Second Lawsuit Filed Alleging Local Ordinance Violates Wisconsin’s New Landlord Tenant Law (Act 76)

I just read in the Wausau Daily Herald today that a second legal challenge has been filed based on Wisconsin’s new landlord-tenant law (Act 76).  The city of Wausau is getting sued by several local landlords over its Residential Rental Licensing Ordinance which requires that rentals be inspected every three years for compliance with the city’s local building codes.

One of the arguments in the lawsuit is that the ordinance is contrary to sec 66.0104, Wis. Stats (which was created by Act 76) and prohibits municipalities from enacting or enforcing certain ordinances that affect landlords and tenants.  I have covered this aspect in great detail in a prior blog post.

The first lawsuit was filed in La Crosse by the same attorney that is representing the Wausau landlords.

The Wausau landlords are seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the city from enforcing their Residential Rental Licensing Ordinance.


Free Bed Bug Seminar On July 10, 2014

Batzner Bed Bug Services, Inc. will be hosting their 4th Annual Bed Bug Seminar at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel at 375 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield on Thursday, July 10, 2014.  The seminar will run from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm.

The seminar is FREE and includes lunch.

Topics will include basic bed bug information, bed bug history, bed bug monitoring, challenges, and trends and legal issues pertaining to bed bug.  The seminar will also include a panel discussion and a demonstration by Batzner’s bed bug scent detection canine team. 

A copy of the detailed brochure can be viewed by clicking here.

I will be presenting on the topic of “Legal Issues Pertaining to Bed Bugs and How Landlords Can Protect Themselves” and will be speaking at approximately 1:15 pm

Pre-registration is required. 

So far there are 100 attendees pre-registered.  This should be a great event and well worth the cost . . . . oh wait, there is no cost – it is FREE!

Hope to see many of you there.



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Act 76 – Wisconsin’s New Landlord Tenant Law – Part 6: Alternative Disposition of Property During Eviction

Act 76, has amended sec. 799.45 Wis. Stats., and created new options for a landlord to dispose of a tenant’s abandoned personal property after the writ has been executed by the Sheriff and the rental unit has been returned to the landlord’s possession.

Under the old law, if the rental property was located in a county with a population greater than 500,000 people, a landlord was required to hire a moving company to remove any of the tenant’s property that was determined to be of value.  Under the old law, if the rental property was located in a county of less than 500,00 people, a landlord could remove the tenant’s abandoned property of value himself but was required to post a bond before doing so, which could be very expensive.

With the passage of Wisconsin’s new Landlord-Tenant law, Act 76, a landlord can now remove any of the tenant’s abandoned property himself, regardless of the size of the county in which the rental property is located, once the Sheriff has executed the writ and the rental property has been returned to the possession of the landlord, and assuming the landlord has complied with the other requirements of sec. 705.05(5), Wis. Stats.

Many landlords — as well as the press reporting on the new law — misunderstood the new law and believed that a landlord was no longer required to involve the Sheriff in the eviction.  That is not the case.  Act 76 did not remove the requirement of involving the Sheriff.  The Sheriff must still be hired to remove a tenant that has not voluntarily surrendered the rental unit and the Sheriff is still necessary to return the rental property to the possession of the landlord.

What Act 76 did was remove the requirement that a moving company be used in larger counties and remove the requirement that a landlord post a bond in smaller counties with regard to the removal and disposal of any belonging left by the tenant.

Under the new law a landlord now has three options to choose from when hiring the Sheriff to forcibly remove a tenant and return the rental unit to the possession of the landlord.

1.  The landlord can choose to operate under the old law  — and most of my clients are electing to do this — and still involve and pay for a moving company.  The Sheriff will then remove any tenant still on the premises and return the rental property to the landlord.  The moving company will then remove any tenant property of value left behind and take it to a storage facility.  The Sheriff will remain at the rental property until the moving company has completed its work.

2.  The landlord can choose to hire the Sheriff only.  Under this scenario, the Sheriff will remove any tenant still on the premises and return the rental property to the landlord.  The Sheriff will then leave.  The landlord can then dispose of any tenant property left behind as set forth in sec. 705.05 (5), Wis. Stats. (assuming the landlord has the required language in his rental agreement allowing him to dispose of the abandoned property  — see sec. 704.05(5)(bf)  – and abides by the exceptions to the disposal rules — see sec. 704.05(5)(am) and (b)).

3.  The landlord can opt to hire the Sheriff only but also elect to have the Sheriff stick around while the landlord disposes of the tenant’s property (assuming the landlord has the required language in his rental agreement allowing him to dispose of the abandoned property  — see sec. 704.05(5)(bf)  — and abides by the exceptions to the disposal rules — see sec. 704.05(5)(am) and (b)).  This option allows the landlord a greater sense of security as the Sheriff will still be present should the tenant decide to visit.  Please be aware however that under this option the Sheriff may have certain requirements that must be followed by the landlord, such as requiring the landlord to have a certain number of people assisting him with the removal of the tenant’s property, so that the Sheriff is not sitting around for hours waiting for a single landlord to remove and dispose of a tenant’s belongings.

Essentially those are the 3 options that a landlord now has to choose from if it becomes necessary to execute a writ of restitution with the Sheriff.  While many counties are still working out the details, the feedback that I have received from the various counties in which I practice, has been that things have been going much more smoothly then the press and tenant advocates had prophesized.



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SEMINAR – Business Killers: Avoiding The 6 Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Business and Your Future

As I always mention at the outset of my seminars, landlording is a business.  Many landlords do not understand this and do not treat it as such resulting in many problems.  Most people would not dare to open a restaurant or a cell phone store or any other kind of business without putting together a business plan and learning about the laws and rules regarding their new business — yet new landlords do this all the time to their own detriment.

While this blog is primarily focused on landlord tenant law, occasionally I post about general business matters or mention a upcoming business seminar because such information is still applicable to landlords and management companies, as they are running a business.  Today is one such post.

Atty. Carina Garcia of my law firm, Petrie & Stocking S.C., will be providing a free seminar called “Business Killer: Avoiding the 6 Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Business and Your Future” on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 8 am at the Milwaukee Athletic Club located at 758 N. Broadway in downtown Milwaukee.

There is no cost to attend this seminar and a light breakfast will be served.

If you are interested in learning some best practices about how to run your business and how not to squander all the wealth and time that you have put into your business — whether the business be landlording or something else — than you should attend this seminar.

Pre-registration is required.  You can pre-register by contacting Attorney Garcia directly at (414) 276-2850 or via email at  Pre-registration must be completed prior to June 9th.


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First Legal Challenge As A Result of Act 76 (Wisconsin’s New Landlord Tenant Law)

I just read an article on today about what I believe to be the first legal challenge as a result of the passage of Act 76 – Wisconsin’s new landlord tenant law.

Two local landlords in La Crosse, Wisconsin are suing the city of La Crosse over its new registration and inspection ordinance which only applies to rental units.  Per the article written by Dave Solie of, local attorney Bernardo Cueto filed the suit recently and says the ordinance violates Act 76 because it requires landlords to follow rules not required of other landowners.  Mr. Cueto is quoted as saying “Act 76 was designed to promote equality between homeowners and renters and protect renters from unreasonable rules created by local governments and intrusions on their homes and privacy.”

Act 76 amended sec. 66.0104, Wis Stats. and prohibits municipalities from enacting or enforcing certain ordinances that affect landlords and tenants, which I have discussed fully in a prior blog post.

The La Crosse Tribune also covered the lawsuit filing.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as there was a similar ordinance enacted in Wausau recently and of course good ol’ Milwaukee has the Residential Rental Inspection (RRI) pilot program which is very similar in nature.


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Act 76 – Wisconsin’s New Landlord Tenant Law – Part 5: Domestic Violence Notice Langauge & More Prohibited Rental Agreement Provisions

Act 76 has made many changes to Landlord-Tenant law in Wisconsin, some of which I have explained in prior blog posts.  One of the biggest changes, which I have not yet blogged about, is the requirement that a landlord include language notifying tenants of certain domestic abuse protections in all rental agreements or addenda as of March 1, 2014.

The required language is set forth in sec. 704.14, Wis. Stats. and must be included verbatim in the rental agreement – it cannot be modified or summarized.

The language that must be included is:



(1) As provided in section 106.50 (5m) (dm) of the Wisconsin statutes, a tenant has a defense to an eviction action if the tenant can prove that the landlord knew, or should have known, the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking and that the eviction action is based on conduct related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking committed by either of the following:

(a) A person who was not the tenant’s invited guest.

(b) A person who was the tenant’s invited guest, but the tenant has done either of the following:

1. Sought an injunction barring the person from the premises.

2. Provided a written statement to the landlord stating that the person will no longer be an invited guest of the tenant and the tenant has not subsequently invited the person to be the tenant’s guest.

(2) A tenant who is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking may have the right to terminate the rental agreement in certain limited situations, as provided in section 704.16 of the Wisconsin statutes. If the tenant has safety concerns, the tenant should contact a local victim service provider or law enforcement agency.

(3) A tenant is advised that this notice is only a summary of the tenant’s rights and the specific language of the statutes governs in all instances.


Unfortunately many landlords are not even aware of this new requirement.  Others complain that this will make their rental agreements 1/2 page longer.  Depending on formatting – this very well may be true.  Nonetheless, any rental agreements that are entered into or renewed as of March 1, 2014, must include this language.  If your rental agreement does not contain this language you your rental agreement will be declared void and unenforceable.

Why is that you ask?  Keep reading.

Act 76 also modified and created additional provisions that cannot be included in a Landlord’s rental agreement.  If a landlord includes any prohibited provision in his/her rental agreement the lease will be void and unenforceable.  I affectionately refer to these illegal provisions as the “10 Deadly Sins.”

Act 76 created the 10th Deadly Sin which is directly related to the DV protection language discussed above.

A rental agreement will be void and unenforceable if it allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy of a tenant for a crime committed in relation to the rental property if it does not also include the new domestic abuse protection language set forth in sec. 704, 14, Wis. Stats.

This is huge.  So hopefully any rental agreements that you have entered into since March 1st of this year contain this required language.  If they do not, you should immediately create an Addendum to your rental agreement that includes the DV notice language and send it to your tenants immediately so that you are in compliance.  If you are using pre-printed rental agreement forms you must insure that they have been updated to include this language.  I can assure you that the rental agreement form that I draft for Wisconsin Legal Blank Co. has had this language added.  Going forward you only should be using the WLB rental agreement form that has a publication date of 2/17/14 or later.

Act 76 also modified the 9th Deadly Sin which was created by Act 143 (which became law in March 31, 2012).  The “old” 9th Deadly Sin stated that a rental agreement was void if it allowed a landlord to evict a tenant as a result of a crime committed in or on the rental property if the tenant could not have reasonably prevented the crime.  This language was problematic for many landlords.  As such the 9th Deadly Sin was modified in Act 76 to read:

A rental agreement will be void and unenforceable if it contains a provision that allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy of a tenant based solely on a crime being committed if the tenant, or someone lawfully living with them, is a victim of that crime.

Hopefully there will not be any new Deadly Sins created in the near future.  If there are, we will end up having more clauses that cannot be included in a residential rental agreement than can be included ; ).


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Only 7 Days Left To Sign Up For Landlord Boot Camp on March 8th

There are just 7 days left to register for Landlord Boot Camp!!!

Come learn about Wisconsin’s new Landlord Tenant law – Act 76 – plus everything else you need to know about Landlord-Tenant law in Wisconsin.

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

You will also receive lunch.

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 remainder of 2014 including member discounts at Home Depot, Sherwin Williams and more.

Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws are constantly changing and with Act 76 becoming effect on March 1st — the law has had some significant changes.

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 or judge 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.  Who can appear in court to handle an eviction as of March 1st.
  17.  What language you must have in your rental agreement starting March 1st or risk a court declaring it void and unenforceable.

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 or you can call the Association at (414) 276-7378 or email them today to reserve your spot.


Hope to see many of you there.



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