Landlord Responsibilities for Utilities in the Winter

Winters can get chilly in Michigan, so during the colder months of the year, landlords across the state need to be mindful of their tenants and their access to utility services. Electricity, gas and water are essential to the basic needs of tenants year-round, but heat is something that tenants will definitely need once the temperature drops in the winter. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each landlord’s rights and responsibilities under Michigan law with regards to tenants and their utilities.

You cannot shut off utility servicesheating radiator in shape of a home

According to Michigan law, landlords are not permitted to shut off the utility services of tenants who have fallen behind on their rental payments. In most cases, tenants sign up for utility services in their own names, which means landlords have no control over their utilities anyway, but if your property has heat included, it must remain on during the winter season. When you take on utility costs as part of your rental, you also take on the risk and responsibilities included. However, it’s important to remember that you cannot, under any circumstances, ask a utility company to shut off utility service to a tenant due to a rental disagreement.

Help tenants who are struggling to make payments

Landlords should also work with tenants who are behind on their utility bills and provide them with the resources they need to keep their utilities on in the winter if they aren’t included in the rent. There are some programs that can help tenants in need through the Michigan Department of Social Services. Recommend your tenants contact the DSS if they are unable to make their payments, which can be much higher in the winter season.

If you are a landlord who is having problems with a tenant, you should find out more about your rights and responsibilities so that you can avoid legal issues when it comes to utility services. The team at The Law Offices of Aaron D. Cox PLLC can speak with you about your situation. We’ve helped hundreds of landlords with their tenant problems and we’re experts at navigating landlord-tenant legal issues. Let us work with you to determine the best course of action for your renters. Call us at 734-287-3664 today to discuss your case.

3 Responses to “Landlord Responsibilities for Utilities in the Winter”

  1. Jen


    I allowed someone to move into my house with his adult daughter. Her name is on the lease but only her father signed his name. Can his daughter be court ordered to pay rent or does she have no legal responsibility since she did not sign?

    They were supposed to switch the utilities into their name right away, per the lease agreement. It’s been 3 months and they still have not. I have had to pay $600+ in DTE bills. They have refused to pay rent. I let them move in with no security desposit. They are family’s family. I was trying to help them and they took advantage.

    I am a single mom struggling to pay for both my home and now their bills. Am I allowed to have the service taken out of my name? Or would that be considered shutting off the utilities on them, even though all they have to do is call and put it in their name? Is this something I should have done from the beginning once they refused to put electric in their name or is it illegal to do since they are now in the house?

    I served them an eviction notice last week and am afraid they will go out of their way to create a super high bill for me. They already have $200 electric bills, when mine was only $40 a month in the summer when I lived there.

    I do not think I can take them to small claims court because I do not have their social security numbers.

    Thank you,



    I live in northern Michigan I cannot call unemployment until Monday the 11th and the landlord turn my electric off which is in the name, so I’m gonna lose all my food and I’m in the cold and dark is there something I can do during the stay-at-home Act?

  3. Lexus Lyon

    Hello, my landlord recently turned off my heat due to a leak that has been going on for a while now and will not fix it for a week. I currently have a 14 month child and do not believe they can just shut off our heat due to it being included. Is this legal? If so is there any compromise they have to do to fix the issue temporary?


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