Archive for category Earnest Money

You Will Not Want To Miss AASEW’s Fourth Annual Landlord Boot Camp on Saturday Feb. 25th

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 of dollars.

The Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin’s Fourth Annual Landlord Boot Camp can help you navigate these treacherous waters and teach you how to run your properties with greater profit and less hassles.

I have given similar landlord-tenant law seminars to fellow attorneys, landlords, and property manager organizations throughout the state for other state-wide semianr companies that charge attendees $300-$400.  This is your opportunity to learn all of the same information at a huge discount through the Apartment Association.


Who:   Taught by Attorney Tristan R. Pettit (who drafts the landlord tenant forms for Wisconsin Legal Blank)

When:    Saturday, February 25th, 2012. 8:30 am – 5 pm

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

Included:  100 plus page manual/outline to help you put what you learn into practice plus helpful forms.

Cost:  $159 for AASEW members and $249 for non-members.  If you are not a member of AASEW but are a member of another landlord/apartment association the cost to attend will be $199.

Specials: Not a member?  Pay just a dollar more and enjoy a 2012 AASEW membership.

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

Sign up by going to the AASEW’s Landlord Boot Camp landing page where you can sign up online and pay via PayPal.


What you will learn at the Apartment Association’s 2012 Landlord Boot Camp

Landlord Boot Camp covers everything that you need to know about residential Landlord Tenant law in Wisconsin, including:

  1. How to properly screen prospective tenants.
  2. How to draft written screening criteria to assist you in the selection process and protect you from discrimination complaints.
  3. How to comply with both federal and state Fair Housing laws including how to handle 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).

. . .  and much more.  There will also be time for questions and answers.

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 and we even had to turn a few people away.  So call early to reserve your spot.

Call the Association at (414) 276-7378, email or go to our Landlord Boot Camp landing page to sign up online and reserve your spot.

Remember that “landlording” is a business — so take the time to educate yourself on how to better manage your business and avoid costly errors!

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Earnest Money Deposits . . . A Trap for the Uneducated Landlord

An earnest money deposit is defined as “the total of any payments or deposits . . . given by a prospective tenant to a landlord in return for the option of entering into a rental agreement in the future, or for having a rental agreement considered by a landlord.” 

The applicable section of the Administrative Code that deals with earnest money is ATCP 134.05 (1) and (2) and (3). 

I personally am not a big fan of collecting earnest money deposits from rental applicants. 

 The main reason is because ATCP 134.05 puts too many restrictions on these deposits in order to eliminate potential abuse by landlords.  Failure to abide by the timelines regarding earnest money deposits opens a landlord up to being sued by the applicant for double damages (double the amount of the earnest money deposit) and attorney’s fees.

A second reason I do not prefer earnest money deposits is because — for a part-time landlord like myself — it forces me to rush through the screening process.  ATCP 134.05(2)(a)3 requires me to approve a person’s rental application by the 3rd business day after taking an earnest money deposit (or else jump through a bunch of hoops and get written consent from the applicant to hold the earnest money deposit for a longer period of time). 

It’s not that I intentionally want to hold onto an applicant’s earnest money deposit if I am not going to approve them, but rather sometime things happen that prevent me from completing the screening process within 3 days . . . say an emergency at my full-time job, a personal emergency, or the applicant’s past landlord reference failing to return my call timely. 

I just do not want to be on the wrong side of a lawsuit for double damages and attorney’s fees because I couldn’t keep up with a government prescribed timeline of when I should be able to complete the screening process.

Additionally, even if you approve an applicant, and offer them a lease, and the tenant changes his mind and opts not to sign the lease – that doesn’t mean you can automatically keep the earnest money deposit . . . .  watch the video and you will learn what I mean.

Earnest money deposits are a tricky “animal”  with little “upside” (in my opinion) and lots of “downside.”  If you require applicants to make an earnest money deposit or are thinking about it — make sure you educate yourself – or else you shouldn’t be accepting them.

P.S. – No, a credit check fee is not considered to be an earnest money deposit.