The City of West Allis recently passed a new ordinance that requires all property owners to register their rental properties with the City.
The new law is contained in 3 separate ordinances. The first ordinances was passed back in August 6, 2010, followed by a repeal and revision to the original ordinance on September 24, 2010, followed by an ordinance creating a sub-section of the ordinance on October 7, 2010.
You can read all 3 ordinances here.
According to the new law, West Allis feels that landlord registration is necessary in order to properly enforce the city’s building, zoning, fire, and health codes and to safeguard persons (read “tenants”), property, and the general welfare. The city says that only by having a list of current rental property owners and their contact information can the city expeditiously process building code enforcement issues (read: “issue fines and forfeitures”).
A summary of the provisions of this new “Landlord Licensing” ordinance includes the following:
- This new ordinance applies to all residential or commercial property owners (except owners of owner-occupied one and two family properties where ownership is recorded with the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds), condominium owners (except owners of owner-occupied condos where ownership is recorded with the Register of Deeds of Milwaukee County and a Condo Declaration is established and there is an appointed agent for the association). Government-owned properties are also excluded from the ordinance’s requirements. So essentially this ordinance applies only to rental property owners.
- The owner must live within the 7 county area ( Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth Washington and Waukesha counties) or else the owner must appoint a “local operator” who lives in the 7 County area and has the authority to accept notice of violations for enforcement of city codes.
NOTE: The 1st version of the ordinance required the owner to live in the City of West Allis or that the “local operator” live in the “near area” of West Allis — whatever that means. A bit restrictive don’t you think — obviously the city agreed hence the amendment.
- A separate registration form (and fee) must be filed for each separate tax-key numbered parcel.
- The registration form must include the owner’s names, address of residence, and phone number if the owner is a person or persons. A post office box is not allowed. If a “local operator” is appointed by the owner then the registration must include the same information for the operator. The tax-key number and address of the property must also be provided on the registration form.
- The intial registration fee for the 1st year is $30 per property and $10 per property for each year thereafter. If you file online the fee is only $20 for the first year. A reduced registration fee may be offerred to those owners that attend a city-sponsored landlord training program or equivalent.
- The form and fee must be filed by November 15th each year. If filed later than Nov. 15th the fee will be increased to $100.
- Failure to file the registration form, fee, or change of information form is a violation and will result in a Notice being sent by the City. If the owner fails to comply with the Notice then the city may file a court action against the owner.
- If the West Allis Municipal Court believes that the city has proven its case against the owner with regard to failing to comply with this new ordinance, the city may impose a forfeiture of not less than $100 nor more than $500, plus the costs of the prosecution.
Unfortunately, West Allis has opted to follow in the footsteps of Milwaukee – something many of us were afraid would happen — with regard to the landlord registration/licensing. Let’s see what community is next to follow.