News Story

Bills could force some Michigan landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers

Property group opposes the plan, citing bureaucracy

Michigan landlords who rent five or more units could be forced to accept Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers under a bill package in Lansing.

The Legislature is considering Senate bills 205, 206, and 207, as well as House bills 4062 and 4063. Together, the bills seek to prohibit landlords who have five or more units from discriminating against tenants or prospective tenants based on their income source, such as housing assistance, Social Security, or veterans benefits.

Reps. Jennifer Conlin, D-Ann Arbor Charter Township, and Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor, say these bills would improve tenants’ rights in Michigan.

“We made a step toward eliminating systemic barriers in the housing industry,” Conlin said in a news release. “Housing is a basic human right, and no one should be unhoused in Michigan. These bills are about ensuring every Michigander has equitable access to housing.”

HB 4063 and SB 207 would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include income sources as a protected category when it comes to real estate transactions.

“Housing is not a luxury — it’s a basic life necessity,” Morgan said in a statement. “Ensuring that the good families, veterans and seniors of Michigan are protected from discrimination based on their source of their income is fundamental to ensuring our hometowns are strong and inclusive.”

The Property Management Association of Michigan opposes legislation that expands the Elliott-Larsen Act to include income sources as a protected class.

“Source of income would include Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, which is a program that is strictly voluntary in nature,” the group told CapCon in an email. “Many property owners choose not to participate in the program because of the inefficient manner in which the program is administered, and this legislation would force landlords to accept the vouchers and the bureaucracy that goes with it. We look forward to working with members of the Legislature to come up with alternative solutions to increase access to affordable housing in Michigan.”

The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates the bill would raise costs to the Department of Civil Rights by an unknown amount. The annual salary costs for an additional complaint investigation investigator are about $160,000.

These bills would allow tenants and would-be tenants to file lawsuits against landlords who violate the proposed laws, seeking damages, injunctive relief, or both.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.