Oct 23

I’ve spent most of the past 22 years as a director of the Apartment Association of Southeastern WI, yet I feel this is a question that must be asked often so that the Association continues to add value.


In a group like ours every member has a say in the direction it takes.  I became active in the association through John Chitko’s prodding me to do so by saying:

‘This is an all volunteer group. Join, put your ideas out there. If they have merit people will support them, if not you’ll learn something’

Today I urge you to take John’s challenge.

Do I think we are currently doing all that we could or should, No, but I’ve seldom thought that about anything I am involved in.  To do so would be settling.

From my perspective an association of rental property owners and real estate investors should focus on the following three activities (in my order of importance):

  • Provide strong advocacy for the industry
  • Educate membership on the things they need to succeed
  • Provide social / networking opportunities

Advocacy includes addressing legislative, political and the public perception of our industry in a manner that makes it easier for legitimate owners and investors to succeed.

Education is pretty self explanatory, but should include how to run properties as well as how to make money in real estate in a legitimate and honorable manner.

Social and Networking includes our general meetings, trade show, Brewers tailgate party, and the holiday party.

I grade us today as B in education, C on social/networking and an Incomplete on legislative and political advocacy.  Ten years ago I would have given us an A- in advocacy, a B- in education and a C in social /networking opportunities.

Our educational offerings like Attorney Tristan Pettit’s Landlord Bootcamp are well received and add a lot of value for those members who attend.  I see us lacking the “how to make money at this business” aspect and feel that we should add more of this, while avoiding the flim-flam hucksters that some present as education.

Our social / networking offerings like the trade show, Brewers game and holiday party are well attended and these too offer  real value.  I feel that our general meetings could be more engaging.

We really got away from a lot of the advocacy that we did in the past.  We need to return to that as this is our reason for being.  Today we hear from many members that they are frustrated with all the Milwaukee County Eviction Court changes that have allowed nonpaying and disruptive tenants to remain in possession longer than they should.  We also continue to hear from owners of mistreatment at the hands of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services (building inspection)

Our November Apartment Association meeting with be the first of at least two on challenges we face in eviction court and how to change them.

Board member Dave Ohrmundt has graciously volunteered to head up a renewed legislative committee.  Another member is considering volunteering to spearhead a statewide legislative effort if he can get others interested.  These efforts will fail if they are just one person.  If you care about what the environment that we work under, then you should become involved.  And involved does not necessarily mean fully committed, although that would be nice.  Little things done by many people have a greater effect than large things done by a single individual.   Attend a hearing at the statehouse, or help write a legislative alert, send us your thoughts on a particular rule or law, or read the pending legislative agendas.  It all helps.

So I want to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Either post them as comments to this piece or email me

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