In an effort to eliminate the congestion in eviction court, Milwaukee County has imposed a limit of 80 new eviction cases per day. In the past there have been days in which over 300 new eviction cases were scheduled to be heard in the same afternoon, which often became unmanageble.
This new limit only applies to new case filings for eviction cases (the 1st cause of action) for return of the property. This new limit does not include evidentiary hearings, adjourned matters, or return dates for 2nd and 3rd causes of actions (for money damages).
I was informed that the Clerk of Courts will be keeping a running tally of eviction cases scheduled for each return date/initial appearance. Once that tally reaches 80, no more cases will be allowed to be filed for that same return date.
While I understand the reasoning for this new policy, I do have some concerns. I agree that eviction court can become unmanageable due to the high volume of cases. Us “regulars” to eviction court have had to spend much of our lives sitting and waiting in good ol’ room 400 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse due to the high volume. Despite that I have always had my cases completed before 5 pm.
I work for several clients that have a high volume of evictions each month. One client in particular easily has 40 evictions per month and has topped out at 66 evictions on more than one occassion. In order to keep costs down for such clients I schedule all of that client’s evictions to be heard on the same day. This limits the amount of fees that they client has to pay me and allows them to only spend one day per month in court.
This new policy may prevent that client, and other landlords similarily situated, from having all of their cases heard on the same day — thus increasing their costs and encroaching on their valuable time. Let’s face it evicting a tenant is a a money-loser to a landlord. It is a necessary evil that they would like to keep to a minimum if at all possible.
Another foreseeable issue would be the landlord that has a smaller number of evictions each month – say 10 — who wants to have them all heard on one day in eviction court. What will happen when s/he goes to file the evictions and is told that there are only 3 spots left for evictions on the day s/he wanted to appear in court? That landlord weill either have to scheduled his/her 7 remaining evictions on a different day or choose to postpone all 10 evictions to another day in order to have them all heard at once. The former option wil require the landlord to spend 2 days in eviction court. the latter option will result in a non-paying tenant having additional time to live rent free. Either option causes the landlord money.
So while I understand the motivation for this new rule I am not sure that it will benefit Milwaukee County landlords. We will have to wait and see.