Question: What are non-refundable fees?

Answer:  Michigan Rental Laws has no Statue (i.e. limitation) regarding non-refundable fees which includes cleaning fee, and pet fee.  Basic rule is the fees must be reasonable.

A “pet fee” or "pet cleaning fee" is simply the one-time admission price to have a pet in the rental. It doesn’t typically cover any damages the pet might cause.  Some landlords use this fee in lieu of "Pet Rent" of $50-$100 per pet on a monthly basis.  The fee attempts to cover the cost to clean, disinfect and sanitize whole house ducts ($265 - $472), or any other places (dryer/washer/top of cabinets) that are not routinely cleaned where dander and allergens may have accumulated.   Companies charge extra for use of chemicals to disinfect and sanitize.  The goal is to remove any pet dander and allergens so that landlord don’t have to exclude future tenants with allergies.

A "cleaning fee" is cost for the owner to prep the property to rent again.  The fee is used steam clean carpet ($120-$235), initial whole house deep cleaning after move-out ($150-$200), specialty cleaning such as bath grout ($80-$120 per bath), and final cleaning ($75-$125) is just prior to new tenant moves in.  These services are performed by different contractors, and unique fees for each.  A "cleaning fee" charged by landlord is usually NOT sufficient to cover for preping the property to rent again.  Therefore, this fee does not take away tenant responsibility to routinely clean the property.   

Question: What is a Security Deposit and what is it used for?

Answer:  Michigan Rental Laws Statue on Security Deposit is "Not to exceed 1 1/2 months’ rent (§§ 554.602)".  The security deposit is used by the landlord for actual damages directly resulting from conduct not reasonably expected through normal wear and tear.  Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days (§§ 554.610) upon tenant move-out.  A tenant may not opt to use the security deposit as last month rent, or early termination fee.

Question: What is early termination fee and what is it used for?

Answer: Michigan Rental Laws has no Staute (i.e. limitation) regarding early termination fee which is typically charged for a tenant wanting to break the lease prior to normal lease termination date stated in the lease agreement.  The early termination fee include rent expenses such as the time the property was left vacant till the normal termination date, and any non-rent expenses such as marketing, preparation and administration. 

Lease Agreement

Security Deposit Settlement

The Security Deposit Settlement Statement must contain itemize deductions and charges to make against a security deposit.  Repairs, unpaid water bills, lease violations, and past due charges are all legitimate deductions.  Sometimes, the Security Deposit Settlement Statement turns out to be a bill to the tenants for a balance due!

Sometimes, lack of routine cleaning that leads to beyond normal wear and tear is deemed as negligence and may even qualify as damage depending on the situation.  An example is Pet urine left uncleaned or untrained pet conducting business anywhere it pleases may lead to permanant stain/damage on the carpet.  Tenant is required to pay for the damage to the carpet for the affected room.  See Security Deposit below.