Provisions of the Rental Agreement

Leases differ in terms but a written rental contract, in order to be valid, should include:

  • The name(s) and signature(s) of the landlord(s)
  • The name(s) and signature(s) of the tenant(s)
  • The amount of rent to be paid, how frequently, and when it is to be paid
  • A description of or location of the premises to be rented
  • The starting and ending dates, if it is a fixed-term tenancy
  • The landlord's name and mailing address
  • The amount of the security deposit, if any; (see Deposits and Checklists)
  • The name and address of the financial institution holding the security deposit
  • Notice of the tenant's obligation to supply a forwarding address within four days of terminating the tenancy
  • Definition of responsibility for paying utilities
  • Maintenance responsibilities (see Maintenance)
  • Notice to quit procedures (see Evictions)
  • Any other agreements the landlord and tenant may wish to make

Note: Attached to the lease should be two copies of an inventory checklist. (See Deposits and Checklists)

What a Rental Agreement Should Not Include

The Legislature has passed the "Truth in Renting" law which makes it illegal for a lease to contain clauses that infringe on a tenant's rights. This law requires that all rental leases shall:

  • not include a provision that excludes or discriminates against the tenant
  • not include waivers or any alterations of a party's right with respect to possession or eviction proceedings provided in the laws governing forcible and unlawful ejectment and summary proceedings to recover possession
  • not provide for a confession of judgment by a party; that is, require a party to give up the right to certain legal options in advance
  • not include any provision which 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 liability could be waived to the extent a tenant was able to recover under a certain type of insurance policy for loss, damage, or injury caused by fire or other casualties)
  • not include waivers or alterations of a party's right to demand a trial by jury or any other right of notice or procedure required by law
  • not provide that a party be liable for legal costs or attorney's fees incurred by another party in excess of costs or fees specifically permitted by statute
  • not provide for the acquisition by the lessor (party leasing the property) of a security interest in any personal property of the tenant to assure payments of rent or other charges except as specifically permitted by statute
  • not include any provision which accelerates rental payment if a breach of the lease occurs, unless the amount is determined by the court
  • not include a provision that releases a party from a duty to mitigate damages
  • not require a tenant to pay rent or accept premises when the premises are in a condition that violates acceptable conditions established by law
  • not include any provision that waives tenant's rights regarding security deposits

Landlords have 20 days to correct any illegal clauses brought to their attention by tenants. Rental leases must comply with the Security Deposit Act, the Consumer Protection Act, the Michigan Civil Rights Act, the Handicappers' Civil Rights Act, and the Truth in Renting Act.