Archive for category Act 143 (Landlord’s Omnibus Law)

JUST ANNOUNCED: AASEW’s Next Landlord Boot Camp – Saturday, March 8, 2014

Landlording can be pretty complex, with a seemingly never ending myriad of paperwork, rules, landlord-tenant laws and simple mistakes that can cost you thousands.

The Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin’s 9th “Landlord Boot Camp” can help you navigate these treacherous waters and learn how to run your properties with greater profit and less hassles.

Who:           Taught by Attorney Tristan Pettit, who drafts the landlord tenant forms for Wisconsin Legal Blank

When:        March 8th, 2014 Saturday 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM Registration opens at 7:00 AM

Where:      Clarion Hotel 5311 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee [Map]

Included: 100 plus page manual to help you put what you learn into practice.

Price:       Members           $159.        Non-Members   $249

Specials: Not a member?  Pay just $1 more than the non member price and receive both the Boot Camp and an AASEW membership for the remainer of 2014 including member discounts at Home Depot, Sherwin Williams and more.

Dog Tags Boot camp                            Dog Tags Boot camp                                 Dog Tags Boot camp                                       Dog Tags Boot camp

Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws are constantly changing.  To help keep you up to date we offer prior attendees a $50 discount.

What you will learn at the Apartment Association’s 2014 Landlord Boot Camp

Landlord Boot Camp covers everything that you need to know about residential Landlord Tenant law in Wisconsin, as amended in March 2012 by Act 143 and again in March 2013 with the passage of Act 76, including:

  1. How to properly screen prospective tenants.
  2. How to draft written screening criteria to assist you in the selection process.
  3. How to comply with both federal and state Fair Housing laws including how to comply with “reasonable modifications”  and “reasonable accommodations” requests.
  4. How to legally reject an applicant.
  5. What rental documents you should be using and why.
  6. When you should be using a 5-day notice versus a 14-day notice, 28-day notice, or 30-day notice and how to properly serve the notice on your tenant.
  7. Everything you wanted to know (and probably even more than you wanted to know) about the Residential Rental Practices (ATCP 134) and how to avoid having to pay double damages to your tenant for breaching ATCP 134.
  8. When you are legally allowed to enter your tenant’s apartment.
  9. How to properly draft an eviction summons and complaint.
  10. What to do to keep the commissioner from dismissing your eviction suit.
  11. What you can legally deduct from a security deposit.
  12. How to properly draft a security deposit transmittal (“21 Day”) letter
  13. How to handle pet damage.
  14. What to do with a tenant’s abandoned property and how this may affect whether or not you file an eviction suit.
  15. How to pursue your ex-tenant for damages to your rental property and past due rent (and whether it is even worth it to do so).
  16. An ample question and answer period.  This alone is worth the admission. . . .  and much more.

You get all this for less than you would pay for an hour of an attorney’s time.

Last year’s AASEW Landlord Boot Camp was filled to capacity.  So call early to reserve your spot.

The easiest way to register is to do so online at www.LandlordBootCamp2014.com or you can call the Association at (414) 276-7378 or email them membership@apartmentassoc.org today to reserve your spot.

Hope to see many of you there.

T

 

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ACT 76 – Wisconsin’s New Landlord-Tenant Law – Part 1: Background and Overview

Senate Bill 179, which is commonly referred to as the “Landlord-Tenant Law Bill,” is on its way to becoming law in the near future.  For many of us it has been a long wait.

After initially being introduced in the Wisconsin Senante on May 8, 2013, the Senante concurred to some changes made to SB 179 by the Assembly on October 16, 2013.  It is expected that Governor Walker will sign this bill into law prior to the end of the year.

The new law is 8 pages long and will make sweeping changes to Wisconsin’s landlord-tenant laws as we currently know them.  This new law will benefit landlords and “good” tenants.  “Bad” tenants (i.e. those that don’t pay rent on time, cause damage to the rental property, ignore the rights of their neighbors and fellow tenants etc. etc.) will not like this new law.

This new law was initially created to fix many of the unintended consequences from last year’s Landlord’s Omnibus law – Act 143.  Act 143 was unfortunately rushed through the legislative process in a little over a month.  Rushed legislation is never good.  As a result of the speed with which Act 143 was created, coupled with the fact that those of us that spend most of our days dealing with landlord-tenant issues were not consulted, there were some serious flaws in Act 143.  SB 179 will repair those flaws.

Fortunately, SB 179 was not rushed like its predecessor.  Work on SB 179 began even prior to Act 143 becoming law – once the problems were recognized.  Many of us involved in the process worked on SB 179 since April of 2013.  SB 179 was officially introduced in the Senate on May 8, 2013, and as mentioned previosly, it was finalized in mid-October.  So from start to finish it took approximately 6 months not including the time for the Governor to sign it.

I have been asked by many over the past few weeks, when will this new law become effective.  Well, the answer to that depends in part on when the Governor signs it.  SB 179 states that most componants of the new law will become effective on the 1st day of the 3rd month following its publication.  So it would become effective February 1, 2014 or March 1, 2014 depending on when it is signed into law.

By my count, the new law repaired/corrected 6 sections of Act 143 and introduced or amended an additional 13 other sections that will affectlandlord-tenant law in Wisconsin.

In future blog posts during I will summarize and discuss all 19 componants of the new law.

 

 

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Why I Am So Excited About This Saturday’s AASEW Landlord Boot Camp

I am really excited about this Saturday’s AASEW Landlord Boot Camp.  Why you ask?  Well let me tell you.

Just last week the Senate in Madison passed SB 179 which is a very large and sweeping revision to much of landlord-tenant law in Wisconsin.  This bill not only cleans up the unintended consequences of last years Act 143, it also makes some major changes such as:

 

- Applies the new streamlined abandoned property law to evictions

- Allows the towing of vehicles on private property without the need for a citation to be issued first

- Prevents municipalities from requiring landlords to distribute information or report information to the government that is not required by state or federal law

- Allows non-lawyers to appear in court to represent their LLC’s in eviction and other small claims actions

- It speeds up the eviction process – requiring the court to hear and complete an eviction trial within 20 days of the return date

- Allows property management companies or another agent of the owner to file evictions on behalf of their clients/owners

- Clears up the confusion regarding evicting a tenant that was involved in criminal activity

 

This bill has not yet been signed into law, but barring a veto from Governor Walker — which is not anticipated — it will become law very soon.  SB 179 will help landlords and good law-abiding tenants alike.

So the reason I am so excited about this Saturday’s Boot Camp is because it will be the 1st opportunity I have to teach landlords and property managers about the new changes.

SB 179 is a very comprehensive law.   I just completed my outline this past weekend and boy there is a lot of information to cover.

If you are interested in learning about this new bill as well as the 7 other large topics that I will be teaching (including: the judicial eviction process, causes for eviction, security deposit issues, screening applicants, rental documents and much much more) at this Fall’s Boot Camp — please go to www.landlordbootcamp2013.com and sign up as there are still a few spots left!

I hope to see many of you there.

T

 

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SB 179 (“Landlord-Tenant Bill”) Is On It’s Way To Governor Walker To Be Signed Into Law

At about 6:40 pm on October 16, 2013, SB 179 (commonly referred to as the Landlord-Tenant Bill) was concurred by the state Senate after a minor amendment was made in the state Assembly earlier.  The bill passed 18-15 despite attempts to delay the bill via a motion to non-concur.  The bill now goes to the Governor who has 30 days to “call” for the bill and sign it.

If you would like to watch the hearing you can do so by clicking here.  The portion of the hearing dealing with SB 179 starts at approximately 2:58.

This bill which will hopefully become law — absent a veto by the Governor — will makes some major changes to Wisconsin Landlord Tenant law and the small claims eviction procedure.  It also cleans up several of the unintended consequences of Act 143, which also dealt with landlord-tenant law, which became law back on March 31, 2012.

I will be devoting a segment of the AASEW’s upcoming Landlord Boot Camp on October 26, 2013, to discussing SB 179 and its effect on the landlord-tenant landscape.  For more information on the upcoming Boot Camp, including a summary of other topics that will be covered, prior attendees’ testimonials, and how to register to attend, please go to www.LandlordBootCamp2013.com.

Assuming the Governor signs SB 179 into law, I will most likley be posting on this topic again in the near future and offerring my own analysis of the law, but for now I have reproduced for the Wisconsin Legislative Council’s October 14, 2013 memo which summarizes current law in Wisconsin and then summarizes how SB 179 will affect/change current law.

 

This memorandum describes Senate Substitute Amendment 1 to 2013 Senate Bill 179, as amended by Senate Amendments 17 and 18, relating to landlord-tenant law, small claims actions, and towing of vehicles.  In addition, this Memo describes Assembly Amendment 1 to 2013 Senate Bill 179, as passed by the Senate.  The section numbers in brackets refer to the sections of Senate Bill 179 that are described under each heading, below. 

 

RESTRICTIONS ON LOCAL ORDINANCES [Sections 1-4]

Under current law, a city, village, town, or county (municipality) is prohibited from enacting or enforcing certain ordinances relating to landlords and tenants, such as an ordinance imposing a moratorium on eviction actions or an ordinance that places certain limitations on what information a landlord may obtain and use concerning a prospective tenant.  [ss. 66.0104 and 66.1010, Stats.]

Senate Bill 179 additionally prohibits a municipality from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that does any of the following:

  • Limits a tenant’s responsibility, or a landlord’s right to recover, for any damage or waste to, or neglect of, the premises that occurs during the tenant’s occupancy of the premises.
  • Limits a tenant’s responsibility or a landlord’s right to recover for any other costs, expenses, fees, payments, or damages for which the tenant is responsible under the rental agreement or applicable law.
  • Requires a landlord to communicate to tenants any information that is not required to be communicated to tenants under federal or state law.
  • Requires a landlord to communicate to the municipality any information concerning the landlord unless the information is required under federal or state law or is required of all residential real property owners.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 authorizes a municipality to enact or enforce an ordinance that requires a landlord to communicate to the municipality any information concerning the landlord ifthe information is solely information that will enable a person to contact the owner or, at the option of the owner, an agent of the owner.

Senate Amendment 17 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 authorizes a municipality to enact or create an ordinance that requires a landlord to communicate information to tenants that is not required to be communicated to tenants under federal or state law if the ordinance has a reasonable and clearly defined objective of regulating the manufacture of illegal narcotics.

Assembly Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 179, as passed by the Senate (i.e., as amended by Senate Substitute Amendment 1 and Senate Amendments 17 and 18) modifies the provision described above that generally prohibits a municipality from enacting or enforcing an ordinance requiring a landlord to communicate to the municipality any information concerning the landlord, unless an exception applies.  Assembly Amendment 1 provides that the general prohibition relates to communication to the municipality of any information concerning the landlord or a tenant, unless an exception applies.

 

NOTIFICATION TO A PROSPECTIVE TENANT OF BUILDING CODE OR HOUSING CODE VIOLATIONS [Section 11]

Under current law, if a landlord has actual knowledgeof any uncorrected building code or housing code violation in the dwelling unit or a common area that presents a significant threat to the prospective tenant’s health or safety, the landlord must disclose the violation to a prospective tenant before entering into a rental agreement or accepting any earnest money or security deposit.  [s. 704.07 (2) (bm), Stats.]

Under Senate Bill 179, the landlord must disclose the types of violations described above only if he or she has received written notice of the violation from a local housing code enforcement agency.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 deletes this provision from the bill. 

 

COMMISSION OF CRIMES ON RENTAL PROPERTY [Section 18]

Under current law, if a lease contains any of a list of prohibited provisions, the lease is void and unenforceable.  Among the prohibited provisions is a provision that allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy of a tenant if a crime is committed in or on the rental property, even if the tenant could not reasonably have prevented the crime.  [s. 704.44 (9), Stats.]

Senate Bill 179 repeals the provision of current law describe above.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 replaces the current law provision described above with a provision that states that the lease is void and unenforceable if it contains a provision that allows the landlord to terminate a tenancy of a tenant based solely on the commission of a crime in or on the rental property, if the tenant, or someone who lawfully resides with the tenant, is the victim of that crime.  Victim is defined by reference to s. 950.02 (4), which generally provides that “victim” means a person against whom a crime has been committed, unless he or she is the person charged with or alleged to have committed the crime.

In addition, the substitute amendment requires a lease to include a specified notice, in the lease agreement or an addendum to the lease agreement, of certain domestic abuse protections available under ss. 106.50 (5m) (dm) and 704.16, Stats.  The first of these sections prohibits a landlord from evicting a tenant because of the tenant’s status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.  The second of these sections provides that a residential tenant may terminate his or her tenancy if the tenant or a child of the tenant faces an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if the tenant remains on the premises. 

The substitute amendment also provides that a lease is void and unenforceable if it allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy of a tenant for criminal activity in relation to the property and the lease does not include the notice regarding domestic abuse protections described above. 

Senate Amendment 18 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 modifies the language required under the notice of domestic abuse protections.  Under Senate Amendment 18, the notice provides that a tenant has a defense to an eviction action under the circumstances provided in s. 106.50 (5m) (dm), Stats., instead of providing that a tenant may be able to stop an eviction action under such circumstances.

 

TERMINATION OF TENANCY IN MOBILE OR MANUFACTURED HOME COMMUNITIES FOR THREAT OF SERIOUS HARM [No provision in Bill]

Under current law, a landlord may terminate the tenancy of a tenant if the tenant commits one or more acts, including verbal threats, that cause another tenant, or a child of that other tenant, who occupies a dwelling unit in the same single-family rental unit, multi-unit dwelling, or apartment complex as the offending tenant, to face an imminent threat of serious physical harm from the offending tenant if the offending tenant remains on the premises.  [s. 704.16 (3), Stats.]

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 authorizes a landlord to terminate the tenancy of the tenant of a mobile or manufactured home community who threatens another tenant, or child of another tenant, of the mobile or manufactured home community under the same circumstances, described above. 

 

TIMING OF RETURN OF SECURITY DEPOSIT [Section 15 and 16]

Under current law, if a tenant is evicted, a landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant, less any amounts that are appropriately withheld, within 21 days after the date on which the writ of restitution is executed or the date on which the landlord learns that the tenant has vacated the premises, whichever occurs first.  [s. 704.28 (4) (d), Stats.]

Under Senate Bill 179, if a tenant is evicted, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days after the date on which the tenant’s rental agreement terminates or, if the landlord rerents the premises before the tenant’s rental agreement terminates, the date on which the new tenant’s tenancy begins.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 provides that the timing of the return of the security deposit depends on whether the tenant is evicted before or after the termination date of the lease.  If the tenant is evicted before that date, the landlord must return the security deposit within 21 days after the lease terminates or, if the landlord re-rents the premises before that day, the date on which the new tenant’s tenancy begins.  If the tenant is evicted after the termination date, the landlord must return the security deposit within 21 days after the date on which the landlord learns that the tenant has vacated the premises or the date the tenant is removed by eviction. 

 

SERVICE OF SUMMONS IN EVICTION ACTION [Section 22]

Under current law, under most circumstances, the summons in an eviction action must be personally served upon the defendant (the tenant), unless this cannot be achieved with “reasonable diligence.”  In this case, the summons may be served by leaving a copy of the summons at the defendant’s usual place of abode in the presence of either:  (1) a competent member of the family who is at least 14 years old; or (2) a competent adult who resides in the abode of the defendant. The person serving the summons must inform the family member or other person of the contents of the summons.  [s. 801.11 (1) (b), Stats.]

Under Senate Bill 179, a court may, by rule, authorize the summons in an eviction to be served by regular mail.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 provides that use of certified mail shall be required for all eviction cases for which service by mail is authorized by a court. 

 

TIMING OF APPEARANCE AND TRIAL IN EVICTION ACTIONS [Sections 20, 23 and 24]

Under current law, the summons in an eviction action specifies the date that the defendant must appear in court.  That appearance date must be set at not less than five days or more than 30 days after the summons is issued.  [s. 799.05 (3) (b), Stats.]  Also, the court generally sets the matter for a trial or hearing when the tenant makes the initial appearance.  Current law does not specify the required timing of the trial or hearing.  [s. 799.20 (4) and 799.206 (3), Stats.]

Senate Bill 179 changes the appearance date to not less than five days or more than 14 days after the summons is issued.  The bill also specifies that the trial or hearing must be scheduled within 20 days after the date of appearance.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 changes the appearance date to not less than five days or more than 25 days after the summons is issued.  The substitute amendment also specifies that a trial or hearing on the issue of possession of the premises involved in the action must be held and completed within 30 days after the date of appearance, and provides that this provision applies only to residential tenancies. 

 

WHO MAY APPEAR IN SMALL CLAIMS ACTIONS [Section 21]

Under current law, in any small claims action, a person may commence and prosecute or defend an action or proceeding himself or herself, or by an attorney or a full-time authorized employee of the person.  [s. 799.06 (2), Stats.]

Senate Bill 179 eliminates the requirement that the employee be a full-time employee and also allows any small claims action by a member of the person, an agent of the member or an authorized employee of the agent.  This provision applies to all small claims actions, not only evictions.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 clarifies that “member”means a member as defined in s. 183.0102 (15), Stats.:

“Member” means a person who has been admitted to membership in a limited liability company as provided in s. 183.0801 and who has not dissociated from the limited liability company. 

 

DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY LEFT ON RENTAL PREMISES AFTER EVICTION [Sections 9, 10 and 29-46]

Under current law, if a tenant leaves property of value on the rental premises after he or she has been evicted, the property must be removed and stored.  The evicted tenant is notified of the location of the property and provided with the receipt needed to obtain possession of the property.  The evicted tenant is responsible for the costs of storage.  In Milwaukee County, the sheriff must remove and store the property. In all other counties, the landlord may choose to be responsible for the removal and storage of the property.  If the landlord does not choose to remove and store the property, the sheriff must do so.  [s. 799.45 (3), Stats.]

Under Senate Bill 179, if a tenant is evicted and leaves property on the rental premises, the landlord is not required to store the property unless the landlord and tenant have entered into a written agreement which provides otherwise.  If the landlord does not intend to store personal property left behind by a tenant, the landlord must provide written notice either when the tenant enters into or renews the rental agreement, or at any other time before the tenant is evicted from the premises.  If this notice is provided, the landlord may dispose of the property, other than prescription medicine or medical equipment, in any manner that the landlord determines is appropriate.

Senate Substitute Amendment 1 deletes the bill provision that authorizes a landlord to provide the notice described “at any time before the tenant is evicted,” and provides that any notice that is provided must be provided either when the tenant enters into or renews the rental agreement. 

 

TOWING OF VEHICLES [Sections 5-8]

Under current law, a vehicle that is parked on a private parking lot or facility without the permission of the property owner may not be removed without the permission of the vehicle owner, unless a traffic or police officer issues a citation for illegal parking, or a repossession judgment is issued.  If the vehicle is taken by a towing service to any location other than a public highway within one mile from the location in which the vehicle was improperly parked, the municipality or the traffic or police officer must, within 24 hours, provide the towing service with the name and last-known address of the registered owner and all lienholders of record.  [s. 349.19 (3m) and (5) (c), Stats.]

Under Senate Bill 179, a vehicle that is parked without authorization on private property that is properly posted may be towed immediately regardless of whether a parking citation is issued.  “Properly posted” means there is clearly visible notice that an area is private property and that vehicles that are not authorized to park in this area may be immediately removed.  The vehicle may be removed by a towing service at the request of the property owner or property owner’s agent, a traffic officer, or a parking enforcer.  A parking enforcer is a person who enforces nonmoving traffic violations and who is employed by a municipality, a county, or the state.  Also, the bill requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to promulgate rules establishing reasonable charges for removal and storage of vehicles under the provisions described above.

Under Senate Substitute Amendment 1, if a property owner has a vehicle towed under the provisions described above, the towing service must notify a local law enforcement agency of the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle and the location to which the vehicle will be towed.  The law enforcement agency is required to maintain a record of the notice as well as the identification of the towing service.  Also, the substitute amendment prohibits a towing service from removing a vehicle that has been reported to a law enforcement agency as stolen.  

In addition, under the substitute amendment, if requested by the municipality in which the vehicle was illegally parked, the towing service must charge the vehicle owner a service fee not to exceed $35.  The towing service must then remit the service fee to the municipality according to procedures specified in the statute. 

The substitute amendment provides that the rules promulgated by DOT must establish the form, and manner of display, of the notice necessary to qualify as “properly posted” under the provisions described above, as well as guidelines for towing services to notify law enforcement of the removal of a vehicle. 

 

 

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East Side Landlord “Think Small” Seminar Event on March 13th

Make plans to attend the fourth East Side Landlord Think Small event hosted by UWM!

This event is free and open to all interested landlords, with a special focus on Milwaukee’s East Side.

This spring’s event promises to be very engaging with featured presenter Attorney Tristan Pettit, who focuses his practice on representing landlords and management companies in landlord-tenant law matters.

Topics will include screening potential tenants and recent updates to landlord-tenant laws in Wisconsin.

As always, there will be networking time to share ideas with fellow attendees, Q&A time with the presenter, and light refreshments will be served.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Location: Chapman Hall on the UWM Campus, 2310 E Hartford Ave, Regents Room (2nd Floor)

Time: 4:30pm-6:00pm

Please RSVP to Heather Harbach at harbach@uwm.edu.  Your registration helps us in our planning for this event. Please feel free to share this with other landlords that might find this session interesting! If you have further questions, please contact Heather Harbach, UWM Neighborhood Relations Liaison by e-mail at harbach@uwm.edu or by calling 414-229-4451.

Hope To See You There!

 

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Accepting Past Due Rent After Termination of Tenancy: The New Law and Traps To Avoid

The Landlord’s Omnibus Law (Act 143) introduced a new statutory section to Chapter 799 regarding situations when a landlord accepts past due rent from a tenant after the tenant’s tenancy has been terminated.  Newly created sec. 799.40(1m) states as follows:

If a landlord commences an action under this section against a tenant whose tenancy has been terminated for failure to pay rent, the action under this section may NOT be dismissed solely because the landlord accepts past due rent from the tenant after the termination of the tenant’s tenancy.

On its face, this seems like a very helpful statute for landlords.

As a quick refresher, it is important to remember that a tenant’s tenancy can be terminated in many ways such as after the “cure” period passes after being properly served with a 5 day notice, 14 days after being properly served with a 14 day notice, or when a lease term ends.

Prior to sec. 799.40(1m) being created, tenant’s advocates argued — and some courts held — that if a landlord accepted past due rent from a tenant after the expiration of the tenant’s tenancy that the landlord entered into a new agreement with the tenant for a month to month tenancy, thus waiving the landlord’s right to proceed with an eviction action based on the prior notice.

I personally believe that such arguments are hogwash, but I will not digress, as that is not the purpose of this post.

Nonetheless, because this “waiver” argument was successfully raised in the past, I have always advised my clients to err on the side of caution and not accept past due rent after the tenant’s tenancy was terminated.  A landlord can refuse past due rent in one of two ways.  First, a landlord can simply refuse the tendered past due rent from the tenant or return the rent payment to the tenant.  This is always a difficult pill for landlords to swallow as they know that by returning the rent payment to the tenant that they will never see that money again.

Second, a landlord could hold the past due rent payment in escrow (not cashing the check or money order) and immediately write what I refer to as a “no waiver” letter and send to the tenant via certified and regular mail.  A “no waiver” letter simply advises the tenant that their past due rent payment is not being accepted as their tenancy has already been terminated.  The letter also should advise the tenant that it is the landlord’s intent to pursue the eviction of the tenant and that the landlord will hold the past due rent in escrow pending a determination by the eviction court as to who legally has the right to possess the rental property.  Finally, a “no waiver” letter should again remind the tenant that the payment they made is not being accepted.

Whenever I have drafted a “no waiver” letter for a client that has accepted past due rent from a tenant post tenancy, I never had a court hold that my landlord client waived his/her right to proceed with the eviction lawsuit.  As a result, my clients have become big fans of the “no waiver” letter.

With the creation of sec. 799.40(1m), it would seem that there is no longer a need for a landlord to send a “no waiver” letter or to return a past due rent payment to a tenant . . . or is there.  I would caution landlords against thinking that this newly created statute is the panacea that it appears to be.

Let me explain.

First, if you read the new law closely — which I don’t believe the drafters did or they would have remedied this oversight – it states that an eviction based on a tenant’s failure to pay rent, may not be dismissed solely because the landlord accepts past due rent after the termination of the tenant’s tenancy.

There are many basis for terminating a tenant’s tenancy besides just failure to pay rent.  Other reasons may include the expiration of a lease term or a breach of the rental agreement for something other than non-payment of rent (i.e. criminal activity, damage to the property, loud music, illegal guests etc).  The new law does not address what happens if a landlord accepts past due rent from a tenant and the tenant’s tenancy was terminated for something other than failure to pay rent.

So literally speaking, a court could still dismiss an eviction if a landlord accepts past due rent from a tenant who’s tenancy was terminated based on something other than failure to pay rent and not run afoul of the new law.  Ouch!  What about situations in which the tenant’s tenancy was terminated for failure to pay rent AND other reasons?  Does the new law apply those situations?

A second concern with the new law arose recently in Milwaukee County.  Please note that this information was relayed to me by another person so I cannot 100% vouch that I have all the facts correct since I was not present when this happened.  What I was told was that a landlord’s eviction lawsuit, based upon a tenant’s failure to pay rent, was dismissed because the landlord accepted past due rent from the tenant after the termination of the tenant’s tenancy and failed to advise the tenant that it was the landlord’s intent to still proceed with the eviction of the tenant.  The court held that newly created sec. 799.40(1m) was not applicable in this situation because the landlord failed to advise the tenant of the fact that the landlord still intended to evict them.

Simply put, the new law is not as great as it appears — so be cautious when relying on it.  Know your judge.  Know your court commissioner.  Regardless of what the law says, if the court believes it says something else or is not applicable to your specific facts, you may not get the result that you were expecting.

So as a result of above, I am still advising my clients (despite sec. 799.40(1m) being the new law in town) that they should consider refusing to accept any past due rent from a tenant after the tenant’s tenancy has been terminated.  At the very least they should send a “no waiver” letter.

So proceed with caution.

 

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Learn About Wisconsin’s New Landlord-Tenant Law At AASEW’s Next Meeting on June 18th.

You will not want to miss the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin’s next membership meeting on June 18, 2012.  The focus of the meeting will be on Wisconsin’s new Landlord Omnibus law (Act 143).

The passage of this new law in late March made a lot of changes to landlord tenant law in Wisconsin – both residential and commercial.  Landlords and management companies will need to make modifications to their rental documents and m,anagement procedures and practices in order to be in compliance.

We will have two landlord attorneys (myself and AASEW Attorney Heiner Giese) and a tenant attorney (Bob Andersen of Legal Action of Wisconsin) at the meeting to summarize the changes to you, give you our interpretation of the law and how it will play out in court, and provide you with reccomended best practices.  Oh yeah . . . and we will also answer your questions.

This new law was rushed through the legislative process and as such it was poorly written, resulting in much confusion and a difference of opinion as to how it should be interpreted.  The panel members will do their best to point out the areas of concern so that you can be better prepared in dealing with them.

Dont forget about the FREE food.

Here are the details:

LOCATION:     Best Western Hotel located at 1005 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield WI

DATE:     Monday, June 18, 2012

TIME:     7 pm

COST:     Free to members of the AASEW; $25 to non-members — Become a member that night and pay only $59 for the rest of the year (and avoid the $25 fee).

We hope to have a great turnout and a great discussion.  I hope to see all of you there.

T

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