Tenant’s Rights Attack – 33 more changes!

Posted April 30th, 2013 @ 8:17 AM by

Late yesterday afternoon we learned of the newest attack on tenant rights. I gotta admit, when the Republicans attack tenants, they do it completely and thoroughly – and the particularly hate Madison, Fitchburg and Dane County tenants. Check out the long list of things they will be changing if successful.

REMOVAL OF MADISON (and Fitchburg and Dane County) LAWS
I did this review quickly yesterday, but these are the Madison (and some Fitchburg) laws that will be removed. There are likely a few more, but I have to do some more research.

Here is the list of Madison ordinances I think it eliminates . . .
1. Landlord Registration
2. Landlords won’t have to tell new tenants that they have the right to abate rent due to previous tenant calling the building inspector.
3. Landlords won’t have to notify tenants of the occupancy limits in the apartment.
4. Landlords won’t have to tell tenants that they can’t get the off-street parking permits, they will just find out when they move and and try to get one from the city and the city tells them no.
5. Landlords won’t have to disclose what kind of minimum income standards they are applying or what information a tenant would need to provide to demonstrate how they can comply with the rules.
6. Landlords will no longer be required to tell you why you are denied housing.
7. Landlords will no longer be required to provide a phone number for the tenants to call.
8. May limit what building code violations landlords are required to disclose, including heat.
9. Landlords will no longer have to disclose conditions that create an unreasonable risk of personal injury.
10. Landlords will no longer have to have written guest policy.
11. Landlords will not longer have to give out the “Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilites” brochure.
12. Removes 5% limit on late fees.
13. Landlords no longer have to provide receipts and estimates for items deducted from the security deposit.
14. Landlords would no longer be required to list the hours worked or amount paid per hours when deducting from security deposits.

Plus the Dane County requirement to tell people why they are denied.

I may have missed a few. I’m still looking at bed bug and pests issue in chpater 27, police ticketing for the few items, chronic nuisance, smoke detector law, occupancy limits law in chapter 27, rent abatement and repair and deduct. But I’m hoping the list is fairly complete – lots of ordinances to review tho and I’m sure I missed some.

1. CAR TOWED ON PRIVATE PROPERTY – Landlords don’t even have to post the property before towing your car (or your guests car) at your expense as long as there is a prepossession judgement or a citation, but the citation can be issued by anyone – doesn’t have to be a traffic or police officer. If the property is posted, you don’t have to get a ticket, they can just remove your car (or your guests car) if they say it is not authorized to be there. And, if you don’t pay within 30 days or make arrangements, the car will be considered abandoned. The department of transportation will determine what fees will be reasonable. You can get your personal property out of the vehicle during regular business hours.

2. IF EVICTED YOUR PROPERTY CONSIDERED ABANDONED – LANDLORD CAN PUT IT ON THE CURB. If you don’t have a different agreement in writing, if you are evicted, your property will be considered abandoned and they will not have to move and store property you did not have time to move. The landlord, not the sheriff, will now determine if the property is junk or trash. The landlord will be able to, at any time, notify the tenant that they will not remove or store property, instead of having to tell you at the time you sign the lease.

3. LANDLORD DOESN’T HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS – unless they have been written up by a local building inspector. Of course, not every area has a local building inspector, including all properties not in a city or village. And some cities have cut their building inspection departments or never had one in the first place. So, even if they know about the building code violations, they won’t have to tell you unless it has been written up.

4. TENANT PAY FOR BED BUG/COCKROACH/ANTS AND OTHER PEST INFESTATIONS – in multi-unit buildings, often times it is hard to figure out where the issue came from. Now, if a tenant fails to assist in the treatment or the landlord thinks the tenant brought in the pests, the tenant will have to pay for the treatment or fix it themselves. And the law already says that “the cost to the landlord is presumed reasonable unless proved otherwise by the tenant.”

5. FIXING THEIR MISTAKES FROM THE LAST ROUND – CHECK IN SHEETS – Landlords no longer have to fill in the check-in sheets, that is up to the tenant, but they only have 7 days to get it done.

6. MAKING IT EASIER FOR A LANDLORD TO CHARGE YOU EXTRA FEES AND CHARGES – When the landlord wants to take extra fees and charges out of your security deposit they don’t have to discuss it with you, they just hand you a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS sheet and have you sign or initial here, here and here when you sign your lease and you just waived a whole bunch of your rights. So, be careful what you sign! It could cost you.

7. IF EVICTED, THEY CAN KEEP YOUR SECURITY DEPOSIT LONGER THAN 21 DAYS BEFORE RETURNING – They landlord can keep your security deposit for 21 days after the date they re-rent the apartment or your lease ends, so if it takes them a an extra month to re-rent, they keep your money.


9. FIXING THEIR MISTAKES – INVALIDATING LEASE DUE TO REFERENCE TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY – again, duh. They were trying to be cute, but made it so all the crime-free addenda many landlords use made the whole lease illegal. We tried to tell them . . . .


11. SPEEDING UP THE EVICTION PROCESS – In small claims actions the return date (court date) has to be set 8 – 30 days after it is issued. In eviction actions, it is 5 to 30 days, but they are changing it 5 to 14 days to speed up the eviction process.

12. AGENTS OF THE LANDLORD NO LONGER PRACTICING LAW WITHOUT A LICENSE – Employees, agents of the member and members of landlord companies can now start an eviction action and represent the landlord legally in eviction actions and in small claims court. I believe this allows management companies to represent landlords in these actions, which was previously illegal but a widespread practice.

13. NO PERSONAL SERVICE FOR EVICTIONS, COURTS CAN ALLOW SERVICE OF THE SUMMONS BY MAIL – So, if the landlord controls the mail, you may never get the notice! Or, if there is a glitch in the mail, you may not get the notice.

14. SPEEDING UP THE COURT DATE IN EVICTIONS – Courts must schedule evictions within 14 days of the return date of the summons, so within 14 days of the initial court date.

15. LANDLORDS WHO TAKE YOUR MONEY FOR ANY REASON DURING AND EVICTION CAN STILL EVICT YOU – So yeah, if you’re in an eviction action, unless the landlord guarantees you will not be evicted in writing, don’t give them money for anything because you can still get evicted.

16. COURT MUST ISSUE WRITE OF RESTITUTION WITHIN 5 DAYS OF THE DETERMINATION OF EVICTION – Again trying to speed up the eviction process – but I don’t think any of these items are issues in Dane County, they are quite efficient.


18. SHERIFF RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL NOTICES ABOUT PROPERTY REQUIRED IN AN EVICTION – Landlords not responsible for giving notices about property disposition.

19. LANDLORDS CAN’T BE HELD LIABLE FOR REFERENCES THEY GIVE ABOUT YOU – Landlords assumed to be acting in good faith when giving references and will not be liable, unless tenant can prove otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.

At least I think this is what this new law does – as best as I can tell in the first read. There are also disagreements about interpretations and missed items, but these are the biggies.

Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media | Wisconsin

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