Michigan landlords should be aware that on October 5, 2010, the Michigan legislature enacted a new law to protect victims of domestic assault or stalking. The new law requires a landlord to release a tenant from a lease if there is a threat of domestic violence.

Help Keep Your Tenants Safe

In order to be released from the lease, the tenant must send a notice to the landlord by certified mail. The notice must include a statement that the tenant or her child has a reasonable apprehension of present danger from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. This notice requirement can be satisfied by the tenant providing a copy of a valid personal protection order, probation order, policy report or other report from a third party agency. The tenant is then released from the obligation to pay rent no later than the first day of the second month that rent is due after the notice is given.

The tenant then must actually vacate the premises in order to be released from the rental obligation. In addition, the release does not apply to the security deposit or to prepaid amounts, such as the first and last months’ rent. Those amounts will be handled as set forth in the lease.

Update Your Documentation!

Landlords need to update their lease forms to reflect this new information. The new law also requires that a rental agreement contain a provision advising the tenant of the rights under the new law. In the alternative, the landlord is required to post a written notice in its office or to deliver the written notice directly to the tenant.

Questions? Contact us for a free consultation!