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Michigan Legislative Update for 2019-2020 Session

The legislature is in recess as of the date of this article, but here are a few outstanding bills that may see movement (or not) before the end of the year or the end of the 2019-20 session.

First up: Budget. As most people probably know, the Michigan legislature passed a budget in October but Governor Whitmer vetoed several line items. A resolution has yet to be found for adding back the vetoed items. None of the vetoed items impact the real estate or housing industry.

Other bills:

SB54 would restore the State Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Many investment property owners took advantage of this program in the past to improve their properties in historic districts. The RPOA of Michigan (RPOA-M) supports this bill.

SB602 & HB5157 would disallow landlords from screening out applicants that are victims of domestic violence. The RPOA-M is opposed to the bills as written. On the face of it, the bill seems fair. However, it does not take into account the necessity of landlords to protect and provide quiet enjoyment for other tenants. Changes to the bill are being sought. Both bills have been referred to committee but neither have seen action.

SB603 & HB5154 would prohibit local government from imposing sanctions or penalties on a landlord or tenant for certain contacts made to policy or emergency services. In some communities, such as Holland and Saginaw, landlords are forced to eviction tenants where the police have been summoned to the property repeatedly. This bill would prevent such actions. Both bills have been referred to committee but neither have seen action. The bills will likely see strong opposition by the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the cities in which such laws exist. The RPOA-M supports the bills.

SB608-610 & HB4910-4911 would address issues that landlords and other businesses experience regarding service and assistance animals. The bills would, in summary: Enable a landlord to evict a tenant that was found to have falsified a need for a service or assistance animal. Clarifies that a service animal is not an emotional support animal. Creates regulations that would require a six-month doctor-patient relationship before a doctor could prescribe the need for a service or assistance/emotional support animal and other various regulations related to tenants requiring such animals. The bills also require a notarized letter or questionnaire that is signed and dated be provided to the landlord or prospective landlord upon request to prove a need for an emotional support animal. RPOA-M supports the bills. One hearing has been held on the package of bills. Several opponents to the bill came out in full force. Modifications are expected to be made to the bills. There is some hope that the bills will pass before the end of the session in some form.

HB4050 is a bill that would prohibit uncapping of assessed/taxable value upon the transfer of property into an LLC as long as the same owners are involved. RPOA-M supports the bills. The bill has not yet be heard in committee.

HB4160 would remove the requirement that employees of property management companies hold a real estate license—as long as they are employees and not subcontractors. The RPOA-M supports the bill. No hearing has been held on the bill.

HB4554-4563 is a package of bills drafted to address the issue of local governments basically outlawing short-term rentals using zoning and other means. In short, the bills would not allow zoning to be used to ban short-term rentals but would leave locals the flexibility of regulating them. The package of bills would change the Grand Rapids ordinance which disallows short-term rentals where an owner does not live and limits the total number of overall short-term rentals. However, GR could continue to regulate as it currently does for short-term rentals that are allowed. A major fight has ensued over this package of bills by the Michigan REALTORS Association and the RPOA-M on one side and the MML, municipalities and hotel advocates on the other. At the time of this writing, no compromise is in sight—however, the RPOA-M remains hopeful that something can be done to improve the current situation and prevent localities from banning all short-term rentals outright.

HB 4509 if passed, would allow single member and spouse owned LLCs to represent themselves in landlord-tenant cases in district court. The bill has passed the House and is no in the Senate Judiciary Committee. No action is expected on the bill until next year.


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