Michigan Evictions: What Tenants Need to Know about Security Deposits
March 8, 2016 - Categories: Legal Articles
When you want to rent property, it is common for the landlord to require you to pay a security deposit. This is the amount a tenant pays to the landlord in excess of the first rental payment to protect the landlord from loss. If the landlord requires the first and last month’s rent to be paid prior to moving in, the last month’s rent is considered a security deposit.
The security deposit is held by the landlord during the term of the lease, but it remains the property of the tenant. If the tenant causes damage to the property (beyond reasonable wear and tear), fails to pay rent, fails to pay utilities or breaches the lease in some other way, the security deposit can be used by the landlord to cover the expenses. However, if the tenant complies with all terms of the lease, the security deposit must be returned to the tenant once the lease is terminated. It is important for the tenant to complete an inventory checklist regarding the condition of the property when the tenant moves in. This is crucial in protecting the tenant’s rights if the landlord claims assessments against the security deposit to pay for damages.
Michigan law provides that both the tenant and the landlord have obligations that must be performed regarding the security deposit. It is important for both parties to understand their duties. For example, the law requires certain notices to be given in writing and served on the other party within prescribed time periods. If the party fails to perform their duties as mandated by law, they risk losing their rights to the security deposit.
When the tenant moves out of the property, he or she must provide the landlord with a written notice of a forwarding address within four days of moving out. Failure to provide this notice in writing results in the landlord having no duty to return the deposit. However, if the tenant provides a forwarding address within the four-day deadline, the landlord has 30 days from move out to respond with returning the deposit or providing a detailed explanation of the damages assessed against the deposit. If the landlord provides a list of damages, the tenant has only seven days to respond and explain any objections the tenant has to the assessment of damages. The tenant’s response must be detailed and respond to each item of damage listed by the landlord.
If a dispute arises over a security deposit, either the tenant or the landlord can file a lawsuit. To learn how we can help you, contact Access Legal Care, PLLC. legal fees are typically 40-60% less than the average Michigan attorney hourly fee. Call us today at 855.583.6521.