁴
8 Lease Rules
You Need to Know
What Happens if a Landlord Files an Eviction Complaint?
You Signed a Lease, Now What?
Plus a Move-in Checklist
as a Tenant
Keep your home in good condition, and try not to damage your home. If any damages occur, you will be responsible for the costs of damage repairs that you have caused.
Maintain your home to the best of your ability, and keep track of your receipts for all rent and bills that you pay.
Before making changes to your home (such as updating the paint color), check your lease in case you need permission from your landlord.
Your Responsibilities as a Tenant
FINANCIAL & LEGAL RESOURCES FOR TENANTS
CERA provides support to renters who have incomes less than 80% of the Area Median Income
This program can help you pay back rent and utility payments.
To see if you qualify for assistance and apply, go to this site: ceraapp.michigan.gov
The CDC issued a temporary eviction moratorium that is currently effective through June 30, 2021. It protects renters from eviction and/or nonpayment of rent under certain circumstances:
You received economic impact payment under CARES Act.
You are not required to report any income in 2019 to IRS.
You are expected to make $99,000 or less in 2021 or $198,000 or less if you
file taxes jointly.
If you qualify, you must provide a signed declaration to your landlord before eviction begins:
If your landlord is still moving forward with an eviction, please seek legal aid.
Keep in mind that this moratorium does not forgive the rent owed!
You must still pay as much as possible towards your rent .
By June 30, 2021, you will have to pay any unpaid rent due at that time.
Do not give your landlord the CDC Declaration without first applying to government agencies for help with rent.
Consider applying for State Emergency Relief (SER) from MDHHS. This program supports people who need money for an emergency, such as preventing an eviction, stopping a shutoff, and other emergencies.
You can apply on their website: mibridges.michigan.gov/access.
OR visit your local MDHHS office!
Find rental assistance programs in Michigan based on your city.
Go to rentassistance.us/st/michigan, click on the city that you live in, and look through the different organizations, departments, and programs available in your community.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides rental assistance in Michigan.
- Including tools to locate subsidized apartments, public housing vouchers, resources for utility bills, and low-income housing tax credit units.
Go to: hud.gov/states/michigan/renting
Housing-related Organizations & Nonprofits
Washtenaw Housing Alliance (WHA)
A coalition of over 30 nonprofit and government entities committed to ending homelessness in the Washtenaw community.
WHA works with landlords in the area to help get their units filled up
The Landlord Guarantee Fund offers financial incentives and coverage for unit damages or vacancy and helps clients pay rent by offering resources.
Learn more at: www.whalliance.org
Lansing Tenants Union
A group of tenants representing people throughout Lansing and East Lansing. Learn more at: www.lansingtenantsunion.org/what-is-ltu
Fair Housing Centers
The Fair Housing Centers across Michigan ensure that everyone has equal opportunity in housing by working to prevent housing discrimination and uphold housing rights for tenants in Michigan. Learn more at:
Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit: www.fairhousingdetroit.org
Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan: www.fhcmichigan.org
Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan: www.fhcswm.org
Fair Housing Center of West Michigan: www.fhcwm.org
Legal Services of Eastern Michigan Fair Housing Center: www.lsem-mi.org
Legal Services of South Central Michigan
Provides free legal advice and representation to low-income families and individuals in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw Counties. Learn more at: www.lsscm.org
Builds awareness about housing solutions and provides housing assistance resources in Northwest Michigan. Learn more at: www.housingnorth.org
Michigan Legal Help Community Services Toolkit
Select the Michigan county that you live in, and you will have access to various housing community services and resources in your county. Learn more at: www.michiganlegalhelp.org/organizations-courts/community-services
Signup to join Detroit Action’s membership and organize around affordable housing with them in the city of Detroit. Learn more at: www.secure.everyaction.com/9ynSuLIQh02N7ROx2at4_A2
Detroit Eviction Defense
A coalition of homeowners, tenants, union members, advocates, and allied groups fighting against foreclosure and eviction. They provide alternative legal strategies and non-profit finance to support and protect families. Learn more at: www.detroitevictiondefense.org
City of Detroit Eviction, Rent, and Utility Payment Help
This source provides a few options for tenants facing eviction or behind on rent. Learn more at: www.detroitmi.gov/departments/housing-and-revitalization-department/eviction-rent-and-utility-payment-help-available
United Community Housing Coalition
This coalition provides services to help families with foreclosure prevention, eviction prevention, and tenant support. Learn more at: www.uchcdetroit.org/contact
CSI Support and Development
Located in Warren, Michigan, the mission of CSI Support & Development is to provide affordable senior housing communities. Learn more at: www.csi.coop/en
Interested in taking action? Email us to join our Housing Coalition! Our statewide housing coalition is a group of organizations, organizers, researchers, and activists across the state of Michigan working to accomplish local and statewide housing policies and solutions to address the existing housing crisis.
Do you have any questions, concerns, or need help addressing additional housing assistance needs?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodspeed, R., & Schaafsma, J. (2020, May). Michigan’s Eviction Crisis.
Winowiecki, E. (n.d.). Affordable housing is ‘out of reach’ for many Michigan renters, study says. Michigan Radio.
Barmore, J., & Christine MacDonald. (2020, August 3). Eviction risk ramps up for tenants in arrears outside Detroit. The Detroit News.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities. Michigan Legal Help. (2020, November 30).
What’s in a Lease? Michigan Legal Help. (2020, December 3).
Stewart, M. (2021, March 2). Required Landlord Disclosures. www.nolo.com.
O’Connell, A. (2021, February 1). Michigan Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines. www.nolo.com.
Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start? Michigan Legal Help. (2020, September 14).
Going to Court in an Eviction Case. Michigan Legal Help. (2020, September 14).
White, M. (2019, April 4). A Move-In, Move-Out Checklist for Landlords & Tenants. Moving.com.
COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA). MSHDA – COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA). (n.d.).
CDC Eviction Moratorium: Information and Forms for Tenants. Michigan Legal Help. (2021, April 8).
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