Perhaps the most commonly-litigated relationship is that between landlords and tenants. Sometimes the issues are very basic: the tenant simply can’t pay the rent. Sometimes, the issues are more complicated: the tenant has damaged the property, or the landlord is seeking to collect illegal fees, or the building is in disrepair, or the lease is ambiguous and each side thinks the other side is wrong. (See our section on contracts.) In these cases, it is usually important to be represented by a lawyer.
The fact of the matter is that there are both good tenants and bad tenants, and good landlords and bad landlords. With some notable exceptions, most “bad” tenants and most “bad” landlords do not intend to cause problems; rather, they failed to do things in the beginning that would prevent issues later. Tenants fail to read lease provisions. Landlords try to draft leases themselves, or buy “standard” leases from an office supply store, completely unaware that many (if not most) of these leases contain provisions that violate Michigan law. Inexperienced landlords also frequently fail to follow the proper procedures when dealing with security deposits and evictions—usually as a result of ignorance, rather than malice—and end up losing money as a result. Or, both parties commit the cardinal sin of leasing: having no written lease at all.
Shelton Legal Services has represented both tenants and landlords throughout Michigan. Our emphasis is on prevention: helping tenants understand their rights before they enter into (or get out of) a lease, and helping landlords be “good” landlords, whose lease provisions are consistent with the law, whose properties offer good value to their tenants, and who understand what they can (and, more importantly, can’t) do when a tenant needs to go.
For that reason, we have provided a great deal of information on landlord-tenant relationships on this website to help tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. If you have questions, look there first. Then, when it’s time to seek legal help, contact us. We’ll be on your side to help you obtain the best solution to your problem, and help you prevent problems in the future.