Michigan Evictions: What Landlords Need to Know about Security Deposits

March 3, 2016 - Categories: Legal Articles

Hopefully you read our prior blog discussing what a Michigan tenant needs to know about security deposits. This blog will focus on what a landlord must do to comply with Michigan law and protect his or her rights to the security deposit.

When a tenant moves in, a landlord must provide written notice of the landlord’s contact information such as his or her name and address, the name of the bank where the security deposit is being held, and the tenant’s obligation to provide a forwarding address within four days of moving out.

Michigan law provides that a security deposit cannot exceed 1½ times the monthly rent. If you charge the tenant the first and last month’s rent prior to moving in, the last month’s rent is treated as a security deposit. The landlord must remember that the security deposit remains the property of the tenant during the term of the lease until the landlord establishes a right to it.

If the tenant provides the landlord with a forwarding address within four days of moving out, the landlord has 30 days from the move out date to either return the full amount of the deposit or provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of the damages being assessed against the deposit. If there is any sum remaining after the assessment for damages, the remainder must be refunded to the tenant. The itemized list must also contain the following 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.”

If the tenant objects to the landlord’s assessment of damages, the landlord must either negotiate a settlement with the tenant or file a lawsuit seeking a monetary judgment for the damages claimed. The landlord may file a suit within 45 days from termination of occupancy. If both parties of met their deadlines and followed proper procedures regarding the security deposit, the landlord is required to file a lawsuit to keep the security deposit (since it is still the tenant’s property). Failure of the landlord to file litigation subjects the landlord to being liable to the tenant for double the amount of the deposit.

Access Legal Care, PLLC, is a Michigan law firm headquartered in S.E. Michigan, but we work with local lawyers throughout Michigan to serve clients in every Michigan County. We provide you with affordable legal advice and legal services related to many common Michigan-law and some Federal-law matters. Call us today at 855.583.6521.