Mar 31

The following is a pretty good overview of the new law from Margit Kelley, Staff Attorney at the WISCONSIN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL   The Legislative Council is a nonpartisan research agency of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Read their full analysis

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Mar 29

A reader of the ApartmentAssoc Yahoo Group asks:

Am I correct when I say a 2 story 4 unit building w/ a basement would need 7 co detectors installed.  Can they be combo smoke/co detectors or do we need separate detectors for each function?  Any help would be appreciated…..Thanks

My reply cleaned up a bit from the original is below As of April 1st, 2010 Wisconsin began requiring CO detectors in all multifamily buildings. As of February 1st, 2011 the requirement expanded to all residential buildings including owner occupied single families.  There are a few exceptions such as units that have electric heat AND do not have attached garages AND do not have gas stoves; as well as those with sealed combustion furnaces and water heaters that are inspected regularly.But most WI residential buildings now must have carbon monoxide detectors.

Where to install and how many carbon monoxide detectors are required depends on a number of factors. Continue reading »

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Feb 05

Accounting Today has a good article on the Senate bill to amend the 1099 filing requirements

It looks like if this is signed into law we won’t have to send 1099s to the Home Depot.

However this does not appear to repeal the new 1099 requirements under the Small Business Jobs Act for landlords

As you recall the Small Business Jobs Act expanded the1099 reporting to all landlords when they pay more than $600 to non-corporate service providers such as your local handyman.

Jan 29

With very few exceptions, all single family and duplexes in Wisconsin will be required to have carbon monoxide detectors installed as of February 1st 2011. You can read about the multi unit building version of the CO detector law here

The important part of the law for most of us is:

“101.647(3)(a) The owner of a dwelling shall install a functional carbon monoxide detector in the basement of the dwelling and on each floor level except the attic, garage, or storage area of each dwelling unit. A carbon monoxide detector wired to the dwelling’s electrical wiring system shall have a backup battery power supply. Except as provided under par. (b), the occupant of the dwelling unit shall maintain any carbon monoxide detector in that unit. This paragraph does not apply to the owner of a dwelling that has no attached garage, no fireplace, and no fuel-burning appliance.”

“(b) If any occupant who is not the owner of a dwelling, or any person authorized by state law or by city, village, town, or county ordinance or resolution to exercise powers or duties involving inspection of real or personal property, gives written notice to the owner that the carbon monoxide detector is not functional, the owner shall provide, within 5 days after receipt of that notice, any maintenance necessary to make that carbon monoxide detector functional.”

While the law does not contain a penalty for not complying, failing to have a working CO detector may result in additional liability should a problem occur at your property.. The law was passed and signed into law last year.

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Jan 29

In 2010 two laws revised the 1099 requirements  effective for payments made after 1/1/11 ( 2012 tax year)

The 2010 Small Business Act extends the 1099 requirement to all rental property owners. Prior to 1/1/2011 small rental property owners were exempted from the aw.  It appears very unlikely that this provision will be reverted.

The 2010 National Health Care Reform Act P.L. 111-148 (a.k.a. Obamacare) extended the 1099 requirement to all purchases of GOODS (previously the requirement applied only to services.) This bill also eliminates the exemption for if the party you paid was a corporation. An attempt to reverse this portion of the Health Care Bill in December failed, but now that evenPresident Obama is considering fixing parts of it, so it may change.

Do you use small Contractors in your business or to perform repairs?

If so the 1099s you file may cause the IRS and state taxing authorities to reclassify those “contractors” as “statutory employees.”  This can be hugely expensive with fines up to Continue reading »

Dec 18

Efforts to repeal the 1099 reporting provision in the Obama Health Care Bill fails. Bad news in many respects for small property owners and businesses.

Owners who are unaware of the new 1099 provision will either get caught up in the whole ‘your contractor is a statutory employee’ argument or lose legitimate deductions for work performed.  If you are not up to speed on the problems you can face by improperly classifying what the government considers an employees that you are treating as a contractor read this post

I am being told that you may even have to file a 1099 on your local government for services like sewer, water and trash collection or lose those deductions.

This will be a HUGE paperwork nightmare even for those of us that only use regular employees for our maintenance. I can hear hectares of tress falling in the background to make the paper that will be needed even as I write.  But at least this will solve unemployment as it will take a heck of a lot of people to process the billions of 1099s this will generate. And jobs that are simply shuffling papers add nothing to the productivity of our nation, putting us another step behind other countries as we vie for market shares in a down economy.

From the National Apartment Association

1099 Repeal Effort Fails

Efforts to include a repeal of onerous new 1099 reporting requirements enacted in the health care reform law (P.L. 111-148) were unsuccessful.

Starting in 2012, businesses will be required to file a 1099 report to every business from which it purchases more than $600 in goods and services. (Prior law restricted the reporting requirement to the purchase of $600 or more in services only.)  See my note below* –Tim

Despite bipartisan agreement that the provision should be repealed, there is no agreement over how it should be paid for.  As a result, repeal provisions were not included in the tax bill and is not expected to pass before the lame-duck session adjourns.  Lawmakers are expected to take up the issue early in the 112th Congress, and NAA/NMHC will continue to aggressively advocate for repeal.

*More accurately the old law also excluded services performed by corporations. The new law includes all services and purchases over $600 per year per vendor.  This greatly increases the number of 1099s required.  Also most smaller property owners were exempt under the old law,  Not so now.  If you own a single home that you rent you are subject to this.

Oct 01

We use employees almost exclusively, for a number of reasons.

Worker Comp insurance is important as your homeowner’s policy does not cover people working on your property.

More importantly the tax implications if a contractor is reclassified as an employee.

Why is the tax issue more important than the workers comp? You can and should have a worker comp policy even if you feel most of your worker bees are contractors.  So go out, get it and sleep well.

Now onto the consequences of a contractor being reclassified as an employee for tax purposes.  A number of years ago we had a lady who cleaned carpet for us.  She had her own machine.  She used her own chemicals.  She charged a fixed rate based on the number of rooms.  She had a number of other clients at the time we started using her. We found her through an ad she ran in the Shopper.  And she set her own schedule.

Well she also had a full time job and was laid off after she began doing our carpets.  She did not earn enough at the full time job to get the top unemployment benefit so she decides to include the earners from carpet cleaning to up the benefit.  The state ruled that she was an employee based on the following: She never filed taxes for the carpet cleaning income.  She did not have a FEIN.  At the time she was laid off we were her only remaining client.  And ONE time we told her a job absolutely positively had to be done on a certain date.  Well had I hired Adelman to clean the carpets I would have told them the same thing on that job.

Over a six month time period we paid her a bit over $400 for doing a dozen carpets.  The penalties and taxes we had to pay due to the reclassification were a bit over…$400.

You would have thought the government would have shown us some consideration as we had fifty some payroll  employees that year, so clearly we were not trying to skirt the law. But they use a 21 step test.  Fail an important one, or a few lesser ones and the person doing the work is an employee.

But $400 was a cheap lesson I guess. Earlier this year I spoke to an AASEW member and part time landlord who is fighting $20,000 in penalties.  Just last week I spoke to yet another part time landlord who is facing $60,000 in penalties due to reclassification of his “contractors” to employees. If you get this wrong and don’t file the proper employment tax forms the government can look back for something like six years.

And calling your workers contractors is became much more risky with President Obama’s signing of a new 1099 provision into law this week.

Today, unless I can find you in the Yellow Pages and you want to work for us it will be as an employee.

Aug 09

Fellow landlords

What services, tools, resource, supplies, innovations, changes in laws, grants, education, support from fellow owners etc. do you find lacking, unavailable, too expensive, too difficult to obtain, change etc.?

You get the idea…what do you see as the three, four or twenty things that would make your business more successful? Skies the limit. If it has to do with landlording or real estate investing throw it on the list.

Don’t worry if you think it is “doable” or not, Wild Ideas welcome and encouraged. But also don’t put off posting the more pedestrian needs and wants either.

You can leave comments, here or via private email to me at Tim [at] (makes sending the truly wild and innovative stuff easier for shy folks like me.)  I’ll compile the list for all to see.

Some will have readily available solutions that will be posted and shared, I’m sure.  Others are things our industry should be working on finding, changing, designing etc.

Some rather thought provocative comments below. Many of these were sent via email or posted on one of the list serves and reposted here as a central collection place. Please throw yours into the mix — Thanks Tim

Jun 26

A valid question asked in response to the AASEW’s EPA comments:

Thanks for these comments. You devote a lot of energy to criticizing the rule. Given the health problems caused by lead-based paint, what kind of rule should the EPA write? Let me know, and thanks.

My reply (edited to remove at least a few of my many typos):

The very short version

Everyone who works on older housing should receive lead safe training.  Such training could be accomplished in four hours and should be provided at no or low cost to anyone desiring it.

Our association provided this type of training to our members until our state health department required that only lead training course certified by them could be provided in WI.

A more detail explanation with support documents:

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