Rights & Responsibilities

(Based on Public Act Number 42 of 1917 and Public Act Number 219 of 1931)


The landlord has a right to receive rent on time, to expect that the property will not be damaged or wasted or used for illegal purposes, and to receive payment for damages from the tenant at the end of the lease. The landlord has the right to expect the tenant will not bother others and will abide by the responsibilities under the lease agreement.

The landlord also has maintenance rights. This includes access to the unit to inspect and repair at reasonable intervals (with notice to the tenants) and at times of emergency. In addition, the landlord has recourse to court procedures to evict and sue tenants who cause damage to the property through action or neglect.

On the other hand, the landlord has maintenance responsibilities. The landlord must provide a safe and habitable dwelling, comply with state and local laws, and carry out repairs that are not the fault of the tenant. (See Maintenance.) The landlord is also required to return the unused portion of the security deposit. The landlord's specific duties and responsibilities are a very important and basic part of a lease. Before entering into either a written or oral lease, these rights and responsibilities should be clearly understood by both parties.

It should also be noted that in terms of insurance, the landlord generally will carry fire, liability, and, if necessary, flood protection on the land and structures. That insurance may not cover the tenant, so the tenant should find out the extent of the landlord's coverage and make arrangements with him to be notified in the event there is a change in insurance coverage that would affect the tenant. The tenant would also be wise to explore the purchase of a renter's policy to protect personal possessions from theft, damage, or loss. Renter's policies are readily available through most area insurance agencies.


The tenant has the right to "quiet enjoyment" of the rented premises, that the premises will be kept in repair, to receive a written eviction notice as provided by law, to the return of the unused portion of the security deposit, and to expect that the landlord will discharge the responsibilities contained in the lease agreement. Also, the tenant has the right to remain in the rental unit if the landlord sells it. This holds until the expiration of the lease agreement. If the new landlord wants the tenant to vacate the rental unit before the end of the lease period, the legal process of eviction must still be used. (See Evictions)

A tenant generally is expected to make timely rent payments and other agreed-upon payments (i.e., utility bills), to keep the property in good condition, and not to engage in actions that are illegal or bothersome to the others around. Again, the written or oral lease will usually contain the tenant's specific duties and responsibilities. Also, the tenant is required to inform the landlord of necessary repairs.

If the landlord fails to refund the security deposit or submit a list of damages within 30 days of the end of the tenancy, the tenant has a right, after 45 days, to sue the landlord for double the amount of the security deposit. If the landlord returns none or only a portion of the security deposit within 30 days, and the tenant feels that this is unreasonable, the tenant must inform the landlord of this within 7 days of hearing from the landlord.