Every tenant expects that their apartment, townhouse, or other kind of rental property is livable. This is not only an expectation, but also a legal right. Deemed the implied warranty of habitability, this legal doctrine determines what kinds of repairs and routine maintenance a landlord is responsible for in order to make a property livable. It is not a doctrine that is specific to Michigan, but Michigan does have its own unique rules and regulations.
What does the implied warranty of habitability cover?
Under Michigan law, the implied warranty of habitability states that it is a landlord’s responsibility to make a rental property livable. But what exactly does that mean? Typically, there are three factors:
- The property and all common areas are fit for their intended use
- The rental property is kept in reasonable repair during the term of the lease
- The property stays up to date with all health and safety regulations
What does “reasonable repair” mean?
The term “reasonable repair” is not only vague, but also subjective. While some repairs like a defective refrigerator or a broken heater are certainly reasonable, other repairs like chipped paint or a leaky faucet may fall into a gray area. Unfortunately, the term “reasonable repair” is also not one that is defined by law. In other words, the only way to find out if a repair is “reasonable” would be to go to court and let a judge or jury decide.
Beware of “repair and deduct”
If a landlord does not hold up to the standards of implied warranty, then a tenant has a right to “repair and deduct.” This means that in Michigan, a tenant can withhold their rent until a landlord takes care of needed repairs; they can also hire a repairperson themselves and deduct the cost from the rent. However, the space must have become truly unlivable for a tenant to exercise this right. A tenant cannot withhold their rent because of a chipped countertop, but they can do so with a broken heater.
Understanding your legal rights is essential in owning any kind of rental property. We at Aaron Cox Law can help you navigate your legal responsibilities under the implied warranty of habitability. Contact us today to learn more.