Advocacy Update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President, and Industry Relations

New Twist On Rent Control Introduced In Michigan House
Legislation has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives allowing rent control in specific situations, with offsetting property tax breaks. Introduced in October, House Bill 5983 proposes to authorize local units of government the ability to limit rent for disabled individuals and senior citizens. An individual with a disability is defined in the bill as a person with either physical or mental disability that limits one or more major life activities of the individual. Senior citizen is defined in the bill as someone 62 or older, but the rent limitation would not apply to a person 70 or under unless the person has lived in their dwelling for the last 5 years. The legislation calls for local units of government with rent control ordinances to provide a property tax break to property subject to the rent control ordinance. The tax break takes the form of an exemption from ad valorem property taxes, with a specific tax taking its place. The specific tax is figured by taking the amount of tax that would have been collected on the parcel as though it was not exempt from ad valorem property tax, minus an amount determined by the local government but not exceeding the ad valorem tax. The legislation has been referred to the House Local Government Committee for consideration.

Additional Protection Proposed In Domestic Violence Situations
As you may recall, in 2010 the Landlord-Tenant Law was amended to allow for a tenant to be released from their lease where there is a “reasonable apprehension” of danger to themselves or their children from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Under that law, the tenant must provide the landlord with a written notice of the tenant’s intent to seek a release, and written documentation – via a personal protection order, a probation or conditional release order, police report, or a report by a qualified third party (in this case a domestic violence counselor, licensed health professional, mental health professional, or clergy) – of a threat. The release is then granted no later than the first day of the second month that rent is due after notice is given. The law also stated that landlords must either include specific language in their lease to allow for this early release, or, notice can be posted in the leasing office or delivered to prospective tenants when a lease is signed. Now, legislation has been introduced allowing a tenant, under the same parameters as stated above, to change their rental unit door locks. The legislation states that the tenant may change the locks 48 hours after the written notice is mailed or 24 hours after being personally delivered or sent by electronic service. Further, the tenant is responsible for the cost, and must provide the landlord a key to the new locks.


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