Michigan’s depressed real estate market has caused many home sellers to consider becoming a landlord and renting their homes to tenants instead of trying to sell them. Before jumping into the role of a landlord, one needs to be aware that Michigan law is designed to protect tenants (who in the eyes of the law have less bargaining power than a landlord).
A lease of residential property must meet strict legal requirements to be enforceable. The lease must include specific warnings to the tenant and the law even requires how large the print must be for these warnings. A landlord is legally limited on the amount of security deposit he can require and how to determine if he gets to keep the security deposit. (The law presumes the deposit belongs to the tenant until the landlord proves otherwise.) A violation of any one of these requirements could make the entire lease unenforceable – a fact that is usually discovered when the landlord tries to evict a tenant who is late paying his rent.
There are also specific steps that must be followed regarding how to evict a tenant who has not paid his rent. By law, these steps must be followed. It is illegal for a landlord to resort to “self help” and put a tenant or his possessions at the curb without a court order.
If you are considering becoming a landlord, don’t go about it alone. Meet with a legal expert and have a professional assist you in drafting your lease and other legal documentation. It will be time well spent now, and can potentially save you time, frustration and money in the future.