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Information first-time Michigan landlords should know

Buying and renting property represents a significant investment for landlords. If you are unfamiliar with the process it can be intimidating, especially if you are renting out property for the first time, but when done correctly it can go smoothly while also providing a consistent source of income. Each state has its own landlord-tenant laws so it is important to become familiar with them before renting out property.

The choice of a tenant is one that should be made careful, as you want your property treated well and with due respect. While landlords in Michigan are free to deny applicants based on factors like poor prior renting practices or bad credit, you must ensure that you comply with all fair housing laws. Under state and federal law, applicants cannot be denied housing due to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (having children), disability, age, or marital status.

There are also different tenancies (tenant rights specified in the lease). These tenancies and their differences are important to know because different tenancies are ended in different ways.

  • Fixed-Term Tenancy is when the lease defines the time period wherein the tenancy begins and ends. This is generally the most stable type of tenancy as there Is little possibility for change over the course of the lease.
  • Periodic Tenancy/Tenancy at Will is less defined than fixed-term tenancy because it can be created by actual or implied consent. Payments are usually made month-to-month. This form of tenancy provides both the landlord and the renter with the greatest amount of freedom because they can end the arrangement at any time, given proper notice.
  • Tenancy at Sufferance is almost trespassing and is when a tenant stays in the property without the consent of the landlord after the lease has expired.

Once you have found a suitable renter, it is very advantageous for the landlord and tenant alike to have all documentation involved in the renting process well known and well organized. Both parties should understand and agree to all aspects of a lease agreement. Once any documentation have been signed, it should be filed away so as to be accessible at any given time. This includes documents regarding leases, security deposits, etc. Having all parties on the same page from the start will go a long way toward preventing any conflicts down the line.

If for some reason you find that you need to evict a tenant, the most important thing is to ensure that you follow all state and federal laws. This includes proper notification in particular.

The Michigan legislature has compiled a helpful guide for landlords that may be a good resource for first-time landlords with questions about the process. Any further questions should be directed to a legal professional.

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