When you rent an apartment or home, your landlord is expected to provide a safe and livable environment. However, some landlords may shirk this duty in a way that causes a tenant to suffer harm. If you are injured as a result of a landlord’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. To help protect your rights, here is an overview of a landlord’s responsibilities for tenant safety in Michigan.
Michigan law requires landlords to ensure rental premises are fit for their intended use and kept in reasonable repair. This principle is also known as an “implied warranty of habitability,” which means this obligation is understood even if it isn’t spelled out in the lease.
In a multi-unit development, such as an apartment building or complex, the landlord is typically responsible for certain aspects of the individual apartments as well as common areas such as sidewalks, lobbies, clubhouses, pool areas and laundry rooms.
Here are some of the things a landlord is responsible for:
Conversely, tenants are usually responsible for the conditions inside their own units. Therefore, if a guest trips and falls on a loose area rug or misplaced electrical cord, the tenant, rather than the landlord, could be held responsible.
However, an exception might apply if a tenant knows about a dangerous condition involving a structural issue inside the apartment, such as a broken floorboard, and fails to report it or request a repair. In that case, the tenant could be responsible if a visitor is injured as a result of the hazard, providing the landlord was unaware of the problem.
Recommended Reading: Understanding Premises Liability Law
Under Michigan law, landlords are required to disclose hidden issues that could cause illness or injury. Examples include informing tenants that a building has asbestos insulation, which could have deadly consequences.
There are also federal laws requiring landlords to disclose the existence of lead-based paint on the property. Landlords who fail to do this may have to pay significant fines. Furthermore, if a tenant or child becomes ill as a result of the lead, the landlord could be found liable in the event of a lawsuit.
However, landlords have to do more than simply disclose certain issues. They are also required to correct any conditions that threaten tenant safety or affect the habitability of the premises. Warning a tenant about a faulty heating system or leaky roof is not sufficient. The landlord must then take steps to remedy the problem, even if that means replacing a furnace or re-shingling the roof.
Michigan landlord tenant laws require landlords to make repairs in a timely manner once they are notified of the problem. If a landlord fails to do this, tenants are allowed to exercise certain options. However, tenants must first notify the landlord of the problem in writing and allow a reasonable amount of time to fix it.
If a landlord fails to respond in a timely manner, a tenant may withhold rent or hire someone to make the repairs and deduct the cost from their rent.
To legally withhold rent, the tenant must inform the landlord in writing that they are taking this action and put the rent money in a designated escrow account.
To have repairs made on their own, tenants must first obtain a written estimate and send it to the landlord, a tenant may opt to pay for the necessary repairs and deduct the cost from the rent. As always, keep copies of all correspondence.
Additionally, tenants may report issues that affect their health or safety to the local health department.
No. In Michigan, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant who requests repairs or complains about unsafe conditions. This includes raising the rent or starting eviction proceedings.
To prevent such problems, always request repairs in writing (or email) and keep a record of all communication between you and your landlord.
Mold is caused by moisture – leaking pipes, windows and roofs are some of the major culprits. Liability is determined according to which party is responsible for the mold. For example, if a landlord fails to fix leaks, and the moisture causes mold to grow, the landlord could be found liable.
However, in order to receive compensation, the tenant would have to suffer damages, such a mold-related health condition. In addition, the plaintiff has to prove that the landlord knew (or should have known) about the mold and failed to remove it in a reasonable amount of time.
Nevertheless, a landlord can avoid liability if it can be shown that the tenant caused the mold to grow. Examples include poor housekeeping or allowing moisture to accumulate in bathrooms or other humid areas by failing to use a vent fan.
Michigan landlord tenant laws are complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
For more information or to get your case started, contact The Sam Bernstein Law Firm or 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation remote consultation from the safety of your home.
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