What provisions are prohibited by law from being included in the lease?

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Real Estate FAQ

Q.    What provisions are prohibited by law from being included in the lease?

A.    The Michigan Truth in Renting Act regulates residential leases – prohibiting certain clauses or provisions and prescribing penalties.  A provision or clause in a lease that violates the Truth in Renting Act is void.  In particular, a written lease shall not include a provision which:

  • Waives or alters a remedy available to a party when the rental property is in a condition which violates the covenants of fitness and habitability;
  • Waives a right established under the laws that regulate security deposits;
  • Unlawfully excludes or discriminates against a person in violation of the laws relating to civil rights;
  • Provides for a confession of judgment, e.g., requiring a person to give up certain legal rights in advance;
  • Relieves the landlord from liability for the landlord’s failure to perform a duty or for negligent performance of a duty imposed by law (however, the landlord’s duty could be waived to the extent a tenant was able to recover under an insurance policy for loss, damage, or injury caused by a fire or other casualty);
  • Waives or alters a party’s right to demand a jury trial or any other right of notice or procedure required by law;
  • Provides that a party is liable for legal cost or attorney fees incurred by the other party in excess of costs or fees specifically permitted by statute;
  • Provides for the landlord to take a security interest in any of the tenant’s personal property to assure payment of rent or other charges, except as specifically permitted by statute;
  • Provides that rental payments may be accelerated if the tenant violates a lease provision unless the amount is determined by the court;
  • Waives or alters a party’s rights with respect to possession or eviction proceedings;
  • Releases a party from the duty to mitigate (or minimize) damages;
  • Violates the Consumer Protection Act (Act 331 of 1976, MCL 445.901 to 445.922), which lists 34 unfair trade practices; or
  • Requires the tenant to give the landlord a power of attorney.
  • Provides that the landlord may alter a lease provision after the lease begins without the tenant’s written consent, EXCEPT: with 30 days’ written notice, the landlord may make the following types of adjustments, as long as there is a clause in the lease allowing for the adjustments:
  • Changes required by federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation;
  • Changes in rules relating to the property meant to protect health, safety, and peaceful enjoyment; and
  • Changes in the amount of rental payments to cover additional costs incurred by the landlord because of increases in property taxes, increases in utilities, and increases in property insurance premiums.

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