Tenant's Rights Manual


Confront your landlord with what you know.  Simply asserting your rights can often solve the problem.  Tell your landlord that s/he does not have the right to invade your privacy, or is required to fix the leaky faucet or to weatherize your apartment.  If that does not solve the problem, withhold your rent, organize other tenants in your building, or contact your local tenants union or a lawyer.

As tenants, we have more power than we realize.  Our rent pays the landlord's bills. We control the money and can withhold it.  When we understand our rights and realize that the legal system is not as complicated as it seems, we can significantly improve our living conditions.  Tenants - take action and fight back against economic injustice!

Note: The legal interpretations on this site were made by experienced tenant advocates and were checked for accuracy by tenant attorneys.  This information represents one interpretation of the law. There are others.

For tenants outside of Ann Arbor:  Most of the information contained on this site is based on state laws and therefore applies throughout the state of Michigan. However, information that is specific to tenants in Ann Arbor is noted as such.  See Important Phone Numbers, check the Find a Lawyer channel on MI.LawHelp.org, or call the AATU (734-998-7550) to find out who to contact with questions particular to an area outside of Ann Arbor.

Code Violation Checklist (City of Ann Arbor) A checklist of items covered in the city's housing code.

Discrimination Find out what you can do if you think a landlord has discriminated against you illegally.  Federal, State, and local laws can protect you from illegal discrimination by landlords or their employees.

Evictions The only legal eviction is one that has been court-ordered.  Find out what constitutes legal and illegal evictions and how to protect yourself if your landlord is trying to evict you.  Learn what the court papers mean, when you might need a lawyer, and how long an eviction might take.

Housing Inspections If your home has housing code violations, the local inspection department can put pressure on the landlord to remedy the violations.

Leases What is the difference between a written and verbal lease? A fixed-term and a month-to-month lease? What are illegal lease clauses? Want to break a lease? Read this section.

Organizing a Tenants Union There really is power in numbers! Organized tenants can address building-wide or complex-wide problems more effectively than individual tenants.

Privacy Tired of your landlord walking in unannounced at all times of the day and night? Read here to find out what you can do.

Repairs and Maintenance Having trouble getting your landlord to fix something? Look here for tips on how to get the repairs that you are entitled to under state law. Includes:
    * Withholding Rent
    * Repair and Deduct
    * Suing the Landlord for Repairs

Security Deposits Just what does the law say about security deposits? How much can a landlord charge? What do tenants need to do in order to get back a security deposit? Find the answers here.

Small Claims Court Small Claims Court can be an inexpensive, relatively simple way to get back a security deposit.  Find out where and how to file, how much it costs, and more.

Subsidized Housing Includes: wait-list priorities, income certification, discrimination, Section 8, cooperatives, public housing, getting repairs done, just-cause protection from eviction, grievance procedure for public housing tenants, and public housing tenant associations.

Miscellaneous Topics

      Basement/Cellar Apartments Some cellar apartments (more than 50 percent below the ground) are illegal in Ann Arbor.  Learn how to find out if yours is and what you can do about it.

      Bugs Got some creepy crawly critters in your home? Find out how you can get rid of them.

      Cleaning Scams Find out what to do if you move into a dirty apartment. Also, what are cleaning waivers and cleaning fees, and are they legal?

      Finding Your Landlord's Address Some landlords are evasive when it comes to tenants contacting them directly.  Learn how to find the owner of your rental home.

      Heat and ""Weatherization"" Feeling a bit cold in your home? Find out how to put the heat on your landlord to fix your heat. Includes information on Ann Arbor's Weatherization Ordinance.

      Late Fees Are these legal? How much can a landlord charge for late rent?

      Pets What if the lease says no pets? What if it does not say anything at all about pets? What if the landlord tells you one thing and the lease says another? Get the scoop on pets before you sign a lease.

      Property Tax Foreclosures Information for Washtenaw County tenants affected by property tax foreclosures.

      Rent Increases How much and how often can a landlord raise the rent?

      Retaliation By a Landlord Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants who assert their rights.