A 2010 Michigan statute permits a tenant who is at risk of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to be released from a rental obligation. The tenant seeking release must provide notice of “intent to seek a release and written documentation that the tenant has a reasonable apprehension of present danger to the tenant or his or her child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.”

The documentation that may be submitted includes a personal protection order, a criminal “no-contact” order, a police report that resulted in a criminal charge filed within 14 days of the notice to the landlord, or a form submitted by a qualified third party verifying a threat of present danger. A qualified third party includes a domestic violence or sexual assault counselor, health professional (medical or mental health), or clergy member. The statute contains specific definitions of the term “qualified third party.”

Once documentation is submitted, the tenant will be released from her obligation to pay rent on the first day of the second month that rent is due after notice is given. The release takes effect when the tenant vacates the premises.

Landlords are obligated to provide notice of this new right either in rental agreements, a notice posted in the in the property management office or a notice delivered to tenants upon signing a lease. Landlords are also prohibited from releasing a tenant’s forwarding address to the person identified as the source of the threat. Michigan’s statute may be found here:  Download 2010-PA-0199 An informative publication prepared by the Michigan Poverty Law Program may be downloaded here. Download LeaseReleaseLawBrochure A compendium of such laws for all states was published  in January 2013 by the National Housing Law Project. It may be downloaded here: Download Natl Housing Law Project Jan 2013

For more information visit: Jeanne M Hannah

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