Citywide effort to bring all rental properties in Detroit into compliance

DETROIT, MI – Those owning rental properties in Detroit have been put on notice to bring your properties in compliance or the weight of city government will become very heavy.

City of Detroit building inspectors will begin their efforts on Feb. 1 to identify every rental property in Detroit and have them registered in compliance with city codes.  The goal of the new ordinance is to ensure that every renter in Detroit is living in a property that is safe and up to code by the middle of 2020.

Starting Feb. 1, all rental properties in the first compliance area – ZIP code 48215 on the city’s east side – will have 90 days (May 1) to get their properties registered as rentals with the city.  Under the new city rental property ordinance approved late last year by the City Council, building owners will have six months to bring their properties up to code, have them inspected and obtain a certificate of compliance from the city.

Approximately each month, a new ZIP code will be added, beginning its six-month compliance period. In the next two weeks, informational brochures will be sent to every residence in 48215 — and later to every residential address in each subsequent ZIP code just prior to the beginning of its compliance period.

Mayor Mike Duggan, Councilman Andre Spivey and the city’s buildings safety director, Dave Bell, announced the initial compliance enforcement schedule today at Dickerson Manor apartments on the city’s east side.

“Starting February 1st, we are going to start moving across the city in a systematic way to make sure that anyone who lives in a rental property is living in safe and healthy environment for their families,” Mayor Duggan said.  “As part of this new approach, we are going to support good landlords and give renters greater protection against those who are not keeping their buildings in good condition.”

The schedule for the first six ZIP codes is as follows:

ZIP CODE             Launch Date                       Registration Date                            Compliance Date

48215                    February 1, 2018               May 1, 2018                                       August 1, 2018

48224                    March 1, 2018                  June 1, 2018                                 September 1, 2018

48223                    May 1, 2018                      August 12018                              November 1, 2018

48219                    June 1, 2018                     September 12018                         December 1, 2018

48209                    July 1, 2018                      October 1, 2018                                January 1, 2019

49210                    August 1 2018                   November 1 2018                             February 1 2019

“These changes will help us protect the thousands of Detroiters who rent and to make stronger neighborhoods for everyone,” said Councilman Spivey.

Protections for tenants:

  • The ability for tenants to pay rent into an escrow account if the landlord does not obtain a certificate of compliance by the end of the six-month compliance period. Those funds will be inaccessible to the landlord until they have passed all inspections and receive a certificate of compliance.  If after 90 days the landlord does not obtain a certificate of compliance, the rent held in escrow will be returned to the tenant, and then every 60 days after that.
  • The ability for the city to withhold certificates of compliance to landlords who are more than one year delinquent on their property taxes.
  • Creation of a public website that will let the public know whether properties are registered with the city as a rental and, if so, whether it has a certificate of compliance
  • Landlords will not be able to evict any tenant of a non-compliant building solely for withholding rent.

Support for good landlords:

  • The city will provide landlords an expedited process for appealing the denial or suspension of a certificate of compliance.
  • Less frequent inspections required for quality landlords who, for at least one year, have remained current on their taxes and have received no blight violations.  The ordinance would extend certifications from one year to two years for multi-family dwellings and to three years for one- and two-family dwellings.
  • Maintaining annual lead risk assessments. Under the ordinance, all rental properties — even those with two- or three-year certifications — will require an annual lead risk assessment and clearance. The annual assessment can be waived only if the property owner has taken more long-term or permanent measures to abate the lead.

“We’ve got to increase the quality of life for the neighbors and the tenants in the city of Detroit,” said Bell, director of the Buildings, Safety Engineering & Environmental Department. “We can’t do that without getting rid of unnecessary requirements and providing an adequate amount of time for the landlord’s to come into compliance. This ordinance creates a win for everyone and moves the neighborhoods forward.”

Inspection Timelines

Bell pointed out that while compliance efforts will be conducted a ZIP code at a time, his inspectors still will respond to complaints of health and safety violations citywide as they arise. He also said his team will be able to conduct inspections in the active enforcement zone within four days of a request. Requests for inspections that fall outside of the active enforcement zone will be conducted within 30 days. To prepare for this, the City has added seven additional inspectors and partnered with four outside inspection companies to get inspections done in a timelier manner.

Getting Certified: How to get started

Owners of rental buildings can start their process today by registering their property online at  To help owners registered of one- and two-family rental buildings get their inspections done as soon as possible, the city has listed on this website the names and contact information for the private company partners that have been approved to do that work.  City BSEED staff will continue to conduct all inspections at larger multi-unit apartment buildings.

There are nearly 40,000 rental properties in the city, the majority of which are not properly registered and have no current certificate of compliance.  In 2015, the city launched a process to encourage more landlords to register their properties.  Since that time, the city has increased its number of registered rental properties from about 2,000 to more than 6,000 today.

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