Violation of Local Ordinance does not Grant Private Right of Action

In McMillan v Douglas, an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals opinion, the tenant sued the landlord to recover 39 months of rent paid when the landlord never obtained a rental permit as required by Battle Creek ordinance.  The ordinance provides that "no rent shall be accepted, retained or recoverable” during the period a landlord does not have a valid permit.  The landlord defended on the basis that the ordinance does not create a private cause of action.  The trial court agreed, and the court of appeals affirmed.

Absent an express indication to the contrary, an ordinance imposing a duty on a property owner does not give rise to a private cause of action.  After a careful examination of the ordinance, the court of appeals affirmed that the Battle Creek ordinance does not contain any provision from which a private cause of action could be inferred.

© Steve Sowell 2017