• 11/17/2023 8:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

  • 11/10/2023 1:30 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    The Marquette Lawyer magazine published a 10-page article in PDF form by Alan J. Borsuk and Tom Kertscher about evictions in Milwaukee.

    View the PDF here

    Some excerpts:

    In the longtime words of the Wisconsin Supreme Court (these being from 1979): “The decisions of this court have held that there are a very limited number of issues permissible in an eviction action.”

    Heiner Giese, a Milwaukee lawyer who has represented apartment owners for more than 40 years (and is the legal counsel for the RPA) is quoted in the article:

    “Often, the most that attorneys for tenants can accomplish is to delay an eviction.”

    The article explains more about this statement in the following two paragraphs:

    But several property owners’ attorneys said that proceedings often are slower because more attorneys are involved and those attorneys use strategies for delaying outcomes. Some noted also that more property owners are calling on attorneys to represent them than in the past.

    Several attorneys said that delays in concluding cases can mean increases in lost rent for owners, and extra costs for owners to pursue cases can mean higher rents or increased security deposit requirements for all tenants, including those who pay their rent steadily.

    Tristan Pettit, an RPA board member, is also quoted in the article:

    Tristan Pettit is executive vice president of the law firm of Petrie + Pettit and head of the firm’s landlord–tenant team. He said that the substantial increase in the percentage of eviction cases involving lawyers for the tenants has slowed down many proceedings. But, he said, it has also had benefits. “If you have a difficult tenant, having an advocate [for the tenant] can make things much easier,” he said.

    The article also questioned the money going to attorneys who may delay the eventual eviction, rather than provide those funds to help tenants pay rent:

    In the Stanford Law Review Online in July, two law professors questioned giving legal representation of tenants priority over what they regarded as the bigger need of tenants: rent money.

    Here’s their view, as summarized by the law review: “Most low-income tenants facing eviction do not need a lawyer. They need rent money. . . . If we want to reduce evictions, tenant lawyers are not the best tool. Rental assistance could resolve, or even avoid the filing of, most eviction cases.” The authors said that the $46 billion in federal funds made available during the height of the COVID pandemic to help people who otherwise would have been facing eviction showed how much increased rental aid could reduce eviction problems. They called the movement to provide every tenant a lawyer in eviction proceedings “misguided.”

    The article also covers the current trend in "redacting" or sealing of eviction records, by sharing Judge Cynthia Davis experience.

    The number of requests in Milwaukee County Circuit Court to redact names of defendants in eviction filings has skyrocketed. In 2011, according to the clerk of the court, there were 63 such requests. In 2022, there were 1,959. “These have flooded our system,” Davis said. She was spending two mornings a week on such requests while she was on the small claims bench.

    Generally, Wisconsin law strongly favors—indeed, requires—the accessibility of public records. Among other provisions, the legislature has provided (Wis. Stat. § 19.31) that “[t]he denial of public access generally is contrary to the public interest, and only in an exceptional case may access be denied.”

    Tim Ballering is an RPA Board Member and the current Treasurer. He is quoted in the article as well:

    Ballering said that new tenants who have had an eviction in the prior year fail to fulfill their lease obligations (to pay their rent) at significantly higher rates than other new tenants. By three years post-eviction, the track record is about the same as that of tenants without eviction records. Preventing landlords from seeing names of people who have been evicted is not only a problem for landlords, he said, but also for people who are better candidates to be reliable renters yet who may lose out in getting an apartment to someone with a past eviction.

    Tim is further quoted in the article when the topic of mediation is covered, specifically highlighting Mediate Milwaukee (one of the organizations the RPA has had as a speaker at general meetings and who had a booth at our recent Trade Show).

    Property owner Tim Ballering said, “Mediate first is a concept that we were unaware of in our industry.” The impact of COVID-19 accelerated efforts to mediate, he said. “A lot of people knew mediation was available mid-process, but to do it upstream is best for everyone.” He said mediation efforts overall have been “very successful.”

  • 11/08/2023 11:30 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member

    In our previous blog article, we mentioned how HACM is now starting to hold Virtual Sessions with its housing providers. 

    Here are some notes from the first session.

    • Last month, HACM issued 250 vouchers to first-time voucher holders.
    • In the last 2 months, HACM hired 2 new inspectors.
    • Vouchers last 120 days from the date they are issued. This means that once a tenant obtains a voucher, they have 4 months to find housing with that voucher that meets their needs.
    • If a rental property owner fills out the voucher, but for whatever reason the lease doesn't move forward, the tenant can get the voucher paperwork re-issued.
    • Why is HACM limited to only 12 month leases and won't support month-to-month? HUD says that the 12 month lease provides housing stability for the landlord and tenant.
    • Rental property owners who have Rent Assistance tenants should make sure they are signed up for the HACM portal. No rent ledgers will be emailed anymore. The information can only be downloaded on the portal.
    • If you didn't get your registration email for the new HACM portal (you need it to become registered on the site), email Steven Fendt and he will make sure it gets to you.
    • All leases are set to automatically renew unless:
      • A 60 day notice is received from either the landlord or tenant saying a party wants out of the lease at its end date
      • The unit required an annual inspection, failed the annual inspection, and then failed the re-inspection
      • The tenant failed to recertify in a timely manner -- all section 8 tenants have to prove their eligibility each year

    Link to HACM's Housing Portal

    RPA's previous blog article on How to Sign up for the HACM Portal

    The process for a voucher household:

    • Applies to the program
    • Selected off the waiting list
    • Passed the background check
    • Provided income and household membership documentation
    • Attended briefing
    • Given voucher
    • Searches for housing that meets their needs that fits the voucher
    • Applies to a rental
    • Rental property owner and applicant fill out voucher paperwork
    • Voucher paperwork is sent into HACM
    • HACM performs a "Rent Reasonableness" check based on the rental unit
    • HACM collects documentation from the rental property owner if they are new to the program (ownership verification / W9)
    • HACM inspects the property (expect a call from HACM within 2 days of submitting the RFTA -- blue form)
    • The tenant signs the lease with the rental property owner and moves in
  • 11/03/2023 5:00 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    From HACM:

    Thank you for your continued partnership with the Housing Authority City of Milwaukee (HACM) to provide over 6,000 low-income individuals and families safe, quality, and affordable housing in Milwaukee! At HACM, we are continually looking for more efficient and effective ways to work together, both in serving our existing Section 8 participants and expanding our support for additional families in need.

    Today, we are thrilled to introduce a new initiative that we believe will enhance our partnership: a monthly, virtual drop-in session for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Housing Providers. Starting this coming Wednesday, November 8 at 10 AM, we invite you to join us online for this valuable opportunity to stay up-to-date on our Section 8 - Housing Choice Voucher program and to share your insights with us.

    If you did not get an email from HACM with your registration link, contact Stephen Fendt via email.

  • 11/01/2023 9:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    Link to Full Article Here

    This year, Berrada Properties gave out two $5,000 scholarships, 10 $1,000 scholarships and a laptop to every student who applied.

    “The management team and the ownership team are very conscientious people who have warm hearts, and you don’t hear that a lot,” said Archie Blunt, the director of community outreach with Berrada Properties. “And I wouldn’t associate with anything that was less than . . . I hope what I can bring here is to show this other side and create more positive impacts.”

  • 10/30/2023 8:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member

    If you attended this year's RPA Trade Show, then you're aware of how amazing it was! If you didn't, you certainly missed out!

    We had hundreds of attendees, and over 60 booths. The speakers were so amazing we had lines out the door to hear them speak!

    We also had resources for rental property owners from Mediate Milwaukee and the Rental Housing Resource Center / Community Advocates.

    Attendees of the trade show got a free pen from RPA and important legislative information. Many of the vendors gave out bags, candy, as well as an impressive amount of information!

    The buffet lunch, casino games, and happy hour were fun additions to the event for members and guests to socialize.

    If you couldn't make it out this year, mark your calendars for next October! The trade show for 2024 is sure to be even better!

    See This Link for Pictures of the Event

    Did you attend the Trade Show this year? If so, what did you think? Tell us in the comments!

  • 10/26/2023 8:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Breck Dumas, FOXBusiness

    Despite warnings from economists, rent control is becoming more and more popular in progressive strongholds. Oregon led the charge in 2019 when the state imposed a cap on older units, and California followed suit in 2020. Since then, municipalities in Illinois, Colorado, Massachusetts and elsewhere are considering similar moves.

    Many states had various forms of rent control in the 1970s, another time of high inflation. However, several banned rent control after that, when there was a consensus that price controls were destructive policies.

    Read the full article here

  • 10/24/2023 8:00 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    By Atty Heiner Giese

    A group of Legislators are presenting a package of 20 separate bills affecting landlord/tenant laws. If enacted these would dramatically affect your leases and how you operate your rental properties. They would reverse legislation passed between 2011-2018 which created statewide uniformity in rental regulation.

    Here are some of the key changes proposed:

    • The 5-day notice for nonpayment of rent is extended to 30 days.
    • If you have accepted late rent payments in the past the tenant can now use this as a “waiver” argument to negate a termination notice.
    • Municipalities can impose an eviction moratorium. Did the COVID-era moratorium cause you any problems? There’s not even a health-related requirement under the proposed law – it could be imposed for any reason.
    • There would be a 60 -day notice requirement if you’re refusing to renew a lease. And you’ll have to have just cause for nonrenewal of a lease. True, nonpayment or harassing other tenants would be just cause. But the tenant who you’d like to replace because they were consistently paying late – but who is current right now – has the right to stay another year.
    • All tenants in an eviction case get a free lawyer at taxpayer expense regardless of their income! Plus, this “free lawyer” provision will delay the court case because the tenant can first appear in court without a lawyer and then ask for one to be appointed resulting in a delayed hearing. Rental agreements must inform tenants of this right to counsel.
    • The 10-day time limit for tenants to get approved for State emergency rental assistance is removed. Some of the proposed bills in this “tenant protection” package also require landlords to apply for any possible rental assistance program and to hold an eviction in abeyance while the landlord and tenant are considered for aid. There is no time limit on how long that vetting process can hold up an eviction.
    • Stipulations for “pay and stay” or for an agreement by the tenant to vacate by a certain date in exchange for a dismissal are often used and are beneficial to both tenants and landlords. But if the stipulation is not complied with one of the bills now requires notice and an evidentiary hearing before a writ or money judgment can be entered. This leads to the ridiculous result where a landlord might agree to dismiss if the tenant moves out in 7 days but if the tenant doesn’t move the landlord would have to give the tenant another notice and go back to court to get the writ confirmed.
    • Numerous other changes to landlord/tenant law are proposed such as: creating a “rent abatement schedule”; allowing the tenant to withhold the entire monthly rent if only a minor defect hasn’t been repaired; giving outside “tenant organizers” access to your building; voiding a nonpayment notice which has a typo in the amount due; making a mailed notice effective after the 5th day instead of the 2nd day.

    Does this potential legislation concern you? If you aren’t yet a member of the RPA, join NOW so you can keep informed through our member programs. The most effective way to fight slanted, misguided legislation is through your dues which support our lobbying and legal efforts on behalf of rental property owners.

  • 10/14/2023 2:30 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    An interesting article from Drew Dawson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, linked here for our members:

    Article Link


    There are two laws that apply here:

    Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)(a)2: "Keep in a reasonable state of repair all equipment under the landlord's control necessary to supply services that the landlord has expressly or impliedly agreed to furnish to the tenant, such as heat, water, elevator, or air conditioning."

    ATCP 134.04(2)(b)2: "Heating facilities serving the dwelling unit are not in safe operating condition, or are not capable of maintaining a temperature, in all living areas of the dwelling unit, of at least 67° F (19° C) during all seasons of the year in which the dwelling unit may be occupied. Temperatures in living areas shall be measured at the approximate center of the room, midway between floor and ceiling."

  • 10/11/2023 11:30 AM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

    This FAQ has been prepared by Atty Heiner Giese on behalf of the Rental Property Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (formerly AASEW) and other interested rental property owners and associations.

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court held an open administrative conference on October 9, 2023 to consider a petition (No. 22-03) filed by Legal Action of Wisconsin (LAW) concerning the retention of court records in eviction cases.

    Evictions are heard in small claims courts throughout the state. LAW’s petition asked the court to shorten court record retention rules so that cases where no money judgment was entered against a tenant would be deleted from the state CCAP filing system after one year.

    LAW’s petition did not seek to change the current rule that eviction cases with a money judgment remain public for 20 years.

    1. So what exactly did the seven justices decide at their October 9 conference?

    Exactly what they decided is not yet certain. While they took a 4-3 vote in favor of changing the record retention rules this has to be put in writing and formally issued as an order by the court. There may then be separate opinions by justices supporting or opposing the changes.

    Contrary to the impression from some media coverage, any eviction where a landlord gets a judgment for back rent or even just a judgment for court costs if the tenant moves out WILL NOT “go away” after two years. Those eviction cases remain public for 20 YEARS.

    2. Reporting by the media says the court “sided with tenant advocates.” Is that what happened?

    The media might be interpreting the 4-3 vote as the majority siding with tenant advocates and the minority siding with landlord advocates. But while we don’t yet have a written order the majority vote clearly rejected LAW’s request for a one year record retention and declared that dismissed evictions would remain public for two years.

    Numerous tenant advocates and social agencies had filed comments in support of the one year rule. The media failed to look at the comment submitted by major Wisconsin rental property owner groups which opposed a one-year rule but suggested the court adopt a two-year rule. So this 4-3 decision actually sided with the landlords.

    3. Are Wisconsin landlords then generally in favor of a rule whereby dismissed evictions aren’t searchable anymore after two years?

    Many owners would probably prefer a longer look-back period than two years. Some larger owners have policies whereby they want to know of any evictions filed against a prospective tenant for a time period of between three and seven years. Credit histories are generally maintained for seven years by credit reporting agencies, for example.

    4. So why did the landlord groups propose a two-year rule?

    For two reasons.

    First the existing Supreme Court Rule SCR 72.01(8) which governs all small claims cases including evictions already operates to remove many eviction records on CCAP two years after the case is closed. For example, of the 1,101 evictions filed in Milwaukee County in December 2019, 517 are not viewable by landlords using CCAP to screen tenants.

    Secondly, landlord groups supported a statute favorable to tenants passed in 2018. Section 258.20(2)(b) gives the Director of State Courts the authority to remove eviction cases after two years if no money judgment has been docketed. The statute also cuts the retention period to ten years from twenty years for cases where a writ of restitution was issued against the tenant.

    5. Why were three justices opposed to the two-year rule if there wasn’t any strong opposition to it by any of the interested parties?

    We’ll have to see what any dissenting opinions might say but of course this issue on eviction records doesn’t just involve tenants and landlords as interested parties. The public also has a strong interest in open records. Just because a current landlord and tenant might agree that an eviction record should be effectively sealed doesn’t mean that future landlords or other credit providers don’t have the right to see whether someone has a track record of not paying rent.

    Even private parties: if you are a person looking for a roommate to share an apartment you’d want to know if someone didn’t pay their rent three years ago, even if the eviction filed against them was dismissed because they moved out just before the court hearing.

    6. At the oral hearing on the petition on September 7, 2023 tenant advocates proposed that the Wisconsin Supreme Court and not the Wisconsin Legislature should have ultimate authority over court record retention rules. Has that question been decided?

    That legal question may not be covered when the court issues its written order. But it was revealing that Justice Rebecca Dallet, who voted with the majority, said that the court was not contravening an act of the legislature. She pointed out the two-year provision in section 758.20 and stated that the legislature “had the right to do that and we are implementing their policy.”

Rental Property Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (Formerly AASEW)
P.O. Box 4125
Milwaukee, WI 53204-7905
Phone: 414-276-7378

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