Dec 21


If landlords like Hahlbeck go out of business, there will be even less affordable housing for low-income families, says Heiner Giese, an attorney for the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin. Both landlords and tenants agree that a lack of such housing is at the heart of the problem.

Sep 27

Attorney Tristan Pettit, you know, the guy that writes the standard legal forms for Wisconsin Legal Blank, is doing his landlord-tenant Boot Camp again on Saturday, October 7th. There are still a few seats left.

You get a full day of landlord-tenant law training for the price you’ll spend for 30 minutes of attorney time after you make a mistake in this complex area of law,

All the details are at:

But the proof of value is I send my staff to Tristan’s Boot Camps.  Even though I know the laws, it is of great value to have staff learn what they need to be concerned about in a different setting than the office.

May 04

Attorney Tristan Pettit recently posted on the most recent in a series of attempts to restrict access to Wisconsin online court records. Current proposals would hide from public view both dismissed criminal cases as well as stipulated dismissals of evictions.  These attempts to restrict access to or hide records is detrimental not only for screening tenants but to families that want to make sure people they hire to work in their homes or care for their children are safe to be around.

Current proposals would create rules to hide from public view certain dismissed criminal cases as well as stipulated dismissals of evictions.

The latter is the troublesome part as stipulated dismissals of evictions are often the most expedient and polite way of getting your property back while avoiding the costs of a Sheriff move.  Evictions are expensive and time-consuming. Owners do not evict on a whim.

These attempts to restrict access to or hide records is detrimental not only for screening tenants but to families that want to make sure people they hire to work in their homes or care for their children are safe to be around.

One member asked, “What can we do to stop this?”  The Apartment Association is working on state legislation to keep these records available. As that process moves forward it is important that we reach out to our elected officials and let them know how important it is to you to be able to access court records.

First, you should reach out to those who represent you – where you live.  Then you should reach out to those who represent the areas where your properties are located, letting them know that such attempts restrict your ability to avoid renting to those that will be disruptive or cause financial losses that will limit your ability to provide the best housing possible.

But, who are my elected officials you ask?  Two websites quickly provide the answer.

Fastest, for state legislators only is Find Your Legislator This site allows you to simply click a button to use your current location to find those reps.

If you want local officials as well as available social media contacts for all your elected officials, then I recommend Who Are My Representatives.  They do not list Milwaukee Aldermen, however, which is odd given the number of officials they do provide info for.


Feb 09

For the past couple of years, we have sold out both the spring and fall sessions of Attorney Tristan Pettit’s AASEW Landlord Tenant Law Boot Camp.

It looks like we are on track to do the same for the upcoming February 18th, 2017 Boot Camp.

Last fall I waited too long to sign up my new staff members and could not get them in. I signed up three staff people very early for this one. 😉

You may ask ‘Why would Tim pay $537 plus wages to send three people to Boot Camp when he knows the laws so well?’

The answer is easy: One small mistake or missed opportunity will cost us far more than this. It is important that my folks know the law as WI landlord Tenant Law is not always what a reasonable person would assume it to be. And this is ever evolving, with both new laws, new interpretations by courts and new tricks by tenant advocates*. This is not the first time we’ve sent staff either.

This course is presented by Attorney Tristan Pettit. Tristan’s law practice focuses on landlord-tenant law, he is a current board member of the Apartment Association as well as former president, and drumroll please, he writes all the standard landlord tenant forms for Wisconsin Legal Blank.

If you want to go, now that my seats are secure ;-), you can sign up online or call Joy at the Association 414-276-7378 and reserve a spot.

* Most “tenant advocates” only advocate for tenants that break the rules. This ultimately costs the rest of the good tenants more in increased rents and decreased service or more noise and disruption… but this is another story for another day.

Dec 22

A reader sent this to me today. I thought it was worth sharing as his frustration has been echoed by many owners lately.

I read your blog and wanted to relate my experience yesterday, Wednesday, October 21st with the disaster of the Milwaukee Kangaroo Eviction Court.

  1. Case is called by clerk. Myself and the tenant come forward.
  2. It is automatically placed with a commissioner for the commissioner to conduct a hearing.
  3. When the commissioner calls the case for the hearing, I come forward, but the tenant is gone. Has he just taken off? Who knows, but get this, the commissioner suggests that I go out into the hallway outside the court room to see if I can find the tenant! What? Being the good person that I am, I do that, TWICE within about 5-10 minutes of the commissioner telling me that he will recall the case and to give it a “few” minutes. I let him know that I have parking that is about to expire (I had already extended it the maximum amount of time). The commissioner seems indifferent.
  4. After the MKE Park program notifies me my parking has expired, I tell myself I have had it, and I approach the clerks’ pen (where by the way they now have 3 clerks there, instead of what was traditionally two clerks, one calling and the other as “support”. But now they have a third person, in this case I lady I have seen in the past who used to be the “support” clerk, just standing where the files are placed for the commissioner to call the case for hearings, standing and talking, really doing nothing). Well, I am in the process of letting the third support lady know that my parking is expired and I would like the case called whether the tenant is there or not, when the tenant smoothly walks up and is by my side like nothing has happened. What? No reprimand from the commissioner or the clerk, but they turn on me with the approach that nothing has happened, where I had to explain that I had been sitting on the front row bench waiting for the case to be called, and all the third support clerk could do is point to the file and state “see, it is marked as P.P.” (I guess that means Party Present). I let her know that that was when the case was initially called and not when the commissioner called it.
  5. When the commissioner comes from his office, I direct myself to him and state “the tenant was not here when you called it, right?” Nothing. His manner was just let’s go back and look at the case.
  6. What floors me now is that I am entitled to the Writ of Restitution, because the tenant has not paid December’s rent. Done deal, right? Wrong! The commissioner states he will not issue a Writ immediately (despite the Statutes, what is supposed to be the Law, stating the Writ shall be issued immediately. Crystal clear language, right? I guess the courts in Milwaukee County don’t follow the law, and why the city is a mess!) and that he will stay the writ until the end of the month, another ten days! I point out that he is allowing someone to use my property. The commissioner seems to not care. What message does that send to the tenant? Exactly. What he is doing is OK.

I guess I should have asked for a judge’s hearing, but I was informed that the judge is just going to stand behind his minions doing a terrible bidding.

This is exactly why I won’t buy another piece of real estate in Milwaukee, ever.

Would it do any good to call my state legislature representatives? Is there a way to begin to have the courts apply the statutes? Are they allowed to disregard the Legislature with impunity? And that is why I wonder what good is it sometimes to have the statutes changed, i.e. the recent changes to the Wis. Stats. relating to landlord/tenant law, when the courts don’t apply what is the law?

So frustrating, so very frustrating…

A reader
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Oh, thanks for taking the time to read the story.

preload preload preload