LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 12, 2022) — Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) are announcing legislation to address elevator outages at apartment buildings in Michigan to help ensure building safety and accessibility for tenants.

As many of Michigan’s large residential buildings age, elevators fall into disrepair and become nonfunctional. There are times when elevators are not working for days, weeks, or even months at a time, and tenants are not receiving notification or updates from property managers.

In response, the senators introduced two bills, Senate Bills 1144 and 1145, that would require building owners to develop a written plan about how they will provide tenants with accommodations in the event of long-term elevator outages. Building owners would choose which accommodations work best for their needs, be required to share these written plans with tenants, and then submit them to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for their review.

Senate Bill 1145 by Sen. Chang would require landlords to have written plans for accommodating residents in the event of long-term elevator outages, including providing them with applicable resources, hotel assistance, having property management staff onsite for increased hours, or engaging with volunteer groups to provide grocery or medication deliveries to those with limited mobility.

“Last year, I heard from numerous residents about the elevators being out for months at a time at their high-rise apartment buildings in Detroit, and how these outages were affecting their lives on a daily basis,” Sen. Chang said. “Our seniors, people with disabilities, families with young children, and others should not have to worry about whether they might be stuck on their floor during a fire or whether they are able to get what they need to survive. Our bills are commonsense and reasonable — they simply require building owners to have a written plan and communicate what the plan is to their residents.”

Senate Bill 1144 by Sen. Moss would require MSHDA to create a form for property owners and property managers to establish their reasonable accommodation plans. MSHDA would also review and approve these plans.

“For too long, vulnerable residents have been subject to the whim and will — or lack thereof — of some property owners who are more interested in pushing the boundaries of what they can legally get away with than they are in ensuring they provide a safe, reliable place to call home,” Sen. Moss said. “This legislation empowers residents, holds unsavvy landlords accountable, and provides recourse especially for those who have had to deal with the massively concerning safety issue of nonworking elevators far too often.”

“The biggest problem we’ve experienced is a lack of communication from management,” said Debra Williams, a Detroit resident who has experienced issues with elevators in her buildings for years. “Requiring property managers to have plans in place and notify tenants about repairs and outages will hold them accountable.”

“Elevator outages will continue to happen as residential buildings age,” added Claudia Sanford, tenant rights organizer at United Community Housing Coalition. “Policies that require planning for the future are necessary to prevent this eventuality.”

Senate Bills 1144 and 1145 would also create protections for vulnerable individuals such as those with disabilities or limited mobility.

“People with disabilities and older adults deserve to be safe and comfortable in their homes. This legislation will ensure that landlords do their due diligence in terms of planning ahead for elevator disruptions, timely repairs, and communication, as well as meeting accommodation needs of residents with mobility disabilities,” said Dessa Cosma, executive director of Detroit Disability Power. “This is an important step toward safer and more accessible housing for Michiganders, which is currently severely lacking.”