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

7 Responses to “What do you need to succeed as a Landlord?”

  1. GT says:

    Posted anonymously by GT:

    The changes in requirements and the number of “public servants” that now demand access to our buildings and our records has become completely onerous.

    In the UWM area we now have the following building inspections and required paperwork::
    Annual inspections we conduct afor which we must provide detailed records to the city:
    -Battery Smoke detectors
    -Battery CO detectors
    -Fire Extinguishers (now must be done by outside firm)
    Required Annual inspections by bonded, licensed firms
    -Fire Extinguishers (see if the needle is in the green….this requires a license?)
    -Pull station/alarm system testing
    -Elevator inspection/weight tests
    Required special testing by bonded, licensed firms at greater than one year intervals:
    – Fire Extinguisher pressure test
    – Smoke detector sensitivity testing
    – Elevator dynamic load testing
    Local Government Inspections
    -Boiler inspections for state licensing
    -Sprinkler inspections – city of Milwaukee
    -Elevator inspections – city of Milwaukee
    -Fire Inspections – city of Milwaukee
    -Cross connection survey – city of MIlwaukee
    -UWM AREA INSPECTIONS – city of Milwaukee (@$85 each unit)
    – Random inspections by the city of Milwaukee with orders written for :
    -general observations
    -demand of entry to see how many residents are in a unit (don’t know how they can tell – we can’t)
    and most recently:
    HUD – review of our records regarding issuing of lead warnings to tenants.

    Add to this the wasted time for calls attempting entrapment regarding housing discrimination and rental of a unit to more than three unrelated people.

    Is all of this really necessary? There is a complaint and investigation process in place. A single inspection could easily take the place of a number of the multiple demands upon us and the required access to our tenants. Things like the fire extinguisher review simply do not require the expense of an outside firm.

    I am also deeply concerned about the Wisconsin lead abatement policy. With the Wisconsin requirement being 8 times more stringent than the federal policy and with no accepted test for those levels of lead, remodeling is now significantly more expensive than it had been. These rules apply to empty units and units without children, 32 years after lead paint was outlawed and at a time when lead problems are drastically falling.

    The UWM area “not more than three unrelated people in a unit” is an unfair and unconstitutional requirement. We have large 4 bedroom units that we can not rent or must rent at drastically reduced prices to fill. It is legal to put a family of 8 (or more with kids) in a unit like that, but we can not rent to 4 college students. We often suspect that these units end up with illegal tenants, but have no effective way of proving it. Property tax is based upon a 4 bedroom unit, but practical rental is now only as a 3 bedroom unit . This does not make for good economics. Further, if the tenant “cheats”, the landlord is held accountable.

    Safety is important, but the way our “public servants” are going about it is making the economics of rental at best most difficult. Changes to these items would benefit all landlords with little or no reduction in “safety”.


    • Paul says:

      Paul Writes:
      so why isn’t this group lobbying in Washington DC on behalf of business in general? Did you see the stats on CBS news last night? It said public workers are now getting triple cost of living increases which far surpass those received via private employment. And we pay for these multiple public employees who sit around and sit on their hands or have 2nd jobs!!!

      The group should get a tape of the CBS news stats and fly the information on a flag at every Chamber of Commerce office.

      • Orville Seymer says:

        I think we need to have people who care enough and are willing to take the time to show up at public hearings to express their dis-pleasure with the way the government is treating landlords.

        About a month ago I posted on this page the fact that the City of Milwaukee wanted to increase water rates in the city by as much as 30% and in some case they wanted to increase water rates in the suburbs by 60%. There were many comments by people who were outraged.

        I posted the information about the water rate increase twice in recent days and today the hearing was held at the Zeidler bldg. downtown. As usual, I was the only landlord in attendance.

        It is simply not enough to post a comment on this page that water rates are too high, I doubt that elected officials or bureaucrats care less about what the people on the page think. At some point, there has to be some action taken and that action begins with picking up the phone and making a call. But it does not end there, in fact that is just the beginning. Someone (besides me) has to start attending these public hearings.

        If someone was trying to steal thousands of dollars from you, you would do everything in your power to prevent them from stealing from you, yet the City of Milwaukee is committing legalized theft with these water rates but no one shows up. Where were all the people who were outraged just a few weeks ago?

        If you cannot take the time to stand up for yourselves, no one else will stand up for you.

        Orville Seymer

        • Brian says:

          Orv is ABSOLUTELY right!

          So where was I? Not only was I working, but I don’t have property in Milwaukee (not that I couldn’t have been there anyway). I have however been and will continue to go to these types of things when I can, but YOUR HELP IS NEEDED TOO!

          Cry, whine, and complain here all you want, IT WILL DO YOU NO GOOD.

          If you want to try to have something done, ACT, if not just sit there sit there, complain, and be taken advantage of.


        • Matt says:

          I’ll throw this out there as I think I have in the past with little to no responses. The UWM area policies are troubling on many counts. How is it legal to require inspections and their related fees for only a few select zip codes? This is at a time when we are seeing a ton of foreclosures in the UWM area. With property taxes of $6,000 on a $200,000 duplex it doesn’t take much to break it.

          I have said it in the past and I feel even stronger today that there has to be some back alley deals going down for a tax exempt entinty (UWM) to be allowed to overbuild and continue to build while they have directly resulted in tax paying properties losing value and being foreclosed on? I mean the city is losing tax revenue at a fast speed and there isn’t any noise yet any taxpaying property owner even rolls their eyes and they are in for an onslought of inspections and fees, which of course are just a coincedence.

          I considered selling over the last year but because of all the foreclosures, which is unprecedented in the UWM area, I’d be selling at less than 1999 property values even though they are cash positive properties. I think there is something really bad going on between UWM and City Hall because UWM knows it’s driving down property values and City Hall is making sure they can with no obstacles.

          Maybe the Wauwatosa county land deal really greased Milwaukee’s wheels to play UWM’s game. I give Orville a lot of credit because many of us on this list know if we show up we’d probably be the only one like he has been. We also know there is a high probability that we will coincedentally end up with back to back inspections, violations, and who knows what else. Now the city has the written power to require a vacancy if they feel a property is not up to par? Based on their interpretation of a loosely worded policy? This is something I can’t believe has gone this far.

          I personally just hope to last long enough to get my hard earned equity of 10 years out when/if the market turns. With the market so bad already UWM shouldn’t be able to run wild buidling as much as possible, but they are. Isn’t it ironic that the more they drive down property values by the use of these tactics they are than able to buy property cheaper to build more dorms. Someone recently tagged Milwaukee the new Detroit and I think it’s more truth than comedy at this point.

          I can only hope that after Barret loses his bid for Governor we get a new Mayor who’s interested in cleaining things up starting in City Hall.

          I say I give Orville credit because as I’m working my butt of with integrity and morals as a landlord trying to last and I don’t need the heat(violations, fees, inspections, complaints, etc) from being the only one at a meeting. Maybe my last post didn’t get that many people to respond because maybe there aren’t many UWM landlords here but we are a large organization who need to stop thinking about our specific markets and look at City and State issues and hit them hard like the teachers would. We are an easy organization to walk over.

          Sorry to say that because I know we do have hard working individuals that do a lot on our behalf but we are silent as a group so in reality no real threat to any politician. We, as a group, are the only ones who can right this ship. Let’s face it the media only cares about us when they find one to smear because renters love sensationalized stories about any landlord.

        • Paul says:

          It is long overdue in time for the landlord organization as a group to hire a paid lawyer/lobbyist who stays in the face of the public officialdom.

          The problem for the self-employed landlord is that we don’t get our paycheck unless we stay working. The public officials get their salary and pension increases even if they are running around doing nothing….or sitting for a half day at hearings which can be canceled at officials’ whims at the last minute.

          The landlord organization should hook up with the national chamber of commerce…which offer discounted health benefits to members…and then be sure the national chamber is makingthelocal chamber take an interest in landlord issues. Use the chamber’s attorney and expertise.

  2. Kathy says:

    Tenant deliberate damage to property being treated by police as a civil matter (kind of like domestic violence is sometimes treated by the ignorant.)
    I would like to see it treated as vandalism or criminal damage to property just like it should be if they damaged the police department building or a jail cell.

    I would also like to see the courts actually follow the law when assessing damages and back rent instead of feeling sorry for deadbeat tenants (when they don’t make it stick, the tenant goes on record to repeat the offenses over and over because they know the courts will let them off easy.)

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