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When a tenant engages in illegal activity

Finding out that a tenant engaged in illegal activity on the property they are renting can be a very alarming discovery for a landlord. When a landlord makes such a discovery in regards to one of their tenants, it can be very important for the landlord to respond properly.

There are many different reasons for this. One is that illegal activity at a rental property can pose a threat to the safety of all of its tenants. Illegal activity on a rental property can also potentially have significant negative impacts on a property's reputation and financial well-being.

Additionally, some municipalities put special rules in place regarding what landlords are to do when their tenants engage in illegal activity on the rental property. Currently, a city here in Michigan, Saginaw, is considering adding some such special rules to its books.

Specifically, the city is considering a proposed ordinance which would:

  • Require landlords in the city to include certain language regarding criminal activity (a 266-word addendum) in their lease agreements with tenants.
  • Make it so landlords in the city would be expected to take eviction actions against a tenant if the tenant or their guests, over a one-year period, committed two "quality of life" violations. A variety of different types of criminal activity fall under the category of "quality of life" violations.
  • Make it so a landlord in the city could be fined if three "quality of life violations" happen over a one-year period in one of the rental units they rent to a tenant.

As this illustrates, cities sometimes consider putting extra requirements on landlords when it comes to responding to criminal activity by tenants. Thus, what the specific city ordinances are in the city their rental property is in is among the many things it can be important for landlords to take into account when deciding how to respond after discovering that one of their tenants engaged in illegal activity.

Real estate law attorneys can help landlords who have found out that one of their tenants has engaged in illegal activity on the rented property understand what their options and responsibilities are and can help them in their efforts to make the right response to the criminal activity.

Source: mlive, "Saginaw city officials introduce 'crime-free' rental ordinance," Mark Tower, April 6, 2015

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