Published July 19, 2020. Updated November 15, 2023.
Just like in most states, the relationship between landlords and tenants is governed by Michigan Lease Laws. These laws establish the rights and obligations of both parties involved in the rental agreement. They also make provisions for how both parties should act should they enter a Michigan lease agreement.
Leases are legal contracts meant to provide financial security for both the tenant and landlord. Sometimes, though, either party may want out a little early. Leaving before a fixed-term lease expires, without paying the remainder of the rent under the lease is called breaking the lease.
Read Michigan's Landlord-Tenant Laws for more information. As a Detroit property management company, we are well informed on the rules and procedures involved in such a situation. The following is what you need to know about breaking a lease in Michigan.
Renters Rights & Responsibilities When Signing a Lease in Michigan
You have the right to live in a home that is in good, habitable condition. This means the home should be safe and in good repair. The common areas should also be kept in their best conditions. If a repair is needed, you should notify the landlord in a reasonable time.
Likewise, the law also holds you accountable; any violations of the lease agreement may lead to your eviction.
Even if there is solid justification for your eviction, it is illegal for your landlord to:
- Board up the premises to prevent entry
- Cause nuisances, such as loud noises, et cetera
- Shut off utilities, such as gas, electricity, or water
- Change, alter, or add locks or security devices to the home, without your permission
- Destroy, withhold, or remove your property
- Enter your home without getting your permission. The only exception to this is during an emergency
- Use force or threaten to use force against you
The landlord must follow the proper eviction process, including sending the relevant eviction notices. For example, the unconditional 7-day notice to move out, or the 7-day notice to pay rent or leave.
There exist some exceptions to the evictions though. Here they are.
When Breaking a Lease in Michigan is Justified
Many tenants who sign a lease for their Michigan estate plan to stay for the full amount of time stipulated in the lease. However, things can happen that lead to a change of plan.
For instance, you may need to move to be closer to your new job or family. Perhaps you’re moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
In Michigan, you may be able to legally move out before the end of the lease, in the following situations.
A.Your landlord has harassed or violated your privacy rights
You are justified to break the lease if the landlord repeatedly violates your privacy rights. The lease can also be broken if your Michigan landlord does any of the following:
- Turn off your utilities
- Remove your windows and doors
- Change the locks
Under Michigan Lease Laws, you would be considered “constructively evicted," if subjected to any of these cases.
B.The rental unit is unsafe or violates Michigan Health or Safety Codes
Again, you would be “constructively evicted” if the landlord fails to adhere to the local and state housing codes. Michigan law sets the specific requirements for violations.
To be supported, you must show that the problem is truly serious.
C.You are starting Active Military Duty
Under federal law, you reserve the right to break your lease if you enter active military service. You must be a member of the “uniformed services,” which includes:
- The activated National Guard
- Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service
- Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and;
- The armed forces
Once the notice is delivered or mailed, your tenancy will automatically end 30 days after the date the next rent is due.
D.You are no longer capable of living independently
Under renters rights, a tenant may break a Michigan lease if he or she is incapable of living independently. This may be due to infirmity or age. This law is only applicable to tenants who have occupied their rental unit for more than 13 months.
You should notify the landlord of your intentions to terminate the lease by writing a 60-day notice.
E.You or your child is a victim of stalking, sexual assault, or Domestic Violence
First, specific conditions must be met (like filing a police report or the tenant securing a personal protection order). Under state law (Mich. Comp. Laws § 554.601b), victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking have the right for early lease termination.
Landlord’s Duty to Find a New Tenant in Michigan
You can still break the lease by paying all the rent due for the remaining lease term. Under Michigan law, you only need to pay the amount the landlord loses, in the event of breaking the lease.
No matter what your reason for leaving is, landlords must make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit. If fortunate enough to get another tenant, your landlord must subtract the rent received from the amount you owe.
The law also permits the landlord to add legitimate expenses to your bill. For instance, the advertising costs accrued when the landlord is searching for a new tenant.
How to Reduce Your Financial Responsibility When Breaking a Michigan Lease Agreement
Costs associated with breaking a lease can be high. Especially if you have no legal justification to do so. Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce the financial implications.
One way of doing this is by giving the landlord an early notice, if possible. In the notice, make sure you’re sincere and give legitimate reasons why you need to move out. Also, you can offer your landlord a qualified tenant for replacement.
Successfully Navigating Lease Termination
In Michigan, ending a lease is largely unregulated by law and is always a matter of negotiation between you and your landlord.
Always be sincere when you have to break the lease agreement. It might also help ensure a good reference from the landlord when you’re looking for your next place.