Bad Landlord? When Is It Legal To Stop Paying Rent In Michigan?
You know the saying "good fences make good neighbors?" Well, good communication can make good landlord & tenant relationships, too. Sometimes that relationship goes sideways when you need something important fixed in your home, in a timely manner.
Can I stop paying rent if my landlord isn't making serious repairs in Michigan?
- No, you cannot stop paying rent. But, for instance, if your furnace died weeks ago and you've called, written, sent carrier pigeon trying to get it fixed.. you can withhold payment by placing your funds into an escrow account after following a few, important steps.
- Note: Remember, I'm not providing legal advice. Rental agreements/contracts vary in language depending on the landlord. Follow those guidelines and know state/city laws are applicable to landlord/tenant rights, too.
What is an escrow account?
- "Real estate escrow means putting something, such as rent money, in the custody of a neutral third party until certain conditions are met." That definition is just one example from Detroit City's official site.
How much do you pay into an escrow account based on lack of repairs?
From the State of Michigan website:
The amount of rent withheld must reasonably relate to the cost of fixing the problem or to the amount of damage the tenant has incurred because of the landlord’s failure to fix the problem. Withhold less for a clogged drain. Withhold more for an unusable toilet or shower. Only the most catastrophic problems will warrant withholding ALL of the rent. In any event, the amount withheld must be deposited into an escrow account.
What happens if the landlord retaliates by starting eviction process?
You would still have rights, provided you have thoroughly documented when you've called, used certified mail, email to communicate and follow-up in communication with your landlord -- this is what the kids say, "bringing the receipts." The State of Michigan says you must be able to prove (with that documentation):
- A claim of retaliatory eviction.
- The landlord’s breach of the warranty of habitability and duty to repair.
- Rent was properly withheld and escrowed.
It's important to know renters have rights, too... just follow the law to the letter.