Bill would expand rights of landlordsA plan that would chip away at a variety of tenants' rights is making its way through the Wisconsin legislature.
By: By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A plan that would chip away at a variety of tenants' rights is making its way through the Wisconsin legislature.
Landlords would gain power to manage their properties in a variety of ways under this bill. It would let them evict a tenant if a crime is committed on a rental property, even if the tenant could not have prevented the crime. They'd be allowed to tow trespassing cars without first calling the police. And landlords could keep building code violations a secret unless they've been ticketed for them first.
Dylan Jambrek with the University of Wisconsin (UW) students group United Wisconsin says that puts a lot more burden on students to figure out if their apartment is fit to live in.
“You're actually taking out a lease for a year on a house, and you don't know, for instance, if the hot and cold water runs or if the heat is going to hold in the winter,” Jambrek said. “Those are basic expectations for housing for anybody, let alone students.”
The bill would also trump city ordinances that limit a tenant's responsibility, and it would get rid of a Madison ordinance that requires landlords to distribute voter registration forms to tenants. Wisconsin Realtors Association lobbyist Joe Murray says it replaces the patchwork of local landlord-tenant ordinances that exists right now.
“You can go to Verona just outside Madison and they will have one set of rules and regulations, and then you go over to Middleton or McFarland and they're going to change,” Murray said. “It's difficult for tenants, it's difficult for landlords. Some standardization is what the bill's about, and we think it helps.”
Last session Republicans passed a law that limited other tenants' rights and gave landlords more power to dispose of a tenant's unclaimed property. They also passed a law that attorneys said would make it harder to sue landlords in small claims court.