What are a renter’s rights when a landlord does not pay the taxes?

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What are a renter’s rights when a landlord does not pay the taxes?

My mother owns her own hair salon. She is a renter in her building. She recently got a letter showing the owner has not paid taxes for 2009 and 2010. He owes over $5000. It says to avoid the state taking over the building payment must be received by 03/01/11 for the back taxes for 2009. We are wondering what are my mothers rights? Does she have to continue paying rent? She is almost positive he will not pay the taxes as the owner does not have any money.

Asked on February 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, for as long as this owner is still the owner--that is, until the state actually takes over the building--he is still her landlord, her rental agreement is still in force, and she must pay her rent. If/once the state takes over, the then-former owner will no longer be the owner and will not be entitled to the rent, since he will have no right to the building and will not be able to give possession to your mother. At that point, your mother's lease will be terminated and what happens next will be up to the state or whomever buys the building subsequently. If the state takes over, your mother should try to strike a deal with it; otherwise, the state could move to evict tenants of the now-former owner.


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