Posts Tagged Chapter 799

Milwaukee County to Post Notice on Who Can File and Appear in Court on Eviction Actions

A friend of mine who is an employee at the courthouse and does much work in small claims court, and more specifically eviction court, forwarded to my attention earlier today a copy of a notice that will soon be posted in Room 400 (Eviction Court) and Room 104 (Clerk of Courts) of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The notice addresses the issues of who may sign an eviction summons and complaint and who may appear in court on an eviction lawsuit.

The notice that will be posted reads as follows:

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PLEASE NOTE

 In Small Claims Eviction cases, you may only sign complaints and appear in court on behalf of a property owner if you are one of the following:

  • The property owner (if the property is not owned by a corporation/limited liability corporation)
  • A full time employee of the property owner
  • An attorney

Employees of management companies or other outside service providers may not sign complaints or appear on behalf of property owners 

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If this notice is going to be posted then it appears as if the clerks, court commissioners and judges will be dismissing eviction lawsuits that violate the above notice.

To read my earlier posts on these topics just click here and here.

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WHO MAY BRING AN EVICTION LAWSUIT

§799.40 of the Wisconsin Statutes states that an eviction action may be commenced by a “person entitled to possession of the property.” This law has often been ignored and many eviction lawsuits have been brought in the name of someone other than the owner of the property. Oftentimes a management company is named as the plaintiff rather than the actual owner of the property.

Milwaukee County is paying close attention to this issue lately. At one of my pre-trials with the court commissioner on an eviction action this week I was specifically asked by the commissioner if the plaintiff whom I was representing was the owner of the real estate. The court commissioner then proceeded to go to his computer and search the internet to confirm that my client was indeed the person who’s name was on the deed to the property.

I have heard of several eviction actions being dismissed lately because the name of the plaintiff did not match the name of the person on the deed.

While many management companies have written agreements with the owners who’s property they manage that allows the management company to bring an eviction lawsuit on behalf of the owner, I am not aware as to whether or not that argument will prevail. It might or it might not but why take the chance.

Be safe and make sure that the named plaintiff in the eviction action is the person or entity that owns the property at issue – it is the law.

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NEW PUBLISHED CASE ON EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE STAYS

We will soon have a published Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision on the issue of emergency assistance stays in eviction actions that will assist us as landlords in removing the non-paying tenant.

Sec. 799.40(4) of the Wisconsin Statutes states that a court must stay an eviction action brought against a tenant that has applied for emergency assistance.  The stay remains in effect until it is determined if the tenant is eligible for the assistance, and if they are, until that assistance is received.  For any of you that have been in this situation you are well aware that this stay can work a substantial hardship on the landlord who is now required to allow a tenant to remain in his/her property for free.  Even if the tenant is eventually awarded the emergency assistance it typically does not cover the full amount of the past due rent owed and as such the landlord declines the money and asks for his/her writ.  The tenant then uses the assistance money for the security deposit on their next apartment.

This stay can delay an eviction for months.  Such a situation is frustrating at best and an improper “taking” of a landlord’s property at worse.  In the case of McQuestion v. Crawford (Appeal No. 2008AP1096) from District I (Milwaukee) of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, it was held that “implicit in the statute’s mandate that a stay is required until the tenant receives the emergency assistance is a requirement that the tenant seek and find suitable permanent housing within a reasonable period of time.”

What is a “reasonable” amount of time will still need to be determined on a case by case basis by a judge but at least there will now be some required inquiry into the efforts made by the tenant to locate new housing and consideration made for the amount of time that this takes.  Wisconsin landlords now have case law to support our arguments that the length of the stay is no longer reasonable.

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