The Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) of the city of Milwaukee is looking to expand its Residential Rental Inspection (RRI) program to additional parts of Milwaukee. Simply put the RRI program is “landlord licensing” at its heart and it may very well be coming to your neighborhood.
As background, the RRI program was created in December of 2009 as a so-called “pilot” program. It allowed the city to enter a landlord’s rental unit (without a warrant and without requiring a tenant to make a complaint) and inspect it. If a rental unit did not pass muster it would not receive a certificate (license) from the city and could not be rented out. If the rental did pass inspection then the landlord was either issued a 4 year certificate or a 1 year certificate. Landlords were charged $85 per inspection. It was only implemented in the Lindsay Heights area and the eastside of Milwaukee near UWM.
DNS is now requesting that those two pilot areas become permanent. DNS is also requesting to expand the program. The proposed expansion would involve two phases. Phase One of the expansion would include the neighborhood around the Basilica of St. Josaphat. Phase Two of the expansion would include Washington Park, Metcalf Park, Amani, Triangle, and Clarke Square neighborhoods.
Back in 2009 the RRI program was downplayed by DNS as a short-term “pilot” program just to help those two areas. DNS also told us that the RRI program was only concerned with serious safety issues like attic bedrooms, decrepit 2nd floor porches, and extension cord wiring. Ask the owners of rental properties in Lindsay Heights and the UWM area how many building code orders they received for non-serious safety issues.
I hope that all Milwaukee landlords have now come to the realization that the plan all along has been for this to be a city wide program. Many landlords who didn’t own properties in the two pilot areas chose to bury their heads in the sand because the program did not affect them. That is no longer the case, the RRI program will encompass the entire city of Milwaukee if landlords allow it.
If you would like to read more about the plan to expand the RRI program read the Commissioner of DNS’ 9/24/14 memo to the Zoning and Development Committee and Milwaukee Common Council.
If you would like to learn more about the details of the RRI program please refer to my blog posts on this topic.
I urge all landlords in Milwaukee to contact their Alderman on this issue immediately. Also if you are not a member of the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) you should consider joining. For only $99 a year you will not only learn a lot about how to be a more effective and profitable landlord, but a portion of your dues will go to fight legislation like the RRI program.