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City contemplates fining tenants for violations

Michigan residents may be interested to hear of a proposed bill that could affect tenants in Lansing. The proposed law would shift the burden of maintaining a property from the owner, where it currently sits, to the person living on the premises.

The stated purpose of the bill is to make tenants financially and legally responsible for their own behavior in breaking the law while occupying an investment property. Currently, if an area has an ordinance that prohibits a person from leaving trash outside, and a tenant does just that, the fine is levied against the landlord as the owner of the property, despite the fact that the landlord is not the responsible party. As the tenant placed the trash, some might argument that it makes sense for the tenant to be the one to remove it.

Supporters of the law point out that, when a person commits a traffic violation, the company that made the car is not penalized. The citation goes with the rule breaker. Opponents of the proposed change point out that it is easy to determine who owns a property but not to determine who actually lives in it. The fact that renters tend to move more frequently than owners could create an additional burden on enforcement. Opponents also raised concerns that it could be difficult to enforce the law in families that house multiple families, as it may not be possible to determine who created the problem.

When disputes arise between a landlord and tenant, a local attorney may help negotiate a resolution. If a tenant has broken a lease or violated an ordinance, an attorney might be able to issue a notice to resolve the problem or vacate the premises.

Source: Michigan Radio, "Couch on the porch? Trash in the yard? Hold tenants responsible, lawmakers say", Rina Miller, November 03, 2013

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