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. ūüėČ

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

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.

http://www.landlordbootcamp2017.com

* Most “tenant advocates‚ÄĚ 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‚Ķ but this is another story for another day.

Jan 19

The follow-up question:

Thanks Tim,
Can we charge a “general ” application fee to the prospective tenant to cover our office costs to process an application and keep the fee? Other people are doing it. How?
No, the law is clear on this.  If you do not accept the tenant, then all the money collected except for the actual amount you paid for a national bureau credit report, must be refunded.
 
If people are charging a non-refundable application fee in excess of what they paid for a credit report or more than $20, they are in violation of ATCP 134.05 (2)  Some owners try to be clever by calling the earnest money by some other name.  That fails.(See the legal definition of Earnest Money below)
 

However, if the prospective tenant fails to pay the balance and move in, you may retain the earnest money to cover and costs and lost rents you incurred due to their failure to take possession. In fact the prospective tenant could owe a lot more than the earnest deposit. See ATCP 134.05(3)(b) below.

 
Earnest Money is legally defined as:
 
ATCP 134.02¬†(3)‚Äā”Earnest money deposit” means the total of any payments or deposits, however denominated or described, given by a prospective tenant to a landlord in return for the option of entering into a rental agreement in the future, or for having a rental agreement considered by a landlord. “Earnest money deposit” does not include a fee which a landlord charges for a credit check in compliance with¬†s.¬†ATCP 134.05 (3).
The requirements to refund the earnest deposit if the tenant withdraws the app or the landlord rejects the app either explicitly or by nonaction:
 
ATCP 134.05 (2) Refunding or crediting an earnest money deposit.
(a) A landlord who receives an earnest money deposit from a rental applicant shall send the full deposit to the applicant by first-class mail, or shall deliver the full deposit to the applicant, by the end of the next business day after any of the following occurs:
1. The landlord rejects the rental application or refuses to enter into a rental agreement with the applicant.
2. The applicant withdraws the rental application before the landlord accepts that application.
3.¬†The landlord fails to approve the rental application by the end of the third business day after the landlord accepts the applicant’s earnest money deposit, or by a later date to which the tenant agrees in writing. The later date may not be more than 21 calendar days after the landlord accepts the earnest money deposit.
 

Law permitting witholding of Earnet Money for failure to take possession:

 

ATCP 134.05 (3)‚ÄāWithholding an earnest money deposit.

(a) A landlord may withhold from a properly accepted earnest money deposit if the prospective tenant fails to enter into a rental agreement after being approved for tenancy, unless the landlord has significantly altered the rental terms previously disclosed to the tenant.

(b) A landlord may withhold from an earnest money deposit, under par. (a), an amount sufficient to compensate the landlord for actual costs and damages incurred because of the prospective tenant’s failure to enter into a rental agreement. The landlord may not withhold for lost rents unless the landlord has made a reasonable effort to mitigate those losses, as provided under s. 704.29, Stats.

 
Feb 27

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

  • Ôā∑ 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.

Feb 02

Over on the ApartmentAssoc Yahoo Group an owner asks the following about guests:

After 13 years of landlording, I have a new challenge: tenants who have “guests” stay 30-45 days at a time, and one guest who stays 5 days each month. I need to establish a Guest Policy. ¬†I am surprised to learn that the California Realtors Rental Agreement does not have a guest policy. ¬†So I am trying to determine what is reasonable. ¬†An attorney told me that the courts typically recognize 14 days per year, per guest, as reasonable. The tenants don’t want any restrictions RE: guests, yet they asked me if I would replace the carpets. They don’t seem to understand that the additional wear and tear, water, trash, septic system use, and the liability of additional people is why Landlords put restrictions on guests. ¬†I would appreciate any helpful feedback from other landlords. ¬†

More important than the things listed by you, which of course are also important, is the fact that you screened your tenants to assure as much as possible a level of behavior and respect for both the property and other people.  

The guest could be just as well behaved as the people you rented to, or they could be ax murdering, drug dealing, sexual offenders who need a place to stay because they burned their last apartment down to spite their last landlord because he kicked them out for not paying six months rent.  You just do not know without having the ability to screen them. If they are a true guest staying for a week or less, then it probably will not be a problem.  But if they are there for months Рthen it is a problem.

Also some jurisdictions treat the guests as tenants, which means that if the tenant leaves because the guest is out of control the landlord must evict this person they never rented to and never had any information on. 

Additionally if it is a nicer building in a tourist area you have to decide what your policy is on things like AirBNB.  I think most municipalities are starting to have problems with these occupancies, viewing them as an unlicensed and therefor untaxed hotel. 

Here is an article that combines both fears – guest having tenant rights and AirBNB.

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 ‚Äúreasonable modifications‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúreasonable accommodations‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äď 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  Р$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.

Thanks

ÔĽŅ
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