Attorney discusses renters' rights - WNEM TV 5

Attorney discusses renters' rights

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Rent is paid up, but the water is shut off at a local apartment complex.

TV5 first brought you the story of the desperate tenants Wednesday at Glen Acres in Flint.

In Mid-Michigan residents have been paying their rent and having their water shut off. Cities and towns are cutting off utilities because landlords haven't paid their bills and renters are left high and dry.

"If the lease does say that the landlord is responsible for paying for the water and sewer then the tenants have a right for that to be provided," said Kristi Kozubal, Bay City attorney.

She said under Michigan law a landlord who doesn't provide services agreed to under a lease is guilty of something called constructive eviction.

"That gives, by law, the tenants a remedy to damages and a right to regain possession under the law in court," Kozubal said.

Kozubal also referenced the condemnation notices posted on Glen Acres buildings this week asking tenants to move out within 24 hours.

She said those are not eviction notices and legally there's not much the city can do to force tenants out.

"They will have to go to court first through the summary proceedings, act and obtain eviction just like a landlord would have to and that does take a certain amount of time, certainly more than 24 hours," Kozubal said.

As for tips to avoiding situations like this Kozubal stresses that future renters should pay close attention to the wording of their lease, and find out as much as possible about the property owner before signing off. 

"Getting to know your landlord on a person to person basis I think is something that is good information for all tenants everywhere," Kozubal said.

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