Understanding Michigan Fair Housing Laws

Instructor: Tara Schofield
Michigan's fair housing laws provide protection for real estate clients. Learn how the laws shield buyers or renters from being discriminated against and what change requests are feasible.

What Are Michigan Fair Housing Laws?

There are federal laws that protect citizens from being discriminated against and denied housing based on illegal factors. The Michigan fair housing laws take the federal laws a little further and ensure that a person cannot be discriminated against in home sales, rentals, purchases, leases, advertising of housing, or home financing. The protected categories include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and disability. Another protected status includes familial status, which ensures pregnant women and children under 18 living with their parents or guardian are not discriminated against.

Let's look at an example of Michigan fair housing laws in practice. Say you have a client who is Buddhist and looking at homes in a neighborhood that is primarily Christian. Your client finds a home she likes and wants to make an offer. The seller learns of the buyer's religious beliefs and declines the offer she makes to purchase the home purely due to the seller's own religious preferences. This is in defiance of Michigan fair housing laws. Likewise, the seller could not reject an offer based on any of the other protected classes, such as race, sex, familial status, disability, etc.

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1976 and broadens the fair housing laws. Under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, the parties involved in any real estate transaction or rental situation cannot be discriminated against based on age or marital status. Nor can people be discriminated against for height or weight factors. This act protects older or single clients who may be discriminated against without legal protection. Additionally, the act protects younger consumers who are of at least legal age and of any marital status.

The Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act

Michigan also adheres to the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, ensuring landlords, sellers, or other providers do not deny individuals with disabilities the right to purchase or lease a home or an apartment. Additionally, reasonable modifications to a property cannot be refused. For example, you can ask a landlord to provide a larger parking space if a handicap vehicle is needed. This is a fair and reasonable request that should be honored by the landlord.

In the event a modification is needed, the tenant is responsible for the change, assuming the home or apartment meets building codes. One thing to understand is that your client can ask for an accommodation but if significant changes to the home or building are needed or changes to the structure are required, the change may not be deemed reasonable.

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