Dec 04

My father, William “Bill” Ballering passed away this morning.

Bill came into my life when I was ten when he married my mom and adopted my sister and me. He and mom only lasted a few years, but Bill and I remained close to the end.

Although I was not his responsibility, Bill taught me the values of work ethic, doing the right thing, ignoring the noise, and focusing on what had to be done. I am what I am today because of him.

When I bought my first home, a sad little house that needed a gut rehab, Bill was there every weekend helping remodel it. That is where I learned skills that became the foundation of my career.

Bill had an extreme work ethic. He was in his early 80s when I called him one day. He said he had some kid mowing his yard in the middle of the conversation, and he was angry at himself because he should be doing it. Last winter, at 85 years old, he shoveled three-foot deep of frozen snow for forty feet because the plow guy could not make it.

Bill was stoic long before stoicism became popular again. He was healthy as an ox until late September when he had a stroke. I spoke to him the day after he was admitted to the hospital. He said the stroke was nothing, only to hear from the nurse that he had lost the use of his right arm and could not walk. I asked him again, and he said, ‘Nah, don’t worry, it is really minor’ While being treated, they found cancer. A week after being at a rehab facility, he was rushed to the hospital with COVID. His O2 level was 70%. Halloween morning he told me he was dying. It was the first negative thing I recall him saying in the 55 years I’ve known him, He recovered from the COVID, but cancer quickly metastasized.

Thirty years ago, Bill found his soulmate in Emmy. He loved her immensely. When Emmy was no longer safe at home due to Alzheimer’s, Bill went to see her at the nursing home every day, some days more than once. In the beginning, he would often take her for a drive or out for ice cream. Later, when she no longer recognized him, he still went to see her every day. When Emmy passed, Bill visited her grave daily.

The grandkids and great-grandkids loved him. He looked so much like Santa Claus.

The world was blessed to have had him. Don’t feel sorry for me, I was the lucky one to have had him in my life.

This is my favorite picture.

Jul 23

A recent Wisconsin Realtor Association podcast featuring Tom Larson and Tim Ballering.

https://www.wra.org/CapitolInsights/Episode5/

We have all heard reports that say residential rental evictions surged due to the Wisconsin eviction moratorium expiration in May.

The real numbers show a 30% decline for the first six months of 2020 versus 2019. How can this be true, you ask?

Listen in as WRA chief lobbyist Tom Larson and residential rental expert Tim Ballering from the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) break down the actual numbers and provide valuable insights into the eviction issue in Wisconsin.

Mar 07

Note: While Affordable accepts Rent Assist, I personally am opposed to mandating its acceptance.  Proposals like this reenforces the falsehood  that people who need Rent Assistance and not receiving it due to landlords not accepting the program.  This would make one believe that hundreds of eligible families are suffering  because no one would accept their voucher.  The truth is the waiting list is due to the County not providing enough vouchers to meet the demand.

This is more of the anti landlord posturing used by politicians to shift the blame for government actions and inaction onto our industry and make us look like the cause.

Here’s a legislative alert from AASEW Attorney Heiner Giese:

Here’s a big alert:

Milw Co. Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic is proposing an ordinance to REQUIRE all landlords to accept Section 8 housing vouchers or any other kind of voucher for rental assistance. This would mean landlords would have to get a property registered under a section 8 program and submit their property for inspections. It would also require you to use one year leases — you could not rent month to month anymore because the Section 8 program mandates one year leases.

Further, it is so loosely drafted that a landlord could not evict a tenant who is behind on the rent if they get an Emergency Assistance check.

This may be coming up for a hearing before the County Economic Development Committee next Monday, March 12, starting at 9:00 AM.

We need people to appear and speak against this. Also, contact your County Supervisor..

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors does ordain as follows: 
 
Section 1. Chapter 107 of the Milwaukee County Code of General Ordinances is hereby amended as follows:
 
107.01. – Intent.
 
It is the intent of this chapter to render unlawful discrimination in housing and to enact this chapter pursuant to the authority granted to counties by s. 66.432(2) 66.1011, Wis. Stats. It is the declared policy of the county that all persons shall have an equal opportunity for housing regardless of sex, race, color, disability, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, marital status of a person maintaining a household, lawful source of income, receipt of rental or housing assistance, age, sexual orientation, as defined in s. 111.32(13m), Wis. Stats., status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, gender identity and gender expression, or status in a domestic partnership.
 
 
107.02. – Definitions.
 
(9) “Receipt of rental or housing assistance” means the receipt of any form of financial
contribution from a third party for the purposes of creating or keeping affordable housing for tenants, purchasers, or other potential housing recipients, including but not limited to, assistance provided pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, section 1437f (commonly known as the “Section 8” housing program), the HOME Partnership Program, the Community Development Block Grant program, or any other public or private rental assistance vouchers or programs.
 
 
Section 2.
The provisions of this Ordinance shall become effective upon passage and publication.

Atty Heiner Giese
1230  N. Prospect Ave.
Milwaukee, WI. 53202-3014
Tel. 414-276-7988 Fax: 414-276-8342

Jan 23

Busy good, but still busy.

May 15

Sewer, water and municipal service fees have become a major operating expense.  I’m sure these runaway fees have lead to the failure of many newer, under capitalized owners.

Last month the law changed on municipal utility charges, making it more practical to have tenants be responsible for these charges.  We owe a lot of thanks to the work done by Gary Goyke in making this law a reality, as well as the support of the members of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, the Apartment Associations of South Central WI and of course the members of the Apartment Association of Southeastern WI

In addition to the potential financial benefit to owners, there is a societal and environmental benefit as this will certainly result in conservation.  No more walking into a unit, only to see the tenant thawing dinner by running cold water over frozen meat for half an hour.  Remember when you paid for heat and would find windows open on sub freezing days or when you paid for hot water and found your basements being used as a laundromat for friends and family.

The most important aspects of the law effect the 2015 billings.  However there are some things we as owners need to do now to ramp up.

First, you cannot bill tenants directly for utilities that are not separately metered.  This means for multiple unit properties the water needs to be separated and an additional meter added.  In older Milwaukee duplexes this is not going to be a major job.  The two plumbing contractors I spoke to felt it would be a $600-1000 per duplex  to separate the water and install a second meter horn.  Remember that in this style building you only need to separate the cold water to the lower unit faucets and toilet as well as the feed to the lower water heater and possibly laundry facilities.

Older side by sides and four families will take more work, read $, as they typically have a single cold feed to the upper units.

Second, for the benefit of tenants, owner occupants and the city’s ability to collect their utility bills; we must urge the city to go to monthly billings

Attorney Tristan Pettit shared the attached doc from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities that should be the first step in the road map to making the change.

Dec 26

Our company buys a lot of products from Amazon – from office supplies to maintenance parts to bug spray.

We do this for no altruistic reason,  Amazon is less expensive and faster for many items. Amazon Prime rocks if you buy even a modest amount!

Amazon has a really cool program where they give 1/2% of your purchases to a charity of your choice. Our company chose Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Children’s does good work and have helped my granddaughter as well as many thousands of other kids.

If you are an Amazon user, I would encourage you to sign up and let your purchases help an organization you believe in. If you are lost for a worthy charity – Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is a great choice.

More info at:

http://smile.amazon.com/

Nov 01

My wife, Carmen Ballering, is preparing for Miami Art Basel (Dec 5-8) If you’ve been to my office you’ve seen her house paintings in acrylic. Crooked Houses is done in uninflated balloons and acrylic over canvas.

You can see a lot of her work including couture fashion from balloons at GotLatex.com

crooked_houses

Crooked Houses by Carmen Ballering

Oct 22

A reader of the ApartmentAssoc Yahoo Group questions how the new landlord tenant bill affects leases that attempt to deal with criminal activity.  The new law is:

704.44 (9) Allows the landlord to terminate the tenancy of a tenant based solely on the commission of a crime in or on the rental property if the tenant, or someone who lawfully resides with the tenant, is the victim, as defined in s. 950.02 (4), of that crime.

704.44 (9) is a prohibited lease provision. Therefore a lease is void if it allows you to evict the tenant solely because of a crime that the tenant or an authorized co occupant were the victim of.   The provision was meant to be a protection for domestic violence victims.

As I read this an example would be if the tenant’s door is broken.

  • If the damage was caused by the tenant and you use your lease to evict them for the damage all is good.
  • If the damage occurred during a burglary and you attempt to evict them based on a lease provision, you would fail and possibly be in trouble. It would be wrong even without this law to evict a victim of a crime.  ‘Oh, you were robbed of your tv and radio – well now you are losing your home too because having your door broken during a robbery is a lease violation’. – bad landlord.
  • If the door was broken by the ex boyfriend that they had a restraining order against, you would most certainly be in trouble.  But that is the current law under 106.50 (5m) (dm).
  • On the other hand if the door was broken during a robbery committed by a rival drug dealer and the police report indicated that, then a lease provision such as a crime free addendum would be fine.

I agree it is not the perfect language. However this is far better than the prior prohibition against a lease that permitted you to evict the tenant for a crime they could not have reasonably prevented.

Under the new wording you can evict a tenant if they fail to exercise reasonable control of the property.   An example is if the tenant’s grandson who does not live at the property comes over and sells drugs out of grandma’s unit.  Under the current law you would have a hard time crafting a lease that would be legal and permit you to evict as a means of stopping the drug traffic because it is very likely that granny could not reasonably prevent the activity. The only answer would be wait until the Police send an angry letter about the nuisance activity.  Under the new law your lease will be able to address this because granny is not a victim.

His second question is:

What happens if a tenant gets a Disorderly Conduct ticket, or a ticket for possession of marijuana, or a ticket for… Was there a commission of a crime?

You do not have to differentiate between citations and crimes in the above.  The tenant was not a victim, they were the perpetrator of the act and therefore a lease provision that permits eviction would be valid under both the old and new law. Plus the law acknowledges that criminals are not victims of their own crimes

§950.02 (4) (b) “Victim” does not include the person charged with or alleged to have committed the crime.

However if the tenant was the victim of what could be considered a criminal act, I think you must treat the tenant as a victim regardless if the perp was given a citation or a state charge.  So if in the prior door broken by a burglar example you would be wrong in evicting a tenant even if the guy who did it only received a muni citation.

There will be more on this as a discussion of how to make the Crime Free Lease or addendum work within this new law.

Oct 21

With the passage of SB179 and the previous passage of ACT 143 a lot has changed with Wisconsin landlord tenant law.

I am trying to assemble a working group of landlord/tenant attorneys and managers with a lot of experience to create a great Wisconsin lease that incorporates the changes in the new law as well as those from ACT 143.

First if you are one of the above group and want to be a participant, let me know.

However even if you are not a landlord tenant attorney or seasoned property manager, I would like to hear of instances that you found your lease defective or deficient.

Jul 31

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Issues Formal Opinion Concerning Residential Lease Provisions Requiring Departing Tenants to Pay for Carpet Cleaning

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today issued an opinion to Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel in which Van Hollen concluded that Wisconsin law does not prohibit residential lease provisions that require a departing tenant to pay for routine carpet cleaning. Van Hollen determined that such a provision is not in conflict with a landlord’s statutory duty to maintain the premises “in a reasonable state of repair” under Wis. Stat. 704.07(2). Because routine carpet cleaning is not a statutorily-imposed obligation of a landlord, assigning this responsibility to a tenant through a contractual provision does not render a rental agreement void.

The full opinion letter is here:

www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/2013-news/oag-04-13.pdf

NOTE: This opinion does NOT permit the deduction of the carpet cleaning from a security deposit.

So then what  does this do for owners?

Very little to collect extra money from tenants.  However it forecloses tenants arguments that we had a common law duty to clean between tenants, i.e. cleaning is not part of a reasonable state of repairs.

I can also see this being used when DNS issues orders for housekeeping on the owner rather than the tenant.

It also clarifies you can have a lease that requires a tenant to clean when they move. You just have to bill them outside of the deposit.

Bottom line:  Personally I  never felt an across the board fee for carpet cleaning was anything more than a fee for moving out, which is probably a bad business practice even if it were legal.  Cost should be imposed on those tenants that do not leave the place reasonable well, while those that take care of the place should be treated in a manner they would rent from you again or tell their friends to do so.

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