One of the biggest issues last spring was a proposal for rent control in Ann Arbor, put on the ballot by the Human Rights Party. After a heavily financed campaign by local landlords, which included several illegal contributions, the proposal was defeated by voters in April. But despite its defeat, a large number of people, angry at high rents and poor service provided by Ann Arbor landlords, voted for it.
While rent control is not dead (Both Dems and HRP are trying to work out new proposals), there are some minor reliefs that tenants have in dealing with landlords.
For students, one of the best features the University offers its the Mediation Service. Students should check to be sure their house is registered (or their landlord). If so, the Mediation Service can intervene if you are being ripped off and your landlord refuses to listen. They have been excellent in getting U students rent reductions when the landlord failed to come through with needed services on apartments.
Non-students do not have the same help available for pressuring landlords into action. Possible methods of action are Legal Aid for a lawyer (if actual laws are being broken). The Tenants' Union (which can primarily answer questions about problems and tell you who can best help you), or the city's Building Inspector (who can force the landlord to put the house into livable condition under the city housing code).
Tenants should also note that the state has a recent law covering damage deposits, which makes it harder for the landlords to keep it. If you are having problems getting back any of the money you turned in as a damage deposit (which can legally be no more than 1 1/2 months rent), contact legal aid of the tenants' union to find out your rights.
The other major problem with housing in Ann Arbor is finding it. If you just need temporary housing (like overnight) and don't have any money, check with Ozone house.
If you're looking for a more permanent place, you can try the usual newspaper ads. Other possibilities are Off-campus housing if you are a U-M student, and for women, there is the Women's Crisis Center.