Michigan Rent Control Laws in 2024

Michigan's Statewide Ban on Rent Control  

Michigan passed a statewide ban on rent control in 1988. This law prohibits local governments from enacting rent control ordinances to limit how much landlords can raise rents each year. 

The ban was passed through the state legislature and signed into law by the governor at the time. It remains in effect today, over 30 years later. Under the law, cities, towns, counties and other municipalities in Michigan are restricted from imposing any form of rent control, even if they believe it's necessary to make housing more affordable for their residents.

The statewide ban applies to all rental properties, including apartments, single family homes, condominiums and mobile homes. It also prohibits policies like rent stabilization, which limit rent increases to a certain percentage each year based on inflation.

As a result of the ban, landlords in Michigan have broad powers to raise rents without any caps or limits. There is no state law restricting how much landlords can increase rent from year to year. The market dynamics of supply and demand primarily determine rental rates.

Advocates for repealing the rent control ban argue that it strips local governments of the ability to address rising housing costs based on local needs. However, the 1988 law remains firmly in place, with no changes made by the state legislature since it was first enacted. Rent control at the local level remains prohibited throughout Michigan.

Rising Rents in Michigan Cities 

Rent prices in cities across Michigan have been rising steadily in recent years. Some of the largest increases have been in popular and fast-growing areas like Ann Arbor and Detroit.

According to data from Apartment List, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ann Arbor rose over 20% from January 2020 to January 2022, increasing from $1,130 to $1,360. The rents in Ann Arbor remain significantly above the national median of $1,097 for a one-bedroom.  

Detroit has also seen major rent increases, with the median one-bedroom rent rising nearly 15% over the same period. Rents for two-bedroom apartments in Detroit surpassed $1,000 for the first time in 2021.  

Other Michigan cities seeing significant rent hikes include Grand Rapids, where rents were up 12% from 2020 to 2022, and Lansing, where rents increased nearly 20%. Demand has been high in these growing cities, putting upward pressure on prices.  

The state as a whole saw the median one-bedroom rent rise over 15% from just before the pandemic to 2022, according to Apartment List data. Rents had remained relatively flat in Michigan in the years prior to 2020. The recent run-up in rents reflects trends seen nationally as well.

Efforts to Repeal the Rent Control Ban

In recent years, there have been growing efforts to repeal Michigan's statewide ban on rent control. With rents rising rapidly in many cities, advocates argue that some form of rent stabilization policies are needed to make housing more affordable. 

Several proposals have been introduced in the Michigan legislature to lift the prohibition on local rent control ordinances. In 2021, House Bill 4947 was introduced by Representative Yousef Rabhi which would repeal the rent control ban enacted in 1988. However, the bill faced strong opposition from landlord groups and was not brought up for a vote. 

In 2022, a package of bills referred to as the "Tenant's Rights Package" was introduced by Democrats in the legislature. One of the bills, House Bill 5890 sponsored by Representative Darrin Camilleri, would repeal the prohibition on rent regulation and allow cities to enact policies like rent control. But similar to previous efforts, the bills were opposed by the real estate industry and did not advance.

While there is growing momentum behind repealing the statewide preemption, lifting the ban faces significant challenges in Michigan's Republican-controlled legislature. The real estate and landlord lobby have strongly resisted attempts to repeal the rent control ban. Advocates continue to organize and build support for overturning the prohibition, but major legislative action in the near future remains unlikely given the political dynamics.

Arguments For Rent Control

Rent control policies aim to protect tenants and neighborhoods from some of the negative effects of rapidly rising housing costs. Advocates argue rent control helps prevent price gouging, arbitrary evictions, and displacement of long-term residents. 

By limiting how much rents can increase each year, rent control seeks to provide housing stability and affordability for tenants. This can be especially important for low-income residents and fixed-income seniors on tight budgets. Rent control offers them predictability, ensuring their housing costs won't spike unexpectedly from one year to the next.

Proponents contend that rent control also helps preserve the character of neighborhoods over the long run. Rapid rent increases can push out long-time residents and businesses that give a neighborhood its unique culture. Rent control enables more residents to remain in place even as rents rise around them. This stability and continuity can strengthen community ties.  

Overall, rent control aims to curb excessive rent hikes driven solely by profit rather than real property costs. It tries to balance housing as a commodity with housing as a basic need and right. Reasonable limits on annual increases can promote affordability and stability without eliminating landlords' ability to earn fair returns on their investments.

Arguments Against Rent Control

Rent control policies are controversial and criticized by many economists and policy experts. Here are some of the main arguments against rent control:

Discourages New Housing Construction

Critics argue that rent control discourages new housing construction by reducing profits for developers. With rent control, developers make less money on new buildings which reduces the incentive to build. 

This causes the housing supply to grow slower, especially affordable units. When supply is constrained, it intensifies competition for the limited housing available which drives prices up.

Therefore, some economists believe rent control could make housing affordability worse in the long run by hindering supply.

Decreases Maintenance and Quality

Landlords may invest less in maintaining and improving properties subject to rent control since their rental income is limited.

Rent control reduces the funds available for renovations, repairs, and upgrades. Properties can deteriorate over time which brings down the quality of housing.

Tenants living in rent-controlled units could be stuck with outdated or poorly maintained apartments.

Inefficient Allocation of Housing

Rent control can cause some tenants to stay in a unit longer than they otherwise would. This makes it harder for new households to find available units.

Some economists argue this leads to an inefficient allocation of housing resources and reduces housing mobility.

Administrative Burdens

Implementing rent control requires administrative oversight and bureaucracy. A government agency is needed to handle policy details like allowable rent increases, petitions, disputes, etc.

Monitoring and enforcing the policy incurs significant costs for taxpayers. However, others counter these costs are worthwhile to provide affordable housing.

Counterproductive Long Term

While rent control provides short-term relief, critics contend it is counterproductive and unsustainable. 

They argue it treats the symptom (high rents) rather than the underlying cause - insufficient housing supply.

Some see rent control as a "quick fix" that ultimately undermines creating lasting housing affordability. They prefer alternatives like incentivizing construction.

Rent Control Laws in Other States

A few states have some form of statewide rent control or limitations on rent increases. 

Oregon passed a statewide rent control law in 2019 that caps annual rent increases at 7% plus inflation. The law applies to buildings 15 years or older and exempts new construction. Cities in Oregon can enact lower caps. 

California passed a statewide rent cap in 2019 limiting increases to 5% plus inflation per year. It applies to buildings 15 years or older. Local governments in California can impose stricter rent control.

New York has a system of rent stabilization rather than strict caps on rent increases. Landlords can only raise rents by a set percentage determined yearly by a local rent guidelines board. There are also exceptions for major capital improvements. 

New Jersey also allows local governments to enact rent control ordinances, but does not have a statewide policy. About 50 municipalities in New Jersey have some form of rent stabilization laws.

A few other states like Maryland and Washington D.C. also allow localities to implement rent control. In total, about 200 cities and counties nationwide have enacted rent stabilization policies to make housing more affordable.

Options for Renters in Michigan

Renters in Michigan do have some protections and recourse even though statewide rent control is prohibited. Knowing your rights as a tenant and where to turn for help can provide some security.

Some key organizations that advocate for tenants' rights and provide assistance in Michigan include:

Provides free legal advice and referral services for low-income renters facing issues like evictions.

United Community Housing Coalition

A Detroit-based nonprofit that helps renters understand their rights and responsibilities. Offers counseling and dispute resolution. 

Michigan Poverty Law Program

A legal services group that assists renters with housing cases, especially evictions and habitability issues.

If a landlord imposes an unreasonable rent increase, tenants have a few options:


Open a dialogue with the landlord to discuss the increase and negotiate a lower amount. Offer to sign a longer lease in exchange.


Tenants can join together and collectively appeal to the landlord against large increases. Strength in numbers.

Small claims court

Seek a judgment that the increase exceeds market rates and violates the terms of the lease. The threat of court action may motivate a landlord to reconsider.

Withhold rent

Tenants can withhold rent if the unit has habitability issues that violate housing codes. This gives leverage in rent increase disputes. 

Break the lease

If the rent hike makes the unit unaffordable, tenants may be legally allowed to terminate the lease early without penalty in some cases.

Renters dealing with unreasonable rent increases should document everything in writing and consult local tenant advocacy groups to understand their rights and options before deciding how to proceed.

Expanding Affordable Housing Supply

In addition to rent control, expanding the overall supply of affordable rental housing is seen by many as a key way to improve rental affordability in Michigan. Here are some of the options policymakers and housing advocates are considering:

Inclusionary zoning laws

Requiring developers to set aside a certain percentage of new housing units in a building or neighborhood for affordable housing. This expands the supply of lower-cost units.

Density bonuses

Allowing developers to build at higher densities than zoning rules permit if they include affordable units. This incentivizes new affordable housing construction.

Land trusts

Nonprofit acquires land and maintains long-term ownership, while leasing out units to lower-income residents. This takes land costs out of the equation.

Public housing

Federal and state governments provide subsidies for housing authorities to build and maintain affordable public housing units. Expanding this stock is an option. 

Rental assistance programs

Providing vouchers or subsidies so lower-income residents can afford market-rate units. This expands their rental options.

Adaptive reuse

Converting old buildings into affordable housing units. This cost-effectively expands supply.

Reducing parking minimums

Lowering the parking requirements for new housing, which reduces development costs. Savings can be passed to tenants.

Streamlining approvals

Speeding up and simplifying the approval process for new housing. This reduces costs and timeframe to add supply.

Many argue that focusing on expanding affordable housing, rather than rent control, is a better long-term solution for improving rental affordability in Michigan and other states.

State Legislature's Role

The current statewide ban on rent control was enacted through legislation passed by Michigan's state legislature and signed into law by the governor in 1988. Repealing the ban would require similar legislative action at the state level. 

Bills have been introduced in the Michigan House and Senate over the years that aim to lift the prohibition on local rent control ordinances. However, these efforts have failed to gain traction amid opposition from the real estate and landlord industries. Groups like the Michigan Realtors and the Michigan Apartment Association have lobbied aggressively against repealing the rent control ban.

In 2022, House Bill 4947 was introduced by Rep. Darrin Camilleri, a Democrat representing parts of Wayne County. The bill would allow local governments to establish rent stabilization ordinances to limit how much rents could increase year over year. Landlord groups spoke out strongly against the bill during committee hearings. The legislation did not advance out of committee during the 2022 legislative session. 

For the statewide ban on rent control to be repealed, legislative leaders in the Republican-controlled Michigan House and Senate would need to allow a repeal bill to the floor for a vote. Given the influence of groups representing landlord interests, overturning the ban faces significant political challenges. Rent control advocates argue the policy is needed to address rising housing costs, but securing enough support to pass a repeal in the legislature remains an uphill battle.

Future Outlook for Rent Control in Michigan

The debate around repealing Michigan's statewide ban on rent control is likely to intensify as rents continue rising rapidly in many cities. However, overturning the decades-old law faces substantial challenges.

While tenant advocates will continue pushing for rent control as a tool to make housing more affordable, landlords and the real estate industry are staunchly opposed and wield significant influence in the state legislature. They argue rent control would discourage new construction and maintenance of rental properties. 

For any legislative change to occur, backers of rent control will need to build a broad coalition of supporters, make the case to skeptical lawmakers, and overcome expected industry opposition. Even if a bill makes it through the legislature, it could face legal challenges arguing it violates property rights.  

The statewide ban has proven difficult to dislodge since being enacted in 1988. Previous efforts to repeal it have stalled. While rising rents may add momentum to the cause, changing state law remains an uphill battle.

Yet proponents believe rent control is urgently needed to prevent price gouging and displacement, and keep neighborhoods affordable for the long-term. As conditions worsen for tenants, activists will continue pressing legislators to lift the prohibition on local rent regulations.  

With housing costs squeezing household budgets statewide, the rent control debate in Michigan is likely to heat up. But transforming public support into policy change through the state legislature poses a formidable challenge.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum a landlord can raise rent in Michigan?

Michigan does not impose a statewide cap on how much a landlord can raise rent. Rent increases are typically governed by the lease agreement, and any increase must be communicated according to the terms of the lease or provided with adequate notice if the lease is month-to-month.

What is the new rental law in Michigan?

The most recent changes in Michigan's rental laws tend to focus on tenant protections, including requirements for landlords to disclose more information about utility payments and the maintenance of rental properties. Since these laws can evolve, it's advisable to consult a legal professional or the latest legislative updates for the most accurate information.

What's the most my landlord can raise my rent?

In Michigan, there's no legal limit on how much a landlord can increase rent, as long as the increase adheres to the terms of the lease agreement or, for a month-to-month tenancy, is provided with appropriate notice.

How much notice is required for rent increase in Michigan?

For month-to-month tenancies in Michigan, a landlord must typically provide at least a 30-day written notice before increasing the rent. For longer leases, the terms of the lease agreement will dictate how and when rent increases can occur.

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