Housing Inspections

If your home has housing code violations, the local inspection department can put pressure on your landlord to fix the problems.

Michigan State Housing Code

The State of Michigan regulates the quality of rental housing through a variety of laws and building codes that set minimum standards for all rental property. A landlord cannot legally rent a unit unless it meets all of these minimum standards.

Michigan's Housing Act, written in 1917, covers rental dwellings throughout the state. Towns with populations under 10,000 are exempt and, in cities with populations between 10,000 and 100,000, single-family and duplex rental homes are exempt. However, even small towns can use the standards under this act, if they formally adopt it.

This code of standards has three main problems:

  1. There is no state enforcement mechanism

  2. It does not uniformly cover the entire state

  3. It is out of date. (A powerful landlord lobby in Lansing has kept the state from passing any stronger regulations.)

Local Housing Codes

Most mid-size and large cities and a few small townships have adopted their own building and/or maintenance codes to regulate rental housing. These local codes are meant to improve on the state code.

Most cities, counties, and townships also have some department responsible for enforcing all local and/or state housing codes.

Housing Inspection offices are supposed to promote the health and safety of tenants and to preserve the area's housing stock. They are responsible for inspecting a property to make sure it complies with applicable housing codes. No matter what city or town you live in, you should contact your city or township hall to find out what codes do exist and how they can be enforced. Chances are, your landlord is in violation of something!

NO Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) = NO RENT

You do not have to pay rent when your home does not have a valid C.O.  A violation of any housing law is reason and a defense for withholding rent. If your home does not have a C.O., it may not be safe for you to stay there.  Also, if your landlord takes you to court, a judge may order you to leave immediately.  If your home does have a valid C.O., you do not have to pay rent if there are repair problems in your home.

Requesting Inspections

Though different for each town or municipality, a general pattern to requesting a housing inspection can be followed:

1. Make a list of all the things that are going wrong or need repair in your apartment.

2. Find your city's housing code, or any new ordinances and make a list of possible code violations which are happening in your rental property.

3. Call your city's Housing Bureau. Tell them you want to make an appointment for a housing inspection, and tell them what it is you want them to inspect.

4. When you make the appointment for your inspection, ask for information about previous problems at your address, previous reports of violations and citations, and previous complaints about your landlord for this and other properties. If you can demonstrate that your landlord has a pattern of poor maintenance and/or neglect with respect to repair issues, this will help your case.

5. Arrange to be present at the rental property on the date and time of your Housing Inspection appointment.

6. Your landlord will be notified that a housing inspection was requested.  If your landlord asks you to help him or her cover up the problem, or to temporarily "fix" the problem in order to "pass" the upcoming inspection, tell your landlord "no" and report this to the Housing Bureau.  Make a note of this for your records, also.

7. Most requested inspections are only scheduled for 15 to 30 minutes.  At the end of the inspection, ask for a copy of the inspection report.

Use the following numbers to request a Housing Inspection:

Ann Arbor Township (734) 663-3418
Augusta Township (734) 461-6929 or (734) 487-0518
Barton Hills (Village of) (734) 663-1284

Bridgewater Township (734) 428-7877

Chelsea (Village of) (734) 475-1771 or (734) 475-8684

Dexter Township (734) 426-3767

Dexter (Village of) (734) 426-8303

Freedom Township (734) 428-7877

Lima Township (734) 475-2936

Lodi Township (734) 665-9082

Lyndon Township (734) 498-2328

Manchester (Village of) (734) 428-7877

Milan (City of) (734) 439-1501

Northfield Township (734) 449-2880 or (734) 449-2116

Pittsfield Township (734) 822-3129

Salem Township (734) 349-1690

Saline (City of) (734) 429-4907

Saline Township (734) 429-7783

Scio Township (734) 665-2123

Sharon Township (517) 522-4347

Superior Township (734) 482-6099

Sylvan Township (734) 475-8139

Webster Township (734) 426-2604

York Township (734) 439-8842

Ypsilanti (City of) (734) 482-1025

Ypsilanti Township (734) 485-3943

To learn more about housing rights in Michigan and where to get help:    

Consult the Michigantenants.org website for local housing resources and tenant counseling services. 

Consult the Michiganlegalaid.org website for legal education articles and local service information.

If you received court papers or otherwise need free or low cost legal advice:

This article appears courtesy of the Michigan Tenant Counseling Program.