Please remember that there is a legal and proper method for a tenant or landlord to terminate a lease and/or make the landlord or tenant fulfill his/her end of the lease. If the written lease specifies a method for terminating the lease, the tenant or landlord should follow that procedure. In the absence of such a provision, the tenant should give written notice of any intent to vacate the premises. The notice should be given at the end of a rent period and should be equal in time to at least one rent period.
Note that the landlord in the lease has promised (a covenant) that all common areas are fit for the use intended (to be used as a residence), that the premises will be kept in reasonable repair, and that the premises will be kept in compliance with applicable state and local health and safety laws except when the disrepair or violation is caused by the tenant's willful or irresponsible conduct or lack of conduct. Legally the landlord may enter the leased premises to inspect and repair at reasonable intervals, with the consent of the tenant. The landlord and tenant should respect each other's rights and cooperate because each right held by one party carries with it a responsibility.
To be safe, records should be kept. They include a copy of the lease agreement, rent receipts, canceled checks, paid utility bills, inventory checklists, and communications including registered or certified mail receipts. If it pertains to the lease agreement and it's written, keep it.
Be familiar with all of your obligations as a tenant, and be sure your roommates are also well-informed. Find out if your landlord's insurance covers any of your property that may be damaged by fire, theft, or flood. Get to know your landlord and/or manager before problems arise. If you do not know who your landlord is, find out. It is in this way that landlord/tenant communication breakdowns are kept at a minimum. Hopefully, then, you will not need many of the things referenced above.
Landlord & Tenant Relationships Act 348 of 1972
An act to regulate relationships between landlords and tenants relative to rental agreements for rental units; to regulate the payment, repayment, use, and investment of security deposits; to provide for commencement and termination inventories of rental units; to provide for termination arrangements relative to rental units; to provide for legal remedies, and to provide penalties. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
The People of the State of Michigan Enact
Section 1. As Used in This Act:
(a) "Rental unit" means a structure or part thereof used as a home, residence, or sleeping unit by a single person or household unit, or any grounds, or other facilities or area promised for the use of a residential tenant and includes, but without limitation, apartment units, boarding houses, rooming houses, mobile home spaces, and single and 2-family dwellings.
(b) "Rental agreement" means all agreements which establish or modify the terms, conditions, rules, regulations, or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a rental unit.
(c) "Landlord" means the owner, lessor, or sublessor of the rental unit or the property of which it is a part and, in addition, means a person authorized to exercise any aspect of the management of the premises, including a person who, directly or indirectly, acts as a rental agent, receives rent or any part thereof, other than as a bona fide purchaser, and who has no obligation to deliver the whole of such receipts to another person.
(d) "Tenant" means any person who occupies a rental unit for residential purposes with the landlord's consent for an agreed upon consideration.
(e) "Security deposit" means a deposit, in any amount, paid by the tenant to the landlord or his or her agent to be held for the term of the rental agreement, or any part thereof, and includes any required prepayment of rent other than the first full rental period of the lease agreement; any sum required to be paid as rent in any rental period in excess of the average rent for the term; and any other amount of money or property returnable to the tenant on condition of return of the rental unit by the tenant in condition as required by the rental agreement. Security deposit does not include either of the following:
(i) An amount paid for an option to purchase, pursuant to a lease with option to purchase, unless it is shown the intent was to evade this act.
(ii) An amount paid as a subscription for or purchase of a membership in a cooperative housing association incorporated under the laws of this state. As used in this subparagraph, "cooperative housing association" means a consumer cooperative that provides dwelling units to its members. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973 - Am. 1984, Act 297, Imd. Effective December 21, 1984.
554.602 Security Deposit; Amount
Section 2. A landlord may require a security deposit for each rental unit. A security deposit shall be required and maintained in accordance with the terms of this act and shall not exceed 1 1/2 months' rent. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.603 Security Deposit; Notice
Section 3. A landlord shall not require a security deposit unless he notifies the tenant no later than 14 days from the date a tenant assumes possession in a written instrument of the landlord's name and address for receipt of communications under this act, the name and address of the financial institution or surety required by section 4 and the tenant's obligation to provide in writing a forwarding mailing address to the landlord within 4 days after termination of. occupancy. The notice shall include the following statement in 12 point boldface type which is at least 4 points larger than the body of the notice or lease agreement: "You must notify your landlord in writing within 4 days after you move of a forwarding address where you can be reached and where you will receive mail; otherwise your landlord shall be relieved of sending you an itemized list of damages and the penalties adherent to that failure." Failure to provide the information relieves the tenant of his obligation relative to notification of the landlord of his forwarding mailing address. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.604 Security Deposit, Disposition; Bond
Section 4. (1) The security deposit shall be deposited in a regulated financial institution. A landlord may use the moneys so deposited for any purposes he desires if he deposits with the secretary of state a cash bond or surety bond written by a surety company licensed to do business in this state and acceptable to the attorney general to secure the entire deposits up to $50,000 and 25% of any amount exceeding $50,000. The attorney general may find a bond unacceptable based only upon reasonable criteria relating to the sufficiency of the bond, and shall notify the landlord in writing of his reasons for the unacceptability of the bond.
(2) The bond shall be for the benefit of persons making security deposits with the landlord. A person for whose benefit the bond is written or his legal representative may bring an action in the district, common pleas or municipal court where the landlord resides or does business for collection on the bond. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.605 Security Deposit as Property of Tenant
Section 5. For the purposes of this act and any litigation arising thereunder, the security deposit is considered the lawful property of the tenant until the landlord establishes a right to the deposit or portions thereof as long as the bond provision is fulfilled, the landlord may use this fund for any purposes he desires. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.606 Waiving Requirements of Act
Section 6. The requirements of this act may not be waived by the parties to a rental agreement except as specifically provided herein. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.607 Security Deposit; Permissible Uses
Section 7. A security deposit may be used only for the following purposes:
(a) Reimburse the landlord for actual damages to the rental unit or any ancillary facility that are the direct result of conduct not reasonably expected in the normal course of habitation of a dwelling.
(b) Pay the landlord for all rent in arrearage under the rental agreement, rent due for premature termination of the rental agreement by the tenant and for utility bills not paid by the tenant. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
554.608 Inventory Checklists.
Section 8. (1) The landlord shall make use of inventory checklists both at the commencement and termination of occupancy for each rental unit which detail the condition of the rental unit for which a security deposit is required.
(2) At the commencement of the lease, the landlord shall furnish the tenant 2 blank copies of a commencement inventory checklist, which form shall be identical to the form used for the termination inventory checklist. The checklist shall include all items in the rental unit owned by the landlord including, but not limited to, carpeting, draperies, appliances, windows, furniture, walls, closets, shelves, paint, doors, plumbing fixtures and electrical fixtures.
(3) Unless the landlord and tenant agree to complete their inventory checklist within a shorter period, the tenant shall review the checklist, note the condition of the property, and return 1 copy of the checklist to the landlord within 7 days after receiving possession of the premises.
(4) The checklist shall contain the following notice in 12 point boldface type at the top of the first page: "You should complete this checklist, noting the condition of the rental property, and return it to the landlord within 7 days after obtaining possession of the rental unit. You are also entitled to request and receive a copy of the last termination inventory checklist which shows what claims were chargeable to the last prior tenants.".
(5) At the termination of the occupancy, the landlord shall complete a termination inventory checklist listing all the damages he claims were caused by the tenant. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Itemized list of damages; check or money order; contents of notice of damages. Sec. 9. In case of damage to the rental unit or other obligation against the security deposit, the landlord shall mail to the tenant, within 30 days after the termination of occupancy, an itemized list of damages claimed for which the security deposit may be used as provided in section 7, including the estimated cost of repair of each property damaged item and the amounts and bases on which he intends to assess the tenant. The list shall be accompanied by a check or money order for the difference between the damages claimed and the amount of the security deposit held by the landlord and shall not include any damages that were claimed on a previous termination inventory checklist prior to the tenant's occupancy of the rental unit. The notice of damages shall include the following statement in 12 point boldface type which shall be at least 4 points larger than the body of the notice: "You must respond to this notice by mail within 7 days after receipt of same, otherwise you will forfeit the amount claimed for damages. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Effect of noncompliance with notice of damages requirement Sec. 10. Failure by the landlord to comply with the notice of damages requirement within the 30 days after the termination of occupancy, constitutes agreement by the landlord that no damages are due and he shall remit to the tenant immediately the full security deposit. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Notice of forwarding address; effect of noncompliance. Sec. 11. The tenant shall notify the landlord in writing at the address given under section 4 within 4 days after the termination of his occupancy of an address at which communications pursuant to this act may be received. Failure to comply with this requirement relieves the landlord of the requirement of notice of damages but does not prejudice a tenant's subsequent claim for the security deposit. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Response to notice of damages. Sec. 12. If a landlord claims damages to a rental unit and gives notice of damages as required, the tenant upon receipt of the list of damages shall respond by ordinary mail to the address provided by the landlord as required by section 3 within 7 days, indicating in detail his agreement or disagreement to the damage charges listed. For the purposes of this section, the date of mailing shall be considered the date of the tenant's response. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Action for damages; retention of security deposit; waiver. Sec. 13. (1) Within 45 days after the termination of the occupancy and not thereafter the landlord may commence an action in a court of competent jurisdiction for a money judgment for damages which he has claimed or in lieu thereof return the balance of the security deposit held by him to the tenant or any amount mutually agreed upon in writing by the parties. A landlord shall not be entitled to retain any portion of a security deposit for damages claimed unless he has first obtained a money judgment for the disputed amount or filed with the court satisfactory proof of an inability to obtain service on the tenant or unless:
(a) The tenant has failed to provide a forwarding address as required by section 11.
(b) The tenant has failed to respond to the notice of damages as required by section 12.
(c) The parties have agreed in writing to the disposition of the balance of the deposit claimed by the landlord.
(d) The amount claimed is entirely based upon accrued and unpaid rent equal to the actual rent for any full rental period or portion thereof during which the tenant has had actual or constructive possession of the premises.
This section does not prejudice a landlord's right to retain any security deposit funds as satisfaction or partial satisfaction of a money judgment obtained pursuant to summary proceedings filed pursuant to chapter 57 of Act Number 236 of the Public Acts of 1961, as amended, being sections 600.5701 to 600.5759 of the Compiled Laws of 1948 or other proceedings at law. Failure of the landlord to comply fully with this section constitutes waiver of all claimed damages and makes him liable to the tenant for double the amount of the security deposit retained. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Termination of landlord's interest; liability for security deposit. Sec. 14. Upon termination of a landlord's interest in a rental unit whether by sale, assignment, death, appointment of receiver or otherwise, the landlord or his agent is liable with respect to the security deposit, until the occurrence of any of the following:
(a) Transfer of the deposit to the landlord's successor in interest and written notification to the tenant by ordinary mail of the transfer and of the successor's name and address.
(b) Compliance with section 4 by the successor in interest.
(c) Return of the security deposit to the tenant. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Action to enforce act. Sec. 15. The attorney general or any affected individual may bring an action to enforce this act in a court of competent jurisdiction in the county where the defendant resides or does business. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Effective date and applicability of act Sec. 16. This act takes effect April 1, 1973 and applies only to security deposits held pursuant to leases entered into, renewed or renegotiated after April 1, 1973. History 1972, Act 348, Effective April 1, 1973
Some forms have been prepared and approved by the Michigan State Court Administrator's Office and are available, at a nominal fee, from local district courts, various landlord or tenant associations or online.