Oct 10

Milwaukee is preparing to expand its mandatory Residential Rental Inspection Program, i.e. landlord licensing.

If you own rental properties in Milwaukee, it is imperative that you listen to this to make future investment decisions and to prepare for the future in general.

The Apartment Association was represented at yesterday’s hearing by Attorney Heiner Giese.

Link to hearing video

Click on item 15 or scroll to 2:03:40 if you want to listen to the background and stats from Commissioner Dahlberg.

The AASEW testimony begins at 2:30 into the hearing.

Link to AASEW written comments

Link to DNS PowerPoint (as PDF)

Listening to the hearing you get a good feel for which Aldermen appreciate our work and financial investment, and those who don’t.  Aldermen Perez and Donovan clearly understand the difficulty of our industry. Alderman Donovan’s email asking the proposal be held.

I urge you to speak to the Aldermen that represent the area where your properties are located.  Explain to them the challenges and hard work that you face on an ongoing basis. Also point out how DNS does not evenly enforce codes, but holds rental properties to a different standard.

If you are a Southside landlord, I am setting up meetings with both Donovan and Perez.  If you have properties in either District please email me with your concerns, whether you are interested in attending the meetings and which District your properties are located in.

Finally, if you are not a member of the Apartment Association, you should consider joining.  For $99 a year you not only will learn a lot about how to be a more effective and profitable landlord, but a portion of your dues goes to fight things like this.  More information on the Association  or join online

Sep 27

The AASEW’s ever popular Landlord Boot Camp is just around the corner.  It will be held on Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm at the Clarion Hotel located near the airport.

At this Fall’s Boot Camp I will be updating everyone on how the courts have been handling and interpreting all of the law changes since Act 76 was passed back in March of this year.

I will also address numerous other of topics that will help you navigate Wisconsin’s complex landlord – tenant laws.  Learn how to run your properties with greater profit while staying out of trouble.  Landlording can be pretty complex, with a seemingly never ending myriad of paperwork, rules, landlord-tenant laws and simple mistakes that can cost you thousands.

Some of the other topics that will be covered include:

1) How to properly screen prospective tenants

2) How to draft written screening criteria to assist you in the tenant selection process

3) How to comply with both federal and state Fair Housing laws including how to comply with “reasonable modifications” and “reasonable accommodations” requests

4) How to legally reject an applicant

5) What rental documents you should be using and why

6) When you should be using a 5-day notice versus a 14-day notice, 28-day notice, or 30-day notice and how to properly serve the notice on your tenant

7) Everything you wanted to know (and probably even more than you wanted to know) about the Residential Rental Practices (ATCP 134) and how to avoid having to pay double damages to your tenant for breaching ATCP 134

8) When you are legally allowed to enter your tenant’s apartment

9) How to properly draft an eviction summons and complaint

10) What to do to keep the commissioner or judge from dismissing your eviction lawsuit

11) What you can legally deduct from a security deposit

 12) How to properly draft a security deposit transmittal  (“21 day”) letter

13) How to handle pet damage

14) What to do with a tenant’s abandoned property and how this may affect whether or not you file an eviction suit

15) How to pursue your ex-tenant for damages to your rental property and past due rent (and whether it is even worth it to do so)

There will also be time for “Q&A” and Lunch is included!

If that is not enough you will also receive a manual that is over 100 pages that includes all of Tristan’s outlines on the various topics and various forms.

 Who:         Taught by Attorney Tristan Pettit, who drafts the landlord tenant forms for Wisconsin Legal Blank.

When:       Saturday, October 4, 2014  from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM —- Registration opens at 7:00 AM

Where:     Clarion Hotel 5311 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee

Price:        AASEW Members only $159 .  Non AASEW Members  – $249

Register:    Go to www.LandlordBootCamp2014.com and you can register online and read prior attendees testimonials.

Last year’s AASEW Landlord Boot Camp was filled to capacity.  So much so we even had to turn people away.  So register early to reserve your spot.

I hope to see many of you there.


Aug 28

Carl Bayerl passed away after a long battle with diabetes.  He was an Apartment Association member since 1986.

You could count on Carl to be the first one in the door at every legislative hearing, every Association event and meeting.  When it took getting up at 4 AM, Carl would be there ahead of guys half his age.

Carl was never a man of many words publicly, but he loved the legislative trips to Madison.   One of my fondest memories of Carl was at one of these hearings.  When it was his turn to speak, he walked up to the committee with a telephone book, put it on the table and said something like ‘Landlords already have a stack of rules bigger than this!  And you want to add more?’ That was it and he sat back down.  It probably had more impact than all the twenty minute arguments made by me and others.

Memorial will be on Wednesday from 11pm to 1pm at

Prosser funeral home  3235 s. Howell ave.

Burial is at the VA in union Grove. This is where John Chitko is also buried.

May 01

Long time AASEW member, Attorney Cheryl Baraty passed away yesterday after a difficult battle with cancer.  Many times I thought she would win the fight.

Cheryl represented quite a few of our members in eviction court and other actions, as being active with the Association in some legislative battles.  She was a close friend to former board member Kim Queen.

One of her more interesting achievements was finding that the Department of Neighborhood Services (building inspection) court section was “robo signing” court docs  long before anyone noticed that banks were doing it also.  That resulted in a number of cases being dismissed.

Mar 25
Recently AASEW president Joe Dahl created a small firestorm over an invite he sent to a number of property owners, some AASEW members, some not; for a private fundraiser he is hosting for a candidate for the recently vacated 15th Aldermanic District seat, formerly held by Willie Hines.

If you haven’t followed the race here is a Journal overview.  Election 2014 – Five to face off in aldermanic primary to replace Willie Hines

Some members I’ve heard from felt the AASEW has become too politically involved in general, others felt that the candidate Joe is supporting is bad for our industry and still others felt everyone running in the 15th  are liberals and therefore bad for our industry and we should support no one.

Is this fundraiser an AASEW event?  Unequivocally no.  This is Joe’s private fundraiser, not an AASEW sponsored event. Neither AASEW funds nor staff time was used in any part for this fundraiser.  Go if you wish, stay home if you wish, support someone else if you wish or support no one.   The AASEW has a PAC fund that could legally support a candidate, but that is not being used here nor did Joe ask that the PAC become involved in this race.

Is the candidate Joe is supporting a liberal?  Most likely (I do not know nor have met the guy.) If you believe there is a conservative leaning, pro housing aldermanic candidate living near 27th and North you probably also believe in the Easter Bunny.  Pro housing?  In an area that 70-85% of the residents live in rental housing, if you do not support and accept rental housing you cannot say you are pro housing.

Let’s face it, whoever is elected to the seat will be more politically liberal than most of our members.

Does that mean we should have no interest in the race?  Absolutely not.  Some candidates will be less harmful to housing and us than others.  I found the former Alderman from that district, Willie Hines, to be a thoughtful and fair person in some pretty heated legislative debates. While his general views were quite different than mine, he gave us a seat at the table and let our concerns be voiced.  This generally resulted in less intrusive legislation and more effective than the original proposal notwithstanding some pretty strong opposition on the other side.  Our industry would be served best by another person like him.

Is Joe wrong to support this candidate?  I’m know some people with strong feelings either way will not move from their position. That is the way it should be.  Here is my view:

Again, no.  Just because Joe has taken on the arduous task of AASEW president doesn’t mean that he foregoes his rights to support whomever he wishes.   Ask Tristan, ask John Savage, ask Dave Domers, ask me, about how much effort being president took.

We have had board members and presidents who had leadership roles in the Republican party.  We have also had board members who were leaders in the Democratic party. Those of both political orientation represented the Association well.   My company, Affordable Rental Associates, LLC, has had Democratic State Representatives and a Democratic Senator as management clients.   What I learned from this is landlords are landlords and that typically supersedes any political affiliation.

Since becoming president Joe has had one private fundraiser for the Republican Senator who was instrumental in the passage of  ACT 76 and now this private fundraiser for a perhaps liberal candidate in a certainly liberal district.  I think that shows Joe’s efforts are focused towards the industry and not towards a political affiliation.

Joe knows this candidate personally as a former tenant of his.  Joe recently interviewed the candidate  and questioned him on issues that are important to our industry.  Joe believes the guy understands the challenges we face and how certain policies in the city suppress investment.  Joe is a smart, right minded guy.

If you feel that strongly that Joe’s personal political choices are wrong and more importantly wrong for the Association, vote him out of office in November. But I would caution you to find a suitable replacement first.

I see what Joe does for the Association on a closer level than most members.  I fully support him and truly consider Joe an effective and engaged president.  I have been on the board all but 2 of the past  25 years so I have a commitment to the group and would be one of the first to sound the bell if I thought we were headed in a bad direction..   To his credit Joe got us the Home Depot and Sherwin Williams discounts that I never achieve in my decade in the decade of being president.

Who should the Association support in this race?  No one.  We really can’t.  I would love to have the Association host a candidate forum to find out where all the entries in this crowded race stand, plus to give all the candidates an opportunity to learn about our challenges.

Should AASEW members be politically active? Absolutely.  Even if the candidate you support does not get elected your involvement has furthered the debate on our issues  and has shown all the candidates  insights into the challenges our industry faces on a regular basis.

We are one of the largest economic groups within the city.  In aggregate rental property owners in the City of Milwaukee alone spend nearly $100 million in repairs and improvements each year.  We support the City of Milwaukee with $226 million in property taxes, $26 million in special assessments and $32 million in sewer and water– each year!  We employee thousands directly or indirectly, many of whom probably would have a hard time finding stable work .  We are a significant positive force in the local economy.

Yet, despite all of our contributions, we are beaten like a redheaded stepchild by the city of  Milwaukee.

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