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How long does a landlord have to sue a tenant after they move out for damages?

Camden, MI |

I have been moved out since 4/30/09. My landlord had not sent or communicated any damages. I took him to court yesterday 8/31/09 for my security deposit and this was the first I heard of damages. He had told me everything was fine when I spoke to him last.

Attorney Answers 1


The answer depends on whether the landlord is making a damages claim against the security deposit (which it sounds like the landlord is), whether or not you provided the landlord with a forwarding address.

The tenant must notify the landlord in writing within four (4) days after termination of occupancy of an address at which communications may be received. MCL 554.611. If the tenant does not do so, then the landlord probably is not required to send any notice of a claim of damages to the tenant.

If the tenant provides the forwarding address and if the landlord claims damage to the rental unit or other obligation against the security deposit, the landlord must mail an itemized list of damages claimed, including the estimated cost of repair of each damaged item and the amounts and basis on which the landlord intends to assess the tenant to the tenant within thirty (30) days after the termination of occupancy. MCL 554.609.

If the landlord claims damages to the rental unit and gives notice of damages, the tenant must respond within seven (7) days after receipt of the landlord’s notice, indicating in detail the tenant's agreement or disagreement to the damages listed. The date the tenant mails the response is considered the date of the tenant’s response. MCL 554.612.

If the tenant objects to the claimed damages, the landlord must commence an action in court to adjudicate the rights to the security deposit within forty-five (45) days after termination of the occupancy. MCL 554.613.

Failure of the landlord to comply fully with MCL 554.613 constitutes waiver of all claimed damages and makes the landlord liable to the tenant for double the amount of the security deposit retained. MCL 554.613(2).

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