Wisconsin’s small claims jurisdictional limit was increased from $5,000 to $10,000 effective July 1, 2011. This increase was included in Governor Walker’s 2011-2013 Budget Bill.
The jurisidictional limit for small claims in Wisconsin was set at $5,000 back in 1995 and has remained the same for 16 years.
I see this as a positive change for debt collectors and potentially landlords.
All eviction actions — regardless of the amount of rent owed — must be brought in small claims court as small claims has exclusive jurisdiction of all eviction actions. Because of this, a landlord is allowed to receive a judgment for past due rent well beyond $5,000. So this jurisdictional change will not affect the amount of any past due rent judgement. But until now, a landlord was limited to obtaining a judgment for $5,000 or less in small claims for any physical damages to the rental property caused by the tenant. So this increase in small claims jurisdictional limit will be advantageous for landlords in such a situation.
Additionally, this change will also positively affect landlords bringing straight collection actions (which does not include a cause of action for eviction) against ex-tenants that skipped out owing past-due rent and/or damages greater than $5,000.
Since most tenants are not collectible, I am not sure if this change will greatly affect landlords . . . but it certainly won’t hurt them.