LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – No heat, flooding, black mold and bugs.
Those are just some of the apartment problems people have been dealing with in recent months.
So, what can renters do if landlords ignore the issues?
6 News spoke with housing attorney, Jim Schaafsma. He said Michigan has several laws on rental units and their conditions.
One states a renter’s home should be in “reasonable repair”. Another law goes in-depth by stating a unit needs to be “fit for the use intended”
“Certainly, the tenant intends those premises to be suitable for living, which would include utility systems that work, mechanicals all are in working order,” said Schaafsma.
But if the heat or another utility is out, how long does a landlord have to fix it?
Schaafsma said city ordinances might have tighter requirements. While state law doesn’t give specifics, he says the language sets the need for quick repair.
“To keep the premises in reasonable repair, that’s an ongoing responsibility so I think that there is some promptness requirement for a landlord in terms of a response time to repair a problem,” he said.
If repair work means leaving your home, he said compensation can get fuzzy.
If available, Schaffsma said a landlord can move a person to a temporary unit. If your only other choice is a hotel or problems aren’t fixed, options could range from withholding rent and paying through an escrow account or court action to make up for out-of-pocket costs.
“Deducting costs that the tenant has incurred because of the repair problem from future rent. It could be a claim for damages against the landlord sometimes for the extreme inconvenience which could include what are called pure out-of-pocket damages,” said Schaafsma.
While each case is different, he said if you have an issue with getting a maintenance problem fixed, make sure you keep written records of repair requests, any notifications and related costs.