MAINTAINING RENTAL PROPERTY: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
It is in your best interest to be a good tenant if you plan on creating a happy and healthy home for yourself while in a property rental agreement. Knowing when you are responsible for maintenance and repairs and starting a discussion with your landlord can help with that. Landlords have obligations held by Michigan law to be responsible in addressing many types of rental property needs.
Repair and maintenance problems continue to rank high amongst the types of complaints from both tenants and landlords. Most repair and maintenance issues are small cosmetic requests and not urgent, but there are times when problems are more serious and can pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of tenants. It is up to both parties to be aware of the problems and find a solution to fix the issue at hand.
There are three types of maintenance problems tenants and landlords deal with:
1. EMERGENCIES: These require action within 24 hours and pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of the occupants. Some examples of emergencies include a gas leak, flooding, defective furnace, or major roof damage.
2. MAJOR PROBLEMS: These affect the quality of the residential environment, but not to the degree that the life of the occupant is immediately endangered. Major problems could include a defective water heater, clogged drain, broken appliance, or a heating problem in part of a house.
3. MINOR PROBLEMS: These issues fall into the nuisance category and for example could be defective lighting, broken locks, dripping faucets, leaky windows, household pests, peeling paint and wallpaper.
The Michigan Rental Property Owners Association has outlined this basic list of maintenance and repair responsibilities of the landlord and tenant regarding maintenance and repair.
- To provide a safe and habitable dwelling;
- Comply with state and local housing codes, where applicable;
- Carry out repairs that are not the fault of the tenant
Maintenance issues can especially become a problem if a tenant becomes injured on the rental property. A landlord could be liable for personal injury to the tenant
The following tenant responsibilities are either explicitly or indirectly implied within Michigan law:
- Keep the rented premises in a safe and sanitary condition;
- Promptly notify the landlord of maintenance problems;
- Exterminate insects—if they were not there when tenant took possession;
- Maintain any part of the dwelling, grounds, appliances, equipment, utilities as mutually agreed to in a lease;
- Leave the rented premises in good condition [normal wear and tear excepted];
- Pay for any damages caused by the tenant or their guests.
- Local housing code enforcement departments may hold the tenant responsible for housekeeping. Landlords will ultimately be forced clean the rental unit themselves and to evict the tenant with poor housekeeping habits if the tenant doesn’t comply.
In addition to state law requirements, check with the local city or county government code enforcement office for additional standards imposed on landlords to maintain rental properties.
It’s a landlord’s duty to exercise reasonable care and protect tenants from known or discoverable hazards. If you have been injured because of your landlord’s negligence, the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg can help. Please call Lee Free and speak to our attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form.