Rental Property FAQ - What Landlords & Tenants Should Know

Blight Violations

BSED will aggressively enforce blight violations.  Violators should remember that it’s not enough to pay penalties.  Violators must correct problems.  If not, a second or third violation may be issued with a higher fine

Certificate of Rental Registration

A Certificate of Rental Registration is free of charge and is an advantage for landlords when potential tenants are seeking a place to rent.  Landlords that are in compliance with the City of Detroit Codes and Ordinances have a greater chance of licensing their property.  According to the City of Detroit Property Maintenance Code (Chapter 8), if a dwelling is not an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, then it is considered residential rental property.  Residential rental properties include: 1 and 2-family homes, apartment buildings, rooming houses, etc. as well as rooms rented within a single-family, owner-occupied home.

To receive a Certificate of Rental Registration, the owner is required to:

  • Fill out a rental registration form and submit it to the Building Safety Engineering & Environmental Department and the certificate will be mailed to the owner or their representative. Missing content item.
Certificate of Compliance

A Certificate of Compliance is required for all commercial buildings, structures and residential rental properties in the City of Detroit, with the exception of single-family, owner-occupied dwellings.  The Certificate of Compliance means, that the property was inspected and meets the minimum requirements of the Detroit Property Maintenance Code and/or Zoning Ordinance.  The Certificate of Compliance is valid for three years for residential properties.


To receive a Certificate of Compliance on a Residential rental property or Commercial property, the owner is required to:

  • Have a complete and current inspection of the property that is not older than one (1) year.
  • Complete all repairs listed on the correction order.
  • Call for a re-inspection for verification that the repairs have been completed in a workmanlike manner.
  • Have a valid Certificate of Rental Registration, if applicable.
  • Comply with all provisions of a Special Land Zone Grant, if applicable.
  • Pay all inspection fees that have been assessed.
Inspections Residential Property

The Property Maintenance Division of the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department is responsible for conducting Residential Inspections in the City of Detroit. The Inspection types are as follows:

     Annual periodic rental inspections

         1 & 2 family dwellings
         Hotels, Motels, Apartments, Rented Condos, Cooperatives
         Shelters & Rooming Houses

     Complaint inspections
     Annual and Complaint re-inspections for compliance
     Emergency Re-inspections (Life/Safety conditions)
     Vacant Building Maintenance Inspections
     Area survey sweep inspections of suspected rental property
     Health Department will notify BSEED of Lead Poisoned Children cases. BSEED will investigate the property.


Housing should be well maintained and safe

All renters are entitled to live in housing that is well maintained and safe.  Renters are encouraged to report rental properties that require inspection and repair.  Tenants can arrange for an inspection (at no cost to them) by calling (313) 224-2733 .

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Smoke detectors


Sec. 8-15-311. - Smoke detectors.

(a)All existing one- and two-family dwellings not already provided with single-station smoke alarms shall be provided with approved single-station smoke alarms.

(b)Approved single-station smoke alarms shall be installed within, or immediately outside of, sleeping areas on each level of existing rental dwelling units.

(c) In existing one- and two-family dwellings, single-station smoke alarms shall be battery-operated or shall receive their primary power from the building wiring, provided, that such wiring is served from a commercial source and, in the case of an interruption in the primary power, a battery backup is provided. When power is provided by the building wiring, the wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than those required for overcurrent protection.


Sec. 8-15-111. - Graffiti and defacement; duty to remove. It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully or wantonly damage, deface or mutilate any exterior surface of any building, premises, or structure on any private or public property by placing thereon any carving, graffiti, marking, or painting.

Cleanliness of the property

Owners and renters are responsible for the cleanliness of the property.  If a Blight Violation Notice is issued, the Department of Administrative Hearings (DAH) may order one party to pay the entire fine or may split the fine between the owner and the tenant.

Prohibited items
  • Items, such as auto parts, building materials, household items, or commercial equipment, should not be stored in yards.
  • Commercial, recreational or inoperable vehicles cannot be stored on residential property.
  • Vehicles of any kind cannot be parked on unpaved portions of a yard, including front or back lawns.
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