Governor Walker is scheduled to sign AB568 into law on Monday 2/29/16. Link to the text of the new 2016 Wisconsin Landlord Tenant law, ACT 176 This is the third major revision to WI Landlord Tenant Law in three years.
It will take a while to digest all the implications of the new bill, even for those of us who watched it go through the legislative process over the last six months or so.
Some of the highlights:
- The new law allows the termination of a tenancy for criminal activity. Drug dealing is one of the crimes you can evict for, but simple possession or use of drugs is not. Politically, allowing possession was necessary. But it is still disappointing that owners that wish to, still cannot expect drug free housing. With this new tool to address problems year leases are practical in more situations than they are today. An advantage of leases is less turn over and that should make neighborhoods more stable. Keep in mind that the Wisconsin protections for domestic abuse victims remain in place.
- Another change affects month to month tenancies – The ability to use 5 Day notices for breaches. Now when the tenant shows up with a pit bull you can respond with a 5 Day instead of a 14 Day. An advantage to the tenant is they can correct their mistake and not lose their home. This may also permit the including of late fees and other charges that the tenant owes on a 5 Day notice. I will get clarification on this.
There are a bunch of changes that should help keep local governments a bit more in check. This legislation:
- Prohibits rental property inspections except upon a complaint or as part of a program of regularly scheduled inspections conducted in compliance with state or federal law. Think fire inspections.
- Dramatically changes “Reinspection Fee” by limiting the the escalating fee scheme as well as allowing fees only when there was an actual, physical inspection of the property. Currently these fees double every 30 Days until they are six times the original fee, plus often there is no actual inspection associated with the fee. This is important as many of the abandoned and foreclosed homes in my neighborhoods appear to have ended up in that state in part due to fees imposed by Milwaukee. The fees imposed these properties also make it harder for someone to come in, buy the property and put it back in service.
- Prohibits rental property certification or licensing schemes unless the requirement applies uniformly to all residential rental property owners, including owners of owner-occupied rental property.
- The law still allows for programs such as Milwaukee’s Property Recording Ordinance, but most likely they will no longer be able to charge a fee.
- Prohibits an occupancy or transfer of tenancy fee on a rental unit.
Time of Sale protections
- The bill prohibist local regulations with respect to taking title to or occupancy of property.
The new law also changes things with regards to sprinklers, historical buildings, trespass and towing.
Stay tuned as we get more information on what these changes mean to us and what lease language will be updated.