If you are a tenant and have a reasonable fear of danger to you or your child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you may be able to be released from your lease without penalty and without being responsible for future rental payments.
If I am a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, how can this law protect me?
If you are a tenant and have a reasonable fear of danger to you or your child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you may be able to be released from your rental payment obligation without penalty and without being responsible for future rental payments. In other words, if you are the only tenant on the lease, you can end your lease early. If there are other tenants on the lease, you can be released from the lease, but the lease would still in effect for the other tenants on the lease.1
1 M.C.L. § 554.601b(1),(5)
What is the process for getting out of my lease?
To get out of your lease, you must submit a written statement to your landlord by certified mail.1 The written statement must include the following:
- you are requesting a release from your lease; and
- you (the tenant) or your child have a reasonable fear of present danger from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.2
To prove that you have a “reasonable fear,” you must provide one or more of the following documents to your landlord:
- a valid personal protection order from Michigan;
- a protection order from another state or territory that was issued for the purpose of preventing an abuser’s violent or threatening acts, harassment, or contact, or that orders the abuser to stay away from you;
- an order removing the abuser from your home as part of an abuse and neglect case (under M.C.L. § 712A.13a);
- a valid probation order, conditional release order, or parole order that subjects the abuser to conditions that are reasonably necessary to protect you or your child (for example, a condition that the abuser cannot contact you or your child); (Note: Any of the above-mentioned orders that you submit must still be in effect on the date you submit them); or
- a written police report that has resulted in criminal charges being filed by the prosecutor within the past 14 days (before you submit it to your landlord). If the criminal charges were filed more than 14 days before you submit your statement/documents to your landlord, you must also demonstrate a "verifiable threat" of present danger from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. You can submit a form signed by a qualified third party (such as a domestic violence advocate who has provided services to you) to demonstrate this “verifiable threat.”3 You can see the language that this form must include on our Statutes page under M.C.L. § 554.601b(3)(e).
1 M.C.L. § 554.601b(1)
2 M.C.L. § 554.601b(1),(2)
3 M.C.L. § 554.601b(3)
I have roommates. How will terminating my obligations under my lease affect them?
If your rental agreement includes other tenants, the other tenants are still required to fulfill the terms of the lease. The fact that the law allows you to be released from your lease due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking does not affect your roommates’ obligation to the landlord.1
1 M.C.L. § 554.601b(5)
After the lease is terminated
If my lease is terminated, does the landlord have to return my security deposit or any prepaid rent?
You are required to pay rent for the month after you give notice to your landlord. However, you are not obligated to pay rent as of the first day of the second month that rent is due after your notice is submitted, assuming that you have vacated the unit by then. For example, if you give the written statement and documents to your landlord on October 20th, you are required to pay November’s rent on November 1 but you are not required to pay rent on December 1st (assuming you are out of the apartment before December 1st). However, your landlord is not required to return any prepaid rent, including first and last months’ rent.
In terms of your security deposit, your landlord cannot keep your security deposit just because you are ending your lease early. Your landlord can only keep your security deposit if s/he would otherwise be allowed to under the law1 – for example, due to damage that you caused to the rental unit.2
1 M.C.L. § 554.601b(2)
2 M.C.L. § 554.607
Can the landlord share my new address/forwarding address with the abuser?
No. Your landlord can only share your forwarding address with others if it is reasonably necessary for the landlord to accomplish his/her regular and ordinary business. Your landlord cannot intentionally share your forwarding address (or the written statement you submitted) with the abuser.1
1 M.C.L. § 554.601b(4)