What Can’t Be in a Lease

If you own or manage an apartment or other property, it is essential that you understand your contracts inside and out. It is important to know the language in your leasing agreement from front to back to make sure that there is nothing within it that is questionable, false or even illegal for your tenants. There are some select items that Michigan landlords, owners and managers should not have in their leases. Let’s take a look at these key provisions.

Lease RulesYour lease cannot violate the lockout laws

As a Michigan rule, your lease cannot contain language that enables you to force out any tenant or change the locks on an apartment that they are renting. If you need to go through an eviction process with a tenant due to late payments, poor care of the property, etc., then you must go through the court system. Landlords found guilty of this practice can be held liable civilly for triple the tenant’s actual damages or $200.00 per occurrence, whichever is greater.

Your lease cannot state that a property manager may take a tenant’s property in place of late rent

Your lease cannot say anything to the fact that an owner or landlord may seize a piece of tenant property just because they are late on rent. If payment is late, the landlord must get a court judgment and an order to collect payment before proceeding.

Your lease cannot violate your tenant’s civil rights

By absolutely no means may a lease discriminate a renter based on their race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, family or disability. Any verbiage relating to this matter in your lease is a violation of state and federal laws.

Your lease cannot violate the rules of security deposits

We’ve covered these rules more extensively in a previous post, but when you collect a security deposit from a tenant, it is simply a placeholder in the event that they cause any damage to the apartment. The only reason you can keep their deposit after the lease ends is if there is damage to the apartment or outstanding unpaid rent. There should not be anything written into your lease that states anything to the contrary.

Your lease cannot allow you to demand rent for future months

When you are renting out an apartment, it is your responsibility to collect rent for each month the tenant lives in the residence. If they are late on the rent or miss a payment, you do not have the right to demand rent in advance for future months just to prevent the scenario from happening again. If a tenant wants to pay rent in advance, that is their prerogative alone.

If you own property in Michigan and need assistance with drafting your lease or dealing with tenant issues, give The Law Offices of Aaron D. Cox Law a call. We’ve handled landlord-tenant issues and real estate investment issues of all types for our clients, and we are here for you. Give us a call at 734-287-3664 and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with us today.

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