Further changes to rental laws proposedIn December, the governor signed a law preventing Madison and other municipalities from enacting local rental ordinances tougher than state law.
By: By Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
In December, the governor signed a law preventing Madison and other municipalities from enacting local rental ordinances tougher than state law. Landlords can now use court records, income or occupation when considering tenants. Now another state law is in the works -and once again, landlords generally like it; tenant groups don't.
It used to be, the number one complaint tenants had about renting, was not getting their security deposit back. Bob Anderson from Legal Action Wisconsin says.
"Today, it still is two or three, even with the enforcement mechanism it's the biggest problem people have,” he said.
Anderson helped draft consumer protection rules that allow for double damages and attorney's fees to tenants whose landlords wrongfully keep security deposits. A bill under consideration would effectively take away this protection, says attorney Heidi Wegleitner, because many renters can't afford a lawyer.
"There will be no more attorneys taking those cases,” she said. “I spoke to one yesterday and he said, 'no one's ever going to take a landlord-tenant case again if you do this.' "
The proposed law also lets landlords keep items left behind after a lease is up. Dane County landlord Adam Fry says it’s usually junk.
"The removal costs, the storage costs, the cost of contacting the residents all result in higher rents both for the responsible and irresponsible tenants,” he said.
The bill's potential pitfalls were also brought up during a public hearing. One dealt with rented furniture that's left behind. Under the bill, the landlord, not the furniture company, would own it. Attorney David Sparer says this is just one example of why the legislation needs to be examined by the state's consumer protection officials -- something he says the authors failed to do.
"I have checked on that and I know the answer is no,” Sparer said. “Honestly I think that's embarrassing for the proponents."
The bill received hearings in both Senate and Assembly Committees Wednesday.