Sep 08

A five day notice for payment is a “pay or quit” or right to cure. If the tenant presents the full amount within the five day period the notice is void.  Remember if you serve via certified mail, you must add two days.

The law changed with 2013 ACT 76, effective in March 2014.

799.40 (1m) Acceptance of rent or other payment. If a landlord commences an action under this section against a tenant whose tenancy has been terminated for failure to pay rent or for any other reason, the action under this section may not be dismissed solely because the landlord accepts past due rent or any other payment from the tenant after the termination of the tenant’s tenancy serving notice of default or after commencing the action.

If the tenant pays a portion but not all the rent due, the notice is probably valid.  The tricky part here is if you the tenant felt that you agreed to waive the notice if they made the partial payment.  This turns into ‘he said, she said’  To avoid that issue we have the following at the bottom of our notice:

“Non Waiver: If you make a  payment  of less than the $xxx.xx required by this notice, you will still be in default and SUBJECT TO EVICTION  unless the Owner agrees in writing to cancel this notice.”

Our system also prints the following on receipts of tenants with active five days:

“Non-waiver: This partial payment will be applied to past due rent owed and that by accepting same owner is not waiving his right  to proceed with an eviction based on the 5-Day notice dated xx/xx/xxxx unless tenant enters into a written payment agreement for the balance and owner agrees in writing to vacate the notice.”

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  Don’t be a jerk about it.  If the tenant owes, let’s say $900, and pays, let’s say $820, with a promise to pay the balance with next month’s rent and you quietly accept the money and then file the eviction that would meet my definition and probably the Court Commissioner’s definition of being a jerk.  Court Commissioners can find some pretty creative ways around jerks. 😉  However in the same scenario the tenant gives you $200 and promises to be back on Friday to pay the balance on Friday and fails to, then by all means evict.

Finally the reader asked about payment in full of rent and late fees.   The law does not currently permit late fees on five day notices for month to month tenants and inclusion of those on a five day will cause the eviction to fail in some counties.  The Apartment Association is working to change this law in the current session.

Sep 04

There is a discussion over on theApartment Association email discussion group about income criteria for unmarried co occupants vs. married occupants.

A tenant is a tenant, regardless if they are married, cohabitation, straight, gay, white, black or green.

If you are using a reasonable income criteria for screening, that is good as long as you don’t factor in the other things such as marital status.  

Your protection if occupant A departs on month two of a year lease is to let occupant A know you are not releasing them from the obligation they have to you under the rental agreement. Simply moving out does not relieve the vacating tenant from their obligations under the rental agreement. 

As soon as you start analyzing if applicant A has enough income without applicant B for unmarried tenants, but consider the income of both undividedly  for married tenants you are running afoul of Fair Housing, at least in Wisconsin.

While marital status is not a protected class under Federal Fair Housing, it is a protected class under Wisconsin’s Open Housing Law and in a number of other jurisdictions.

Plain English version:


106.50 Open housing.

(1)  Intent. It is the intent of this section to render unlawful discrimination in housing. It is the declared policy of this state that all persons shall have an equal opportunity for housing regardless of sex, race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin, marital status, family status, status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, lawful source of income, age, or ancestry and it is the duty of the political subdivisions to assist in the orderly prevention or removal of all discrimination in housing through the powers granted under ss. 66.0125 and66.1011. The legislature hereby extends the state law governing equal housing opportunities to cover single-family residences that are owner-occupied. The legislature finds that the sale and rental of single-family residences constitute a significant portion of the housing business in this state and should be regulated. This section shall be considered an exercise of the police powers of the state for the protection of the welfare, health, peace, dignity, and human rights of the people of this state.

Aug 30

Years ago I had a secret weapon … Jott an iPhone app that allowed you to speak a note and have a fairly well typed email. Unfortunately Jott was shut down a couple of years ago.

A year ago I stumbled on an excellent replacement, DO note. This app is available for both iPhones and Android.  It is free as well.

While you are out in the field you can quickly take a note of something you will likely have forgotten about by the time you get to a proper place to jot down your notes.


Aug 23

This past week there has been a lot of talk about bedbugs on the Apartment Association online discussion group.

Bedbugs made a resurgence after DDT was banned due to its harmful effects on the environment and humans.

Diatomaceous Earth works well and is non toxic to mammals and in fact is feed to dogs, cats and even humans in some parts of the world to rid internal parasites like tapeworms.  Therefore you don’t have to worry about toxicity to tenants.

Downsides of Diatomaceous Earth:

  • It is a bit messy – white powder in the application area.  This can be lessened by using a cattle duster or plant duster.
  • It is not a fast as chemical based or heat solutions.  The trick is to do a knock down with a pyrethrin based chemical first.  Pyrethrins are semi organic, derived from chrysanthemum plants.  They are alleged to be people and pet safe, have been in use for many decades and have little residual.  The latter is great from a toxicity concern, but not so great at keeping bugs at bay.
  • It is odorless.  Why is that a downside?  People tend to believe stinky products are more effective products.

If you are going to go the pure chemical route JT Eaton products work well and are consumer labeled.  Apply the red one and then a week later the blue.  Cyonara 9.7 is also currently effective.

[Update] Brian Peters sent me a message that reminded me that DNS has a good bedbug brochure that you can provide your tenants.

Do It Yourself Pest Control has a really good overview of how to effectively treat for bedbugs.  They often, but not always, have the best prices if you are buying in quantity.

Here is a visual overview of how to treat for bedbugs

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Aug 15

Milwaukee’s wave of violent crime has not subsided.

Yesterday (8-14-15) a unit prep crew for one of the other larger Southside owners were robbed at gun point while unloading their van at 8:30 AM.  The crime happened on 24th and Maple.

One work suffered serious injuries from being struck with an iron bar across the face. The guy has a broken lower jaw, upper jaw, nose and eye socket.

What did the thieves get from this violent attack?  $40.  They did not even steal any tools.  What was the most the criminals could have expected to get robbing a couple of apartment painters art work?  Maybe… $40.  WTF.  Who robs paint crews at 8:30 in the morning?

Two guys in a grey Hyundai were driving slowly down the street, as though they were looking for an address.  They pulled in and parked a couple of car lengths ahead of the worker’s van.  Two workers were unloading the stuff they needed to finish the prep.

One of the bad guys calmly walked up to a worker and asked him for a light for his cigarette.  The worker gets out his lighter, looks up and sees the gun.  Fixated on the gun, as you would be, he doesn’t see the other guy until he was struck in the face with the iron bar. Had the worker turned his head he could have been hit across the back of the neck.

The worker never had a chance to simply hand over his wallet. These criminals were willing to possibly kill someone for a couple of dollars.

How do you even protect yourself in a situation like this?   Even if the worker had a carry permit, there would have been no time to react between this being a stranger looking for a light and a violent attack.

Later that same day two people were shot in a robbery on 34th and Lincoln. A few days earlier and a few blocks east, a ten year old was shot in his own home as bad guys decided to shoot out in the street outside.  Things are seriously headed in the wrong direction.

I used to walk the neighborhood that are properties are located in every chance I got.  Today walking what use to be the fairly safe Southside, would be insane. We are close to eclipsing Detroit as the most depressed city in America.

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