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Landlord’s duties in domestic violence cases

Michigan law sets forth certain duties and obligations of landlords in the event that a tenant is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Specifically, MCL 554.601b provides that a tenant can break his or her lease if… 

the tenant submits reasonable evidence to the landlord, by certified mail, that the tenant or a child who lives in the leased premises has a “reasonable apprehension of a present danger” to the tenant or child due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The statute is very specific about what constitutes “reasonable evidence.”If the landlord terminates a lease at the request of a tenant who supplies the required documentation, the landlord does not have to refund any rent paid in advance, and this does not affect the obligations of either the tenant or the landlord with respect to any security deposit. Also, if there are multiple tenants on the lease, a release of one tenant under this statute does not affect the obligations of the other tenants.In such cases, the landlord must also be careful to keep the tenant’s forwarding address confidential. It can only be disclosed “as reasonably necessary to accomplish the landlord’s regular and ordinary business purpose.” Under no circumstances should the forwarding address be revealed to the person whom the tenant has identified as the source of the problem.In addition, each lease should contain the following statement: “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.” If that statement is not in the lease, it must be posted in plain view in the landlord’s property management office.