Jan 26


This past week, taking advantage of the moderate weather, we began our annual exterior survey of our properties a bit earlier than normal. We walk around the exteriors of all the properties to set a prioritized project list for spring/summer 2015.

The neighborhoods we operate in are the near Southside, from just north of National to Cleveland, 1st to 36th.

While the primary focus is reviewing our properties, we also get a good sense of what is happening generally in the neighborhoods.

If this was a rock band I would have called this the “Fresh Mud and New Green Board Tour” It was absolutely surprising how many properties have been bulldozed and how many more properties are boarded and abandoned since doing the fall review in Sept/Oct of last year.

Anyone who tells you the real estate market on the near Southside has or is rebounding from the 2008 housing bubble hasn’t been out much. ūüėČ I wrote about what I was seeing in the past ¬†and again here.¬† It is much worse now.

Many of the new board ups are nice looking properties. However as they accumulate city ‚Äúreinspection fees‚ÄĚ and fines they get to the point they cannot be sold and languish until they are stripped of all value, foreclosed upon by the city for taxes and ultimately razed.

But at least the city was able to tack some fees on it. Fees that they never collected because when the City becomes the owner the only thing left to do was bulldoze  them. (The one pictured in the link is now a mud lot).  Many of these are Zombie Houses

We are seeing sale prices in Milwaukee that make Detroit almost look like a healthy market.

The sales below are listed in¬†the Journal’s Recent Deals sales listing

$11,000: 2356 W Becher St – MILWAUKEE (01/06/15)
$4,000: 2328 S 4th St – MILWAUKEE (01/15/15)
$1,000: 1962 S 16th St – MILWAUKEE (01/02/15)
$3,375: 4624 N 29th St – MILWAUKEE (01/13/15)
$2,850: 323 E Chambers St – MILWAUKEE (12/05/14)
$2,625: 2904 N 16th St – MILWAUKEE (11/24/14)
$37,000: 3410 S 1st PL – MILWAUKEE (01/16/15) ‚ÄĒ a pretty nice neighborhood.

Jan 25

It appears the¬†Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association’s lawsuit against their code enforcement will settle favorably for the owners.

1,000 Omaha rental property owners ¬†filed a federal lawsuit in July 2013 alleging¬†arbitrary and capricious enforcement of the city’s housing code. ¬†Speaking to a couple of the owners their complaints are similar to ours, including¬†the city ignoring¬†owner occupied properties in disrepair while enforcing stringently on rental homes.

From the Federal complaint:

The City of Omaha has not adopted any specific rules, regulations, or interpretations of its very broad and general housing code. Instead, the City of Omaha has unlawfully designated the ability to make, interpret, and enforce Omaha housing law (including through unconstitutional means) on a case-by-case basis solely upon the unfettered discretion of each of its code inspectors. The system has no uniformity, consistency, or standard operating procedure and has fostered gross abuses, hardship, and violations of Federal and State Constitutional rights upon Omaha property owners. There are no adequate safeguards or protections in place and Omaha property owners are left without an adequate remedy or meaningful judicial review under State law.

Read the full complaint here.  Link to other case files

The Omaha World-Herald is reporting:

A proposed lawsuit settlement agreement between the City of Omaha and a landlord group faces questions and amendments when it goes before the Omaha City Council on Tuesday.

The agreement would settle a federal lawsuit filed against the city by the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.

The agreement includes an overhaul of the city’s ordinances and procedures on housing code enforcement.

It also includes a consent decree under which the landlords could haul the city back into U.S. District Court if the city changed those codes or procedures in the future.


Jan 18


I maintain a couple of lists of tenant screening resources.

The purpose of this post is twofold.

  1. To share these resources so any owner can improve their screening
  2. To tap into the knowledge of the readers to improve the lists for the benefit of all who use the list.

One source is WI owners so you can look up the tenant’s current address and see who really owns the property:


The other is a list of court record sites across the nation to help screen out of state applicants.


Info on the internet changes and moves.  

I would appreciate if anyone has additional resources or finds in active resources that they put it in the comments and I will update the lists for all to use. 

Jan 10

Attorney Heiner Giese on behalf of the Apartment Association filed an Amicus brief with the WI Supreme Court supporting the City of Milwaukee Housing Authority in their case against Cobbs. This case was heard by the Supreme Court yesterday.

Basically the case revolves around the federal “one strike and you’re out” rule for Section 8 housing and the state of WI’s notice requirements for lease violations. ¬†The tenant advocates did a good job in selecting a sympathetic case to proceed on.

As most of you know*, in WI you must give a tenant under a lease for a term a five day notice with right to cure for the first lease violation within the term of that lease. ¬†This is fine if perhaps they are a bit noisy one time. ¬†However it fails when there is a criminal act. ¬†Justice¬†Gableman asked the Legal Action attorney to explain how 1st Degree murder be cured as long as the tenant doesn’t do it again.

A link to the oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court is at:


WI’s laws on lease violations are generally goofy. ¬†You have to give a tenant the right to cure for lease violations including criminal acts under a lease for a term, but you are not permitted to use a 5 Day Breach with right to cure for a month to month tenant even for minor lease violations. ¬†So when your month to month tenant has the radio too loud you have to either ignore it or give them a 14 Day without a right to cure.

One of our Association’s legislative initiatives for 2015 is to change the law to permit a 5 Day with right to cure for month to month tenants as well as allowing for a notice with no right to cure for criminal acts regardless of the length of the rental agreement.

Jan 06

Attorney John Shoemaker sends us:


Update on Disparate Impact fight set for oral argument 1/21/2015 before the US Supreme Court in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project.



Symposium: The case for disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act

Joe Rich and Thomas Silverstein are attorneys at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, which filed an amicus brief in support of the respondent, Inclusive Communities Project.

“A decision from the Supreme Court upholding the use of the disparate impact standard to enforce the Act will preserve long-settled expectations and avoid upending decades of settled case law, an untenable outcome that would absolve actors who have known for decades that they are liable under the Act for actions with significant, unjustified disparate impact.


“The text of the FHA is likely to be the primary focus of the Court. On its face, the statutory language strongly supports the conclusion, uniformly accepted in the lower courts for nearly four decades, that the Act authorizes disparate impact claims.


[Will Justice Scalia give deference to HUD’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act?]

‚ÄúEven if the Court concludes that the text of the Act does not conclusively support recognition of disparate impact claims, the language is, at a minimum, ambiguous. Indeed, in the wake of decades of consistent judicial interpretation supporting the disparate impact standard, it is hard to imagine how the Court could conclude that the language of the Act is unambiguously limited to disparate treatment claims.¬† The Court made clear in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. NRDC, Inc., that when a statute ‚Äúis silent or ambiguous with respect to the specific issue, the question for the court is whether the agency‚Äôs answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.‚ÄĚ The agency has the power to ‚Äúfill any gap left, implicitly or explicitly by Congress.‚ÄĚ Under Chevron, the Court ordinarily defers to an administering agency‚Äôs reasonable statutory interpretation, and Justice Antonin Scalia gave such deference to the EEOC‚Äôs interpretation of the ADEA in his concurring opinion in Smith.

‚ÄúTexas agrees ‚ÄĒ it argued in the Fifth Circuit in this case that HUD‚Äôs interpretation of the FHA should be afforded Chevron deference, and it prevailed when that court adopted HUD‚Äôs three-part burden-shifting approach for disparate impact claims under the Act. It is more than a bit ironic that Texas, which was victorious in the Fifth Circuit and yet sought Supreme Court review, now abandons this position.

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