Student Legal Services

Top 10 Tips for Staying Safe in your Rental Housing

  1. Make sure there is a current certificate of compliance for the property you are renting:  The Ann Arbor Housing Code prohibits a landlord from leasing a unit if there is not a current certificate of compliance in effect for the unit. [See, Ann Arbor Housing Code Section 8:516 (4)]. The housing code requires that all rental property be periodically inspected to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the residents. To find out if your rental property has a current certificate of compliance, you can call the Ann Arbor Rental Housing Department at: (734) 794-6264.
  1. Make sure you lock your doors and windows:  Always lock your doors and windows! The Ann Arbor Housing Code requires that all windows and doors leading to the exterior of your unit have locking devices. [See, Ann Arbor Housing Code Section 8:503 (8)(a)]. If any lock in your unit is broken, you should contact your landlord immediately (in writing), to request repairs.
  1. Make sure your smoke and fire detection devices are functioning properly: The Ann Arbor Housing Code prohibits a landlord from leasing a unit which is not equipped with smoke or fire detection devices or with an automatic fire alarm system.  [See, Ann Arbor Housing Code Section 8:527]. Contact your landlord to make sure the smoke and fire detection devices are functioning properly.
  1. Make sure exterior lighting is working: Make sure all exterior lighting is working properly and kept on in the evening. Tell your landlord (in writing) if repairs are needed.
  1. Make sure you know who is entering your rental housing: Do not permit strangers to enter your unit. Inspectors, maintenance personnel, and contractors should provide proper identification before entering your home.
  1. Do not keep valuable property in plain view: Keep your shades and blinds closed to prevent those passing by from looking into your home.  Do not keep valuable property by the window or in the line of sight from the outside.
  1. Make sure your heat is working properly:   In the City of Ann Arbor, every rental unit should be capable of supplying heat to a temperature of at least 68°F, but not more than 85°F, for all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and toilet compartments, when the outdoor temperature is as low as -10°F. If you have inadequate heat during the winter, please contact Student Legal Services.
  1. Beware of subleasing scams: Be wary of prospective subtenants who contact you by email expressing an interest in renting a space sight-unseen. The Ann Arbor Police Department has confirmed a number of scams targeting students and landlords via email requesting to lease property.    If you have been scammed or to report suspicious activity, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's website to file a complaint.  
  1. Protect your rental housing while away for school break: If you will be away from your rental property for an extended period of time, you may want to notify your landlord.  Additionally, make sure you keep your heat on (in the winter) to prevent pipes from freezing, temporarily suspend delivery of your mail and newspaper, disconnect all power cords and appliances, and make sure all doors and windows have been secured.  If possible, have a friend or family member to periodically check on the property.
  1. Buy renter’s insurance: You should consider purchasing renter’s insurance to protect your personal property if it is lost, damaged, or stolen.  Renter’s insurance is generally reasonably priced and can be purchased through your insurance company.

To review the Ann Arbor Housing Code, you can go to its website.  For more information or to speak with Gayle Rosen, Student Legal Services’ landlord/tenant attorney, please call: (734) 763-9920.