Legislative Update

Forrest WallAllowance for Early Lease Termination in Cases of Domestic Violence Now Law
You will recall from my previous columns over the past two years that AAM was part of the work group on Senate Bill 185, which proposed to allow a tenant to be released from their lease if the tenant has a “reasonable apprehension” of danger to themselves or their children from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This legislation was passed by the legislature at the end of September, and the Governor recently signed it into law. The law was given immediate effect, so landlords must incorporate this right away into your management/leasing operations. By way of summary, the legislation states that the tenant shall be released from their lease after providing 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 would be granted no later than the first day of the second month that rent is due after notice is given, but does not apply to prepaid amounts, nor does it prevent a landlord from withholding security deposits under the law. 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. The specific language to be used in the lease provision or posted/delivered  notice must be stated as “A tenant who has a reasonable apprehension of present danger to him or her or his or her child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may have special statutory rights to seek a release of rental obligation under MCL 554.601b.” In situations where there are multiple tenants under the lease, the remaining tenants would still be responsible for their lease obligation. The full text of the law, which also includes specific language to be used in the tenant’s written documentation when utilizing a qualified third party, is posted to our website at https://www.apartments.org for you. I encourage you to read it carefully and provide it to your staff.

Small Property Improvement Loans Available Through MSHDA
Apartment owners should keep in mind a resource available through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The Property Improvement Program offers loans to landlords renting to low-to-moderate income tenants. Some of the improvements eligible for this program include roofing, siding, insulation, etc. The borrowing limit is $25,000 per unit, with a maximum outstanding limit of $100,000 per borrower, and the interest rate is fixed at 8%. Eligible properties cannot have more than 11 units total, and while there are no income requirements for landlords, the rental units must meet MSHDA guidelines. If you are interested in more information, visit the MSHDA web site, then click on the Home Improvement link.

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