The roles of landlords and tenants: Part 2

The role of the tenant.

December 31, 2014 - Author: Moses Cantu, Michigan State University Extension

When a tenant signs a rental lease agreement, a certain amount of responsibilities are assumed by the tenant. The lease is a legally enforceable contract which defines the relationship between a landlord, the lessor, and a tenant, the lessee. The lease will define the role of the tenant and their obligations. It is imperative both parties thoroughly read and understand all terms of a lease agreement prior to signing it to legally protect themselves. Here is a list of common tenant obligations and responsibilities.

  • Pay rent when due.
  • Be considerate of the landlord’s and other tenants’ rights.
  • Not destroy, damage or deface the premises, or allow anyone else to do so.
  • Keep the premises as clean and sanitary as the condition of the premises permits.
  • Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner
  • Not do anything that would put other tenants or the residential premises or common property in danger
  • Not perform illegal acts or do illegal business on the premises.
  • Not commit a substantial breach of the residential tenancy agreement or lease.
  • If the locks are changed during the tenancy, provide a key to the landlord.
  • Obtain written permission from the landlord to sublet the residential premises
  • Use the premises as a place to live, and use the rooms for their proper purposes. For example, the bedroom must be used as a bedroom and not as a kitchen.
  • Not remove any part of the structure, dwelling unit, facilities, equipment or appurtenances, or allow anyone else to do so.

Remember: Tenants do much more than pay rent. Just as the landlord has duties and obligations to the tenant, the tenant must also adhere to certain responsibilities to the landlord. Know your responsibilities as a tenant and make sure to read your lease agreement carefully.

Michigan State University Extension offers financial management and home ownership education classes. For more information about classes in your area, visit either the MSU Extension Events feed or

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Tags: homeownership, mi money health, money management, msu extension

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