Sep 18

Just click the link below to create a letter to your Congressperson and Senator. It will take only a couple of minutes.

Okay, do this NOW!. No, no, not later, but now. 😉

Thank you! –Tim

Tuesday, September 15 (Washington, DC): Today, the Bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus announced a compromise proposal on another round of COVID-19 stimulus. While details are still coming out, the package reportedly includes rental assistance of up to $25 billion. What’s more, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced that the House will stay in session “until we have a deal.” These are both positive signs; however, the CDC’s eviction moratorium is still in place so it is vital that a dedicated, robust rental assistance program be enacted!

Please tell Congress that an eviction moratorium by itself will devastate the apartment industry and does nothing to protect apartment communities and the 17.5 million jobs supported by the industry. We MUST have a robust rental assistance program!

An eviction moratorium may keep residents in their homes in the short term, but it will just put them months behind in their payments that they will struggle to ever make up.

And, months of rental defaults will cripple our industry’s ability to protect our communities, pay our employees and meet our own financial obligations. Already, we are seeing smaller independent owners drain their reserves to keep their businesses afloat while some residents have been unable or unwilling to pay.

Please contact your members of Congress TODAY before it’s too late and tell them to pass emergency rental assistance and not eviction moratoriums! 

Sep 12

This issue will affect both parties. Heiner Giese, an attorney with Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) says, “The question is, how are these people going to get paid? Will people lose their housing? What will landlords do in the meantime about municipal water bills, taxes, insurance or maintenance.”

Sep 12

It’s hard to hear it above the din, but the renter eviction moratorium has housing trade groups and nonprofits sounding an alarm.

“Rental assistance is necessary to pull the country back from the brink of a housing and financial crisis,” according to groups calling on Congress to step in that include the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Home Builders, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Multifamily Housing Council, National Association of Housing Cooperatives, National Apartment Association and others.

The devil is in the details of this road paved with good intentions.

“This is fluid right now and seems to be changing frequently. It sounds great to keep people in their homes, but making the total rents due Jan. 1, and allowing fees and interest (if it is in the lease) is setting people up to fail. That combined with the people (landlords) not able to pay the mortgage without the rent and being foreclosed on is going to end up putting people on the street in spite of these good intentions,” â€” Kathy Fowler, secretary-treasurer of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors and managing broker at McGraw Realtors.

Sep 09

Axios has a good article on the health of small businesses, well if you read it good is not a thought that comes to mind…

Failure of small businesses is bad for both commercial landlords, and because 49.2% of America’s private-sector employees work in a small business, it will impact the long term viability of residential rentals as well.


From the SBA

Small businesses make up:
99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms, 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs, 49.2 percent of private-sector employment, 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll, 46 percent of private-sector output, 43 percent of high-tech employment, 98 percent of firms exporting goods, and
33 percent of exporting value.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, SUSB, CPS; International Trade Administration; Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED; Advocacy-funded research, Small Business GDP: Update 2002- 2010,

Sep 08

Year to date evictions are down 28%.  August evictions are down down 37%.

In fact if you exclude the moratorium months of March, April and May, Milwaukee evictions are still down over 6%.

 Yet rent collections are off 8-16%, showing owners are working with tenants in unprecedented ways.

Milwaukee County Evictions
Sep 07

Now more than ever, “We are all in this together.”  The seemingly adversarial interactions of the past no longer serve anyone.  Those representing rental housing and those representing folks living in rental housing must work in unison to fix problems that have existed in the lower end of the market for as long as I’ve been in business.

A spokeswoman for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which frequently represents tenants facing eviction, also noted that landlords’ financial well-being is crucial for people to maintain housing.

“Rent assistance is needed to ensure rent payments continue to be paid to landlords. Without rent assistance to help fund this order, many tenants will face an insurmountable rent burden when the moratorium lifts,” the spokeswoman said. “Also, there will be a profound impact on many landlords’ ability to continue their business.”

In 1991, I was interviewed by a few national publications regarding the termination of a Christmas eviction moratorium in Milwaukee. While those articles are not online, a similar statement I made in a 2010 NYT article is:

Tim Ballering, who owns or manages some 900 rental units in Milwaukee, said a basic problem was the growing imbalance between low-end incomes and rents. A minimum-wage worker may gross little more than $1,100 a month; a welfare recipient in Wisconsin receives $673 a month, while two-bedroom units start at about $475.

“On $673 a month, how do you buy tennis shoes for the kids, clean shirts for school and still pay your rent?” Mr. Ballering said.

Nearly 30 years later, not much has changed.  Maybe COVID will be a blessing in disguise, allowing meaningful discussions that extend well past this current crisis.

Sep 06

This is one of the better articles I’ve read outlining the problems and questions surrounding the CDC order,25832

Sep 04

The earlier CDC release stated that tenants did not have to provide proof with the declaration, but the landlord could request/challenge it.

The published rule, but of course it is not a rule, but an order,  as rules have rules, does not appear to have a mechanism to challenge the validity of the tenants’ declarations. (see below)  Instead, I guess you have to report the tenant to the FBI if you feel they lied. 

It is uncertain what an owner must do to be found in violation.  Do you actually have to evict after receiving a declaration, which courts should prevent from occurring?  Or would issuing a summons after receiving a declaration trigger a violation?  But how do you challenge the validity of the declaration if not in court?

I do not see specifically that issuing a 5-Day notice is a violation, but I’m sure that will be argued.
A lawyer can also help if a landlord tries a different approach. For instance, a landlord might try to sue in small claims court over partial payments, without filing an eviction notice that might be illegal under the order, Mr. Dunn said.

The sample declaration form does not say anything about whether I need to prove my hardship to my landlord. Should I attach bank statements or other documents?

No, not to the declaration — at least not at first. The way the order is written means you need not lay out specifics in your declaration, said Emily Benfer, a visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University.

If the landlord challenges your initial assessment, however, you should provide “reasonable” specifics to prove your eligibility, according to senior administration officials who helped write the order.

This last sentence was in the CDC press release two days ago but is absent now.

Aug 30

Matt Desmond’s op-ed piece in today’s NYT is a prime example of the over-emphasizing of relative differences in eviction filings:

In the last week of July, eviction filings were 109 percent above average levels in Milwaukee.” 

If one narrows the range enough, picking and choosing that which fits their predefined scenario, one can use otherwise factual data to say anything. 

A more accurate reflection of what is happening in the Milwaukee rental market is eviction filings are down by 26.6% YTD through 07/31/2020, despite an anecdotal 8-12% greater than normal non-payment. Rent has always been the financial elasticity in the “C” market, be it Christmas gifts, car repairs, or job loss.

If too many owners fail because they cannot collect enough rent to cover expenses, housing opportunities will only become more restricted and expensive. Municipalities will also fail as they “eat” three to four times more rent dollars in property taxes and municipal utilities than typical owners receive for their efforts and return on investment. 

Many scholars are warning of such widespread failures in the rental market. One example: Tenant Rights, Eviction, and Rent Affordability (July 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

In national interviews dating back to 1991, I’ve pointed out the near impossibility of paying rent for those with limited income. While the older articles are not online, here is a NYT interview from a decade ago:

On $673 a month, how do you buy tennis shoes for the kids, clean shirts for school and still pay your rent?” Mr. Ballering said.” ($673 was the W2, welfare, cash benefit at the time)

Sadly nothing has changed in these 30 years. 

I fully agree with Desmond’s statement buried near the end of the op-ed, “Eviction is not a solution to landlords’ fundamental problem of maintaining rental income. Rent relief is.”  I would have been pleased to see this as your closing call to action.

The COVID crisis presents an opportunity for housing advocates, whether from the tenant or property owner perspective, to jointly push for a long term solution, which Matt Desmondinitially advocated for; portable housing vouchers.

Aug 30

A published research paper that found:

“Our research shows that in order to keep rental housing affordable and sustainable for low-income families, lawmakers have to walk a fine line in determining what will benefit the tenant and what may ultimately be detrimental to them,” Shen said. “On the surface, strict landlord regulation sounds good for tenants, but our paper points out, the solution isn’t that simple. The research suggests that conventional thinking on the issue of more regulation may have the opposite effect on tenants.”

“Though advocating for tenant rights seems noble and the right thing to do, the resulting consequences could have a devastating impact on this vulnerable population,” Shen said. “Our research indicates that if landlords aren’t allowed to evict, rent will likely increase to compensate for their losses. The housing supply would diminish, though the demand would still exist. These landlords may choose alternative investments if owning property is no longer feasible. A reduced housing supply would mean less competition, which would drive up the cost of rent for everyone.

Coulson, N. Edward and Le, Thao and Shen, Lily, Tenant Rights, Eviction, and Rent Affordability (July 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: or
preload preload preload