The condition and upkeep of your dwelling
A. You have a right to a clean apartment on arrival. You have
the right to a clean, sanitary dwelling before you move in, even if
your lease says it does not have to be clean. Cleaning waivers are
sometimes used when a tenant wants to move in early.
B. Your right to have the lessor repair. Your lessor must also
keep your dwelling in good repair. It must also be kept “up
to Code” — in compliance with the Ann Arbor City and
the Michigan State Housing Codes.
If the lessor fails to meet his or her obligations to the
tenant, state law gives the tenant a right to withhold all or part
of the rent under certain circumstances. The right to withhold all
or part of rent may occur in the following situations:
1. If the lessor violates the terms of the lease agreement,
2. If the lessor fails to maintain the premises in reasonable
3. If the lessor fails to comply with the State or City Housing
4. If there is a total or partial constructive eviction. Such a
constructive eviction occurs if the condoct of misconduct of the
lessor makes all or part of the dwelling uninhabitable, or
5. If the lessor imposes a retaliatory rent increase. A
retaliatory increase occurs when the landlord raises the rent
because a tenant took an action which was legally the
tenant’s right – such as making a complaint concerning
the condition of the premises. In this instance, only rent in
excess of the original amount may be withheld.
Withholding rent may lead to legal action by the landlord to
If you decides to withhold rent, the following procedures are
strongly recommended by both the lessor and tenant advocate
1. Make a list of everything that is wrong with your dwelling
and of every violation of the lease by the lessor.
2. Send your lessor a letter, inserting your list described
above, preferably by certified mail, stating that you are
withholding rent because of the condition of your dwelling and/or
violations of the lease by the lessor. Make a copy of the letter
and keep all of the mail receipts.
3. You may, at some future time, be required to pay some of all
of the rents you have withheld. Accordingly, it is wise to set up a
separate rent fund so that the money will be available when and if
payment is needed.
Money can be deducted from your security deposit for the
following reasons only:
1. For actual damages to the unit which were the direct result
of conduct not reasonably expected in the normal course of living
there. Deductions cannot be made for normal wear and tear of the
2. For unpaid rent.
3. For unpaid utility bills.
You have no right to fair rent in Ann Arbor.
You have a few very limited rights now as to rent level.
1. The Michigan Consumer Protection Act says that rent cannot be
grossly out of proportion to rents charged by other landlords. This
doesn’t help you if they all charge too much, but it can help
if your landlord is worse than most.
2. Your rent cannot be raised in retaliation for your
withholding rent or other lawful acts arising out of the tenancy.
If your landlord attempts to raise the rent in retaliation for your
lawful acts, see a tenant lawyer or advocate for advice.