Community Development

Rental Housing


 The City of Big Rapids has specific codes and ordinances designed to work with property owners to assure safety and quality in the rental market place.  We have adopted the Housing Law of Michigan, Act 167, as amended. It provides a detailed framework of administration, standards, inspections, and enforcement procedures which provide “minimum requirements adopted for the protection of health, welfare and safety of the community” while authorizing the City of Big Rapids “to impose requirements higher than the minimum requirements laid down in this act relative to light, ventilation, sanitation, fire prevention, egress, occupancy, maintenance and uses for dwellings.”  We have incorporated this, with the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code and the 2018 Fire Code, into our Rental Inspection Program and Code of Ordinances.

All residential property in the City of Big Rapids that is occupied by other than the owner is subject to inspection under the Rental Certification Program.  Please note that rental property for non-related individuals is allowed primarily in the R-2 and R-3 Zones. The inspection is performed annually for a fee and the property must pass and conform with certain standards.  After a property has passed inspection, a Housing Maintenance Certificate is issued and the owner is authorized to rent.  The following is a partial list of rental codes that the inspector will use when inspecting the rental property:

  1. The number of units, number of bedrooms and number of occupants as well as number of available parking spaces will be observed and compared with our records for zoning compliance.
  2. Exits: Must be unlocking from inside without use of key. Egress windows in all bedrooms are required.  The bottom edge of all egress windows must be no more than 44 inches from the floor. 
  3. Proper display of house numbers: numbers shall be of block style no smaller than 4 inches high, to be placed near the front door or over the garage door, visible from the street on which the building fronts. They must be contrasting to background and no lower than 3 feet from the ground.
  4. Operational smoke detectors, no older than 10 years old, are required on the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area, in each sleeping room, on each floor, and at the top of each stairway.  All sealed smoke detectors must have a 10-year battery.
  5. No storage is allowed within 3 feet of a gas water heater or furnace.  Also, make sure flammable liquids are stored properly.
  6. Proper ventilation of gas appliances.
  7. Electrical: 2 outlets per room or 1 outlet and 1 ceiling light per room.  No misuse of extension cords. No spliced wiring.
  8. Fusing: 15 AMP for 14 wire, 20 AMP for 12 wire,  30 AMP for 10 wire.
  9. Interior finish must be free of holes and windows free of cracks.
  10. Exterior must be properly maintained and free of holes or access that may allow for vermin and insects to enter.  Property must also be free of any blight, such as:  junk cars or parts, garbage, rubbish, indoor appliances or indoor furniture.
  11. Accessory structures must be in good repair.
  12. An ABC rated fire extinguisher of no less than 35 ounces of dry chemical must be mounted a minimum of 42 inches and a maximum of 60 inches off the floor in the kitchen of each rental unit. It must also be placed a minimum of 42 inches away from the stove.

If the property is not in compliance at the time of inspection, follow-ups will be necessary and additional charges may be levied for the additional review.

The property owner and/or property manager must be present at the inspection.  Please note that if the property owner does not live within a 10-mile radius of the City, our Code requires that a local contact person residing or having an office in the City or within 10 miles of the City limits, 12 months of the year, be designated as responsible to handle any issue of concern in the owner’s absence.  Should an emergency arise, the contact person may act on behalf of the owner to respond to issues of fire, police, health, safety and welfare in an efficient manner.

We thank you in advance for your continued cooperation and assistance in the effort to provide safe, quality housing for our community.  As we work together, greater support and efficiency results, and the owner, tenant and community all prosper.  If you have any questions please contact the Community Development Department's Code Enforcement Officer,  Craig Pepper at or 231-592-4037.


A Practical Guide for Tenants and Landlords from the MSU College of Law Housing Law Clinic

City of Big Rapids Fair Housing Policy

Carbon Monoxide Safety Fact Sheet