Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McMillan v. Douglas

Court of Appeals of Michigan

December 14, 2017

ROBERT MCMILLAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SUSAN DOUGLAS, Defendant-Appellee.

         Calhoun Circuit Court LC No. 2015-003425-AV

          Before: Markey, P.J., and Hoekstra and Ronayne Krause, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         Plaintiff Robert McMillan appeals by leave granted[1] the circuit court order affirming the decision of the district court to deny plaintiff's request to recoup rent paid to his landlord, defendant Susan Douglas, for the months when defendant rented the property to plaintiff without a rental permit. Because the Battle Creek Code of Ordinances § 842.06(c) does not provide plaintiff a private cause of action to enforce rental ordinances against defendant, we affirm.

         Between August 2011 and October 2014, plaintiff rented residential property in Battle Creek from defendant at a rate of $595 per month for a total of 39 months. During that time, defendant did not have a valid rental permit for the property as required by the Battle Creek Code of Ordinances. On October 23, 2014, plaintiff received an order to vacate the premises because there was no current, valid rental permit. Plaintiff vacated the property on October 31, 2014, and subsequently filed suit against defendant.

         Relevant to the present appeal, in the district court, plaintiff claimed that he was entitled to the return of all rent paid to defendant during his tenancy because, under § 842.06(c), defendant could not accept, retain or recover rent without a current, valid rental permit. According to plaintiff, § 842.06(c) created a private cause of action allowing plaintiff to recoup rental payments made to defendant. The parties stipulated to the facts involved, and the district court ruled in defendant's favor with regard to plaintiff's claim to recoup rent under § 842.06(c), concluding that the ordinance did not grant a private cause of action to tenants to recover rent. Plaintiff appealed the district court's ruling to the circuit court, and the circuit court affirmed. Plaintiff now appeals by leave granted.

         On appeal, the issue before us is whether § 842.06(c) creates a private cause of action that allows a tenant to demand the return of rent that was paid to a landlord during a period in which the landlord did not have a valid rental permit. Plaintiff emphasizes that, under § 842.06(c), defendant cannot accept, retain or recover rent without a valid rental permit. To enforce this prohibition, plaintiff contends that it must be inferred that there is private right of action allowing plaintiff to demand the return of rent. We disagree.

         We review de novo a decision to grant summary disposition under MCR 2.116(A). Stanley v Genesee Co Clerk, 258 Mich.App. 215, 218; 671 N.W.2d 116 (2003). The interpretation and application of an ordinance also presents a question of law, which we review de novo. Great Lakes Society v Georgetown Charter Twp, 281 Mich.App. 396, 407; 761 N.W.2d 371 (2008). The rules of statutory construction apply to the interpretation of an ordinance. Goldstone v Bloomfield Twp Pub Library, 479 Mich. 554, 568 n 15; 737 N.W.2d 476 (2007). "Thus, this Court's goal in the interpretation of an ordinance is to discern and give effect to the intent of the legislative body." Morse v Colitti, 317 Mich.App. 526, 548; 896 N.W.2d 15 (2016). An ordinance must be construed as a whole, Winchester v WA Foote Mem Hosp, Inc, 153 Mich.App. 489, 501; 396 N.W.2d 456 (1986), affording words their plain and ordinary meanings, Great Lakes Society, 281 Mich.App. at 408. "If the language used by the legislative body is clear and unambiguous, the ordinance must be enforced as written." Morse, 317 Mich.App. at 548.

         Absent an express indication to the contrary, an ordinance imposing a public duty on a property owner does not give rise to a private cause of action. See Levendoski v Geisenhaver, 375 Mich. 225, 228; 134 N.W.2d 228 (1965); Grooms v Union Guardian Trust Co, 309 Mich. 437, 440; 15 N.W.2d 698 (1944). Moreover, when a provision "creates a new right or imposes a new duty unknown to the common law and provides a comprehensive administrative or other enforcement mechanism or otherwise entrusts the responsibility for upholding the law to a public officer, a private right of action will not be inferred." Claire-Ann Co v Christenson & Christenson, Inc, 223 Mich.App. 25, 31; 566 N.W.2d 4 (1997).

         In this case, Chapter 842 of the Battle Creek Code of Ordinances regulates rental housing. The stated purpose of regulating, permitting, and inspecting rental property as set forth in Chapter 842 is to:

(a) Protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons affected by or subject to the provisions of this chapter.
(b) Ensure that rental unit owners, legal agents, and tenants are informed of and adhere to all applicable code provisions governing the use and maintenance of rental units.
(c) Establish standards for obtaining rental permits, inspection of rental units, and the issuance of certificates of compliance for rental units. [Section 842.02.]

         Notably, under § 842.04(a), "no dwelling shall be rented by any person unless there is first issued a rental permit . . . ." The burden is on the owner of the property to "obtain a current, valid, rental permit." § 842.04(b). Rental of a property without a permit results in several ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.