HOUSE BILL NO. 4676

April 21, 2021, Introduced by Reps. Yancey, Kahle, Slagh, Posthumus, Tyrone Carter and Calley and referred to the Committee on Rules and Competitiveness.

A bill to amend 1972 PA 348, entitled

"An act to regulate relationships between landlords and tenants relative to rental agreements for rental units; to regulate the payment, repayment, use and investment of security deposits; to provide for commencement and termination inventories of rental units; to provide for termination arrangements relative to rental units; to provide for legal remedies; and to provide penalties,"

(MCL 554.601 to 554.616) by adding section 1c.

the people of the state of michigan enact:

Sec. 1c. (1) A tenant shall be released from his or her rental agreement and payment obligation in accordance with the requirements of this section if the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of any of the following crimes during the term of the rental agreement:

(a) Domestic violence.

(b) Sexual assault.

(c) Stalking.

(d) A crime that caused physical injury, psychological injury and a reasonably perceived or actual threat of physical injury, or death to the victim, regardless of whether the individual who committed the crime has been arrested or adjudicated.

(2) A tenant who intends to be released from his or her rental agreement and payment obligation under subsection (1) shall submit to the landlord a written notice of his or her intent to seek a release from his or her rental agreement and payment obligation and, unless notified otherwise under subsection (6), written documentation showing that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1). A rental agreement may include the following statement: "A tenant may have special statutory rights to seek a release of rental obligation under MCL 554.601c if the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or a crime that caused physical injury, psychological injury and a reasonably perceived or actual threat of physical injury, or death to the victim, regardless of whether the individual who committed the crime has been arrested or adjudicated.".

(3) The written notice required under subsection (2) must include a statement that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1) and that as a result of that crime, the tenant intends to relocate for the safety, physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, or financial security of the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member. For purposes of this section, a tenant is released, without penalty, from the rental agreement and his or her obligation to pay rent no later than the first day of the second month that rent is due after the written notice and written documentation, if necessary, are given. A release from a rental agreement and payment obligation under this section does not take effect before the tenant vacates the premises. The written notice required under subsection (2) must be made in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice to the landlord including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(a) By certified mail.

(b) By electronic mail. For purposes of this subdivision, the tenant must ensure that the notice is sent to an electronic mail address that the landlord or the landlord's representative provided to the tenant or previously used to communicate with the tenant.

(c) By personal delivery of the written notice to the landlord or the landlord's representative, signed by the tenant and the landlord or the landlord's representative, and of which the tenant retains a copy or image.

(d) In any other manner of transmitting written communication which the tenant has previously used to communicate with the landlord or the landlord's representative and the landlord has previously accepted, or which the landlord has notified the tenant is a manner of contacting the landlord or the landlord's representative. The manner of transmitting written communication under this subdivision includes, but is not limited to, text messages on a wireless 2-way communication device.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a release from a rental agreement and payment obligation under this section is not considered a breach of the rental agreement. A tenant that is released from a rental agreement and payment obligation under this section shall not forfeit any security deposit or rent advance paid to the landlord under the rental agreement. The provisions of this act or other applicable laws apply with regard to the retention or return of the tenant's security deposit or rent advance. This section does not affect a tenant's liability for unpaid rent or other amounts due and owed to the landlord before the release from the rental agreement and payment obligation under this section.

(5) The written notice required under subsection (2) is valid if submitted within 180 days of the date a document described in subsection (6)(a), (b), or (c) was issued or prepared or the date a crime described under subsection (1) occurred, whichever is later.

(6) Unless the landlord notifies the tenant in writing that written documentation is not needed, the tenant shall provide written documentation showing that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1). The requirement of this subsection is satisfied by providing 1 or more of the following documents to the landlord:

(a) A valid personal protection order, foreign protection order, or court order removing an abusive individual from a home under section 13a(4) of chapter XIIA of the probate code of 1939, 1939 PA 288, MCL 712A.13a. A document provided under this subdivision must be issued by a court of competent jurisdiction and must be in effect on the date the tenant submits the written notice required under subsection (2).

(b) A valid probation order, conditional release order, or parole order that is still in effect on the date the tenant submits the written notice required under subsection (2) if the probation order, conditional release order, or parole order indicates that the individual subject to the order is subject to conditions that are reasonably necessary to protect the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member, including a condition that the individual subject to the order should have no contact with the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member.

(c) A police report or a statement from a law enforcement officer detailing the circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime described under subsection (1).

(d) A court document showing proof of prosecution of a crime described under subsection (1).

(e) A written and signed certification from a qualified third party stating that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1). The certification required under this subdivision must include a statement that the qualified third party has provided services that are related to a crime described under subsection (1) to the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member.

(f) If the tenant is an immediate family or household member of a deceased victim of a crime described under subsection (1), a published obituary, a death certificate, or a written verification of the death, burial, or memorial service from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or medical examiner.

(g) Any other documentation authorized by state law or acceptable to the landlord that shows that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1).

(h) Any other documentation that reasonably verifies that the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1). Documentation submitted to the landlord under this subdivision may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

(i) A document from a third party that is substantially similar to a document under subdivision (c), (d), or (e).

(ii) Medical records showing injuries sustained by the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member that resulted from a crime described under subsection (1).

(iii) Written proof from the tenant that shows that a crime described under subsection (1) occurred. A written proof under this subparagraph may include, but is not limited to, any of the following from the perpetrator of the crime or between the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member and the perpetrator of the crime:

(A) Threatening electronic mail.

(B) Text messages.

(C) Voice messages.

(7) A landlord shall not terminate the rental agreement of a tenant or retaliate against a tenant solely because the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1).

(8) If an individual was previously released from a rental agreement and payment obligation under this section, a prospective landlord shall not do any of the following based solely on the fact that the individual was previously released from a rental agreement and payment obligation under this section:

(a) Refuse to enter into a rental agreement for a rental unit with that individual.

(b) Refuse to negotiate for the renting of a rental unit with that individual.

(c) Refuse to make a rental unit available for renting to that individual.

(9) The information contained in the written notice required under subsection (2), a document provided to the landlord under subsection (6), and the tenant's forwarding address are confidential. A landlord may not provide the information to any other person. This subsection does not apply if the information is contained in a document that is a public record. The landlord may disclose the information if any of the following apply:

(a) The tenant requests or consents in writing to the disclosure.

(b) The disclosure is required by a court order.

(c) The disclosure is necessary to accomplish the landlord's regular and ordinary business purpose. A landlord shall not intentionally disclose the information under this subdivision to an individual identified by the tenant as being the perpetrator of a crime described under subsection (1) or to an individual the landlord reasonably knows is the perpetrator of a crime described under subsection (1) against the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member.

(10) If a tenant or his or her immediate family or household member is a witness or victim of a crime described under subsection (1) and the tenant wishes to remain in the rental unit, the tenant may submit a written request notifying the landlord that the tenant intends to remain in the rental unit and request that the locks on that rental unit be changed. The written request submitted to the landlord under this subsection must be accompanied by 1 or more of the documents listed in subsection (6). The landlord shall, within 2 business days after the receipt of the written request and documentation under this subsection, make a good-faith effort to change the locks of the tenant's rental unit and provide the tenant with the key to the new locks, or give the tenant permission to change the locks at the landlord's expense. The landlord shall not provide the key to the new locks to an individual whom the landlord knows is the perpetrator of a crime described under subsection (1) against the tenant or his or her immediate family or household member. If the landlord does not change the locks of the tenant's rental unit or give the tenant permission to change the locks within 2 business days, the tenant may, notwithstanding any provision in the rental agreement to the contrary, rekey or change the locks without the landlord's permission and at the landlord's expense. The landlord shall reimburse the tenant for the actual expense incurred by the tenant in changing the locks. A tenant who changes the locks to the tenant's rental unit under this subsection shall do so in a workmanlike manner with locks of similar quality to the original lock, promptly notify the landlord that the locks have been changed, and provide keys to the new locks to the landlord at the landlord's request.

(11) The provisions of this section may not be waived or modified by a rental agreement.

(12) Nothing in this section prejudices a landlord's right to pursue available remedies against any other person under this act.

(13) As used in this section:

(a) "Domestic violence" means that term as defined in section 1 of 1978 PA 389, MCL 400.1501.

(b) "Foreign protection order" means that term as defined in section 2950h of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.2950h.

(c) "Immediate family or household member" means any of the following:

(i) A biological child, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, a child to whom the tenant stands in loco parentis, or an individual to whom the tenant stood in loco parentis when the individual was a child.

(ii) A parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, an individual who stands in loco parentis to the tenant, or an individual who stood in loco parentis to the tenant when the tenant was a child.

(iii) A biological, foster, step, or an adopted sibling.

(iv) A spouse.

(v) A fiancé, fiancée, or an individual who is in an intimate relationship with the tenant and who resides with the tenant in the rental unit.

(vi) An individual living in the rental unit with the tenant and who is related to the tenant by blood, adoption, or marriage.

(vii) An individual living in the rental unit with the tenant, who is not related to the tenant by blood, adoption, or marriage, but who has an established and emotional significant relationship with the tenant.

(d) "Personal protection order" means a personal protection order issued under section 2950 or 2950a of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.2950 and 600.2950a, and, unless the context indicates otherwise, includes a valid foreign protection order.

(e) "Qualified third party" means any of the following:

(i) A sexual assault or domestic violence counselor.

(ii) A health professional licensed or registered under article 15 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.16101 to 333.18838.

(iii) A mental health professional as defined in section 100b of the mental health code, 1974 PA 258, MCL 330.1100b.

(iv) A member of the clergy, if the clergy member is affiliated with a tax-exempt religious institution under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code of 1986, 26 USC 501.

(v) A person who is employed at or who volunteers service at a victim services organization or agency, and who, in that capacity, provides advice, counseling, or other assistance to victims of violent crimes and their families.

(f) "Sexual assault" means any act that violates section 520b, 520c, 520d, 520e, or 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520b, 750.520c, 750.520d, 750.520e, and 750.520g.

(g) "Sexual assault or domestic violence counselor" means that term as defined in section 1b.

(h) "Stalking" means that term as defined in section 411h or 411i of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.411h and 750.411i.

(i) "Victim" means an individual who suffers an injury as a direct result of a crime described under subsection (1).

(j) "Victim services organization" means an organization or agency that has a documented record of providing services to a victim of a crime described under subsection (1).

(k) "Witness" means an individual who witnessed any part of the commission of a crime described under subsection (1) and who is not the perpetrator of or an accomplice to the crime.