Last May the Assembly shoved it through in about two weeks. The Senate Housing and Insurance Committee sat on it all summer, but now they are having their Executive Session on a new Amended Substitute that came out on Thursday, voting Monday morning at 9 am. I suspect this will pass during the floor session Sept 17 – 19. If not it will have to wait til Oct 8 – 17. I just found out about this yesterday morning when they sent out the legislative notice – somehow I didn’t get notices about the new amendments.
Here’s what the newest version does:
1. New rights of landlord to have vehicles towed on private property (Wis. Stats. 349.13) – Landlords can tow a tenant’s vehicle (or their guest’s vehicle) at the tenant’s expense as long as one of the following apply: The property was posted with signs stating that unauthorized vehicles would be towed, or in the absence of such posting if the vehicle has been issued a citation or there is a prepossession judgment. The citation can be issued by anyone. If the tenant doesn’t pay within 30 days or make arrangements, the vehicle will be considered abandoned. The department of transportation will determine what fees will be reasonable. The owner can get personal property out of the vehicle during regular business hours. The towing company will be required to notify the local law enforcement agency of the make, model VIN number and license plate number of the vehicle and tell them where they are taking the vehicle or they will not be able to charge for the removal of the vehicle. If the vehicle has been reported stolen, the towing company may not remove the car. The law enforcement agency will have to keep a record of all notifications as well as identification of the towing company involved. Municipalities can require the towing company to add up to $35 to the bill of the person who was towed and the towing company can pay that monthly to the municipality. Rules about what the signs look like or how to notify law enforcement will be decided administratively later.
2.New rights of landlord to dispose of property left behind, including property left behind in an eviction (Wis. Stats. 799.45(2) & (3) and Wis. Stats. 704.05(5)) – Unless there’s a different agreement in writing, if a tenant is evicted the landlord may notify the sheriff that they wish to oversee the removal and disposal of any property left behind. The landlord, not the sheriff, will now determine if the property is trash. This option does not require the landlord to move and store the property or notify the tenant.. Landlord may notify the tenant in writing that they will not move and store the property either when they sign lease or at renewal.
3. Tenant to pay for bed bug/cockroach/ants and other pest infestations by default (Wis. Stats. 704.07(2) & (3) – In multi-unit buildings, it is often hard to figure out where the pests came from, and thus who should be responsible for the cost of the repair. This cost is determined by the landlord and “presumed reasonable unless proved otherwise by the tenant.” Now, if a tenant fails to assist in the treatment or the landlord thinks the tenant brought in the pests, the tenant will, by default, have to pay for the treatment or fix it themselves.
4. Check-in sheets (Wis. Stats. 704.08) – Landlords no longer have to fill in the check-in sheets with an itemized description of the rental property. Landlords must only give tenants a check-in sheet to fill in, and the tenant only has 7 days to complete it and turn it in.
5. Making it easier for a landlord to charge extra fees and fines in a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION (Wis. Stats. 704.28) – When a landlord wants the tenant to waive their rights and allow the landlord to take extra fees and charges out of a security deposit, the landlord no longer has to separately discuss these rights with the tenant. They must still list these on a separate piece of paper titled NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS and have the tenant sign or initial each one.
6. Landlord has more time to return security deposit after eviction (Wis. Stats. 704.28(4) and ATCP 134.06(2)) – After an eviction, the landlord could now keep a security deposit for up to 21 days after they re-rent the apartment or the lease ends, not 21 days after the writ of restitution is executed or the landlord learns that the tenant has vacated.
7. Commercial leases don’t have to follow rules about returning a security deposit (Wis. Stats. 704.28).
8. Double damages in Wis. Stats. 704 are only for security deposit issues or illegal lease clauses (704.95). Previously, any violation of Chapter 704 was an unfair trade practice under Wis. Stats. 100.20 and could be entitled to double damages.
9. Faster return date for eviction actions (799.20(4)) – 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. This law changes the return date for eviction actions to 5 to 14 25 days.
10. Agents of the landlord no longer practicing law without a license (Wis. Stats. 799.06(2)) – 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. Language slightly modified in amended version.
11. No personal service for summons and complain in eviction actions (Wis. Stats. 799.12(2) – Courts can allow service of the summons by mail. This service must be by certified mail that goes to each defendant. The service is considered complete upon mailing unless it is returned to the court unopened prior to the return date.
12. Speeding up the hearing date in eviction actions (Wis. Stats. 799.206(3)) – If the residential eviction will be contested, the courts must schedule, hold and complete the eviction court or jury trial on the issue of possession of the property within 30 days of the return date of the summons. Previously, this was “as soon as possible.” The order for judgment and writ must then be “immediately” issued.
13. Changes to acceptance of rent or other payment in an eviction action (Wis. Stats. 799.40) – After initiating an eviction action, if a landlord accepts rent or any payment from the tenant, they may still pursue the eviction. Previously the law just stated this for acceptance of rent.
14. Sheriff is no longer required to be involved in the eviction action regarding removal of property if the landlords doesn’t want to use them (Wis. Stats. 799.45) – Landlords have no checks and balances from the sheriff in removing property illegally.
15. Landlords can’t be held liable for references they give about previous tenants. – This new law will state that landlords are 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.
16. Preemptions may revoke local control governing required landlord communication, expenses and fees in the lease, and other ordinances. This bill would make it so that no city, village, town, or county may enact an ordinance that: 1. Limits a tenant’s responsibility, or a landlord’s right to recover expenses, fees, or damages due under the contract (e.g. limits on late fees or liability for pest infestations); 2. Requires a landlord to communicate to tenants or local government any information that is not require to be communicated under federal or state law (e.g. landlord registries and chronic nuisance citations). If the information is solely information required by local government that allows a person to contact the owner, or their agent if that is what the owner wants, then it is allowed.
17. Mobile Home Owners and titled vehicle owners have additional protections for property left behind – the same as if they were evicted, requiring the landlord to notify the owner before the dispose of the mobile home or property left behind.
18. Safe Housing Act is amended to include the entire mobile home. Multiple definitions were also added to the law.
19. Effective dates of several pieces of the ordinance were changed, the bill would go into effect the 1st day of the 3rd month after publishing.
20. Leases (or addendums) must contain a Notice of Domestic Abuse Protections. This notice tells the tenant they may be able to stop an eviction if the landlord knew they were a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and the eviction was based on that status. The notice must also tell them they can break their lease. It tells people to contact a local victim service provider if they have questions. If this notice is not in the lease, a landlord cannot evict someone for crime committed on the property.
21. Effective Dates. The effective dates of when the law goes into effect for insect infestations, return of security deposit after eviction, security deposit provisions, violations of unfair trade practices, references by landlords, non-storage of property, void rental agreement, termination of tenancy in munufactured homes, several eviction provisions and notice of protections all go into effect on the effective date of the law instead of the 1st day of the 3rd month after it goes into effect.
22. Leases are void if clauses about criminal activity. Leases are void if they allow someone to be terminated from the lease for being a victim of a crime or if it allows a tenant to be terminated based on a crime if it does not have the Notice of Domestic Abuse Protections.
And it also eliminates the following Madison and Dane County Ordinances (Note: This list may not be complete and attorneys may argue differently about some of these items):
1. Landlords won’t have to notify tenants of the occupancy limits in the apartment.
2. Landlords will no longer be required to provide a phone number for the tenants to call.
3. Landlords will no longer have to disclose conditions that create an unreasonable risk of personal injury, unless they are cited by the building inspector.
4. Landlords will no longer have to educate tenants about fire safety (MGO 34.907(1)(d) and no longer use the
form notifying the tenant that they are in violation of the ordinance if they tamper with a smoke alarm (MGO
5. Landlord registration will end.
6. Landlords won’t have to tell new tenants that they have the right to abate rent due to a previous tenant
calling the building inspector.
7. Landlords won’t have to tell tenants that they can’t get the off-street parking permits,
8. 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.
9. Landlords will no longer be required to tell you why you are denied housing.
10. May limit what building code violations landlords are required to disclose, including heat.
11. Landlords will no longer have to have a written guest policy, but will have to do whatever is written in their current lease.
12. Landlords will no longer have to give out the “Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities ” brochure.
13. Landlords can charge anything they want for a late fee, instead of being limited to 5% of the monthly rent.
14. Landlords no longer have to provide receipts and estimates for items deducted from the security deposit.
15. Landlords would no longer be required to list the hours worked or amount paid per hour when deducting from
16. Leases for 3 units or more are no longer required to tell tenants there is no smoking in common areas in the lease.
17. Our chronic nuisance ordinance requires communication by the landlord to the city of information that is not required by state or federal law and is not required of all property owners. This ordinance will need to be
reviewed for process and possible removal of fines to landlords.
18. Landlords will no longer have to give out voter registration information.
19. Landlord entry may be reduced from 24 hours notice to 12 hours notice for repairs and inspections.
20. Landlords will no longer be required to do a check-out form with a forwarding address.
21. Lodging houses will no longer be required to have 2 people to contact for emergency work.
22. Landlords will no longer be presumed to be responsible for pests (cockroaches and bed bugs) in multi-unit
23. Self-help repair ordinance may be overturned.
24. Landlords in Dane County will no longer be required to ask tenants if they want to be notified about why they are denied.
25. Fitchburg ordinances will also be impacted but we have not had time to review them.
26. The new law requiring tenants to be told why they were non-renewed.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
Help get new elected officials throughout Wisconsin. I don’t think there is much we can do to stop this train wreck. Erpenbach has several amendments, I’m guessing none will pass since the majority of the committee has signed on to the above substitute amendment. Just hang on for the ride.
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