Advocacy Update


Legislation Defining Rent Proposed In Michigan Senate
New legislation was introduced in the Michigan Senate just prior to the mid-November adjournment of the legislature.Senate Bill 661, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-13th District), proposes amendments to the Truth In Renting Act to define the term “rent” and add to the list of items which may not be included in a rental agreement. The proposed definition of rent is as follows:
“Rent” means the amount paid under a rental agreement for the use or occupancy of a rental unit. Beginning on the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subdivision, rent includes the cost of providing essential services to a tenant that are necessary for the use or occupancy of a rental unit. For purposes of this subdivision, essential services that are necessary for use and occupancy of a rental unit include heat, safe and clean hot and cold running water, sewer, electric, gas service, safe and operable plumbing and sewerage systems, ventilation, electrical, drainage, roofing systems, trash removal, pest and vermin control, snow removal, lawn care, locks for exterior doors, latches for windows, and cooking appliances or a refrigerator that is supplied by the landlord and is in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local safety standards.”

The bill proposes to ban the imposition of a charge or fee that is any of the following:

• Not reasonable
• Not connected to any of the following:
– A nonessential service that is provided to the tenant at the tenant’s option and is directly and primarily beneficial to
the tenant.
–  The tenant’s failure to meet a lawful obligation under the rental agreement.
• Connected to a service provided to a tenant by a third party
•  For a tenant’s failure to provide notice of nonrenewal of a rental agreement that is greater than 1 month.
•  For a tenant’s payment of rent after its due date and any grace period that exceeds the lesser of $30.00 or 3 percent of the rent.
• For a lawful method a tenant uses to pay rent or other charges or fees.

The bill goes on to ban any rental agreement provision which:
• Imposes a charge or fee to the length of tenancy after the initial term.
• Applies a tenant’s payment to the tenant’s rental obligation only after it is applied to other charges or fees.
• Requires arbitration of any existing or subsequent controversy or dispute that arises under the rental agreement.
• Prohibits a tenant from paying rent or other charges or fees by a lawful method.

A final proposal in the legislation allows a rental property owner to require a tenant to arrange and pay for a service of a public utility, but not impose any additional cost for that service.

The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Housing and Human Services for consideration.

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