Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Director of Regulatory & Legal Affairs, Home Builders Association of Michigan
Source of Income Bills Introduced
Two pieces of legislation – both introduced recently in the Michigan Senate – propose to add “source of income” protections in state law. First, Senate Bill 254 would amend the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act to forbid a landlord from doing any of the following as it relates to source of income:
- Deny or terminate a tenancy
- Make any distinctions or restrictions in rental\price, terms, conditions, fees, or
privileges relating to the rental unit
- Attempt to discourage the lease of any rental unit
- Assist, induce, or coerce another person to engage in a practice violating the
- Coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with rights granted under the act
- Represent to a prospective or current resident that a unit is not available for
inspection or rental when in fact it is available
- Otherwise make unavailable or deny a unit based on source of income
The bill goes on to mandate that a landlord shall not publish or display any notice or ad indicating a preference or requirement based on source of income, and, that a person who “suffers a loss” as a result of violation of the law may bring a court action to recover actual damages or up to 4.5 times the monthly rent of the unit, whichever is greater, along with court costs and attorney fees.
The second bill, Senate Bill 255, proposes to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This legislation would add source of income protection to both the title and section 502 (relating to real estate transactions) of the act.
AAM strongly opposes these bills for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it would force all Michigan apartment providers to participate in the federal Section 8 housing voucher program. This program, while a fantastic way to help families in need, was designed and codified to be voluntary – not mandatory – as it requires compliance with numerous federal rules which some apartment providers find too restrictive. AAM will work aggressively to educate our lawmakers on the impact such legislation would have on the rental property industry.