The Paletz Law Blog

Here They Come Again: Another Package of Michigan Legislation Aims to Demand Landlords Accept Vouchers and Government Subsidies

June 3rd, 2024 | By: Matthew I. Paletz, Esq.

The Michigan House of Representatives is reviving efforts to prohibit landlords with five or more units from denying prospective renters using housing vouchers or other government subsidies to pay their rent.

A package of bills (Senate Bills 205, 206 and 207 and House Bills 4062 and 4063) would allow renters to file for damages and a discrimination complaint if the landlords refuse to accept the subsidies. The bills have left the committee on party lines but have not yet been introduced on the floor of the Michigan House or Senate. But they’re coming.

Again, while we believe that source of income laws are well-intentioned, they also create additional and burdensome administrative and financial hurdles for property owners. This issue continues to deter us from recommending the passage of these bills.

Another factor is the less-than-savory means the current batch of bills is being pushed forward, as depicted in this exchange recorded in a recent edition of Michigan Advance. Kudos to Rep. Andrew Fink for calling out Rep. Jason Morgan for attempting to disguise these source of income bills as affording military veterans the right to housing, which no one has ever shown is an issue in Michigan at this time.

Rep. Jason Morgan: “We have seen folks denied from housing based on their source of income over and over again,” he told the committee. “As chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, we’ve been working really hard to ensure that every veteran has a safe place to live in our state. In this effort, the department has shared on more than one occasion that our veterans are facing discrimination due to their source of income in our state. Let me emphasize this again. “Today in Michigan, there are currently veterans facing discrimination in housing. We need to end that.”

Rep. Fink, a Marine veteran, then asked how many veterans in Michigan were being affected by landlord income discrimination.

Rep. Morgan: “It’s a small percentage. I don’t know the exact number, but the point is any veteran that faces housing discrimination because they’re receiving their rightful veteran benefits for housing should not face discrimination.”

Rep. Fink: “It’s a tiny percentage. I just think it’s, at best, obfuscatory to make this bill about veterans when it applies to all kinds of subsidized housing, and it’s a tiny percentage of that that’s about veterans. It would be a different conversation if it was really about that.”

As we’ve pointed out before, it’s more than evident that the intent here is to provide housing for unhoused individuals and put more money in their hands. However, what will not happen in these cases is that once a participant in these programs is vetted by the agency to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, then the funds provided by the housing program will be given to a landlord without any strings attached. There should be no invasion of a landlord’s private property rights nor any intrusion in their contractual rights, but this will also not be the case.

Legislatively enacted “one size fits all” edicts, like this package of bills, do not work in a state like Michigan, which is highly diverse between urban, suburban, and rural areas. Plus, in participating in these programs, property owners are forced to give away their right to terminate the lease at the end of the contract term. In other words, an end to “at-will tenancy.”

We fear that restrictions on private property ownership like these will end up forcing property owners to move to another less restrictive state and impact the overall inventory of housing available, which we all know is in short supply in this economy.

The Bottom Line: We implore our landlord and property owner clients to call their elected representatives and ask them not to support this package of anti-landlord legislation.


The information contained in this article is only meant to be a basic overview and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without the advice of an attorney. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or otherwise be disseminated without the prior written consent of Paletz Law.

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