It’s Thursday, and since the A/C in our office hasn’t been able to keep up in the afternoon the last few days, I am actually looking forward to the constant 80 degree temperatures in the WNRB-LP studio.
Before getting into today’s topic on the Dr Rent Radio Show (from 5 to 6 PM at 93.3 FM), I will take a few moments to summarize what was discussed last week.
We started with a question about what recourse a tenant would have against the landlord for not returning the security deposit when nothing was in writing, including no receipts for the cash payments made. Wisconsin law dictates that tenants are required to get receipts from landlords for cash payments.
If the month-to-month agreement was in writing, you would have a much better case even without the receipt. If the agreement indicated that there was a deposit but the landlord said the deposit was never paid, but they never issued any notices about the unpaid deposit, they might not be as believable as the tenant. However, with everything verbal, it comes down to your word against the landlord’s word.
The sad truth is that this would be a very difficult case for a tenant to win. Your best hope would be to CCAP the landlord to see how often they go to court as the defendant and how often they lose their case. If they have a “reputation” of not really following the laws with the court commissioner, it will definitely help your case. Short of that, consider it a lesson learned.
The next question again had to do with a verbal month-to-month agreement. The tenant gave a month’s notice in writing but the landlord said that 45 days notice was required. The problem with verbal agreements is that you have to depend on both parties recollection of the terms. If the landlord said 45 days notice and the tenant agreed to it, then that is the notice. However, if the landlord said 45 days notice and the tenant “doesn’t remember” that particular term, then the normal notice provisions under state law take effect (28 days written notice).
Keep in mind the way 28 days notice works is that the rental agreement can only end at the end of a rent-paying period. So, if your rent is normally due on the first of the month, the notice is only effective on the last day of the month. You cannot give notice on June 15th that you will end the agreement on July 15th. That would be considered proper notice with an improper date, your actual end date would be July 31st.
We also fielded a question from a home owner who lives next door to a single-family home that is rental property. And there are constant issues with noise and other disturbances and they call the police (and the police come) almost nightly. They know that Wausau has a Chronic Nuisance ordinance and wonder how this rule might help them with these “problem tenants.”
First, I did explain that they may want to find out who the landlord is and tell the landlord about the problems they are having. Don’t assume the landlord knows, especially in the City of Wausau where if there is a police problem at a rental property, they rarely inform the landlord. So, the landlord really can’t take action on the property unless they know there is a problem.
Also, the way the Chronic Nuisance ordinance for Wausau works is that if there are 3 actions taken at a single address within a 6 month time frame, that the police department can, at THEIR option, call that property a Chronic Nuisance. A few details of this ordinance are that if it is an apartment building, it is not 3 actions at that building, but 3 actions within a specific apartment unit. 3 actions doesn’t mean the police show up, they have to either make an arrest or issue a citation or something along those lines. Certain arrests (including drug arrests) don’t require 3 actions, they can be declared a Chronic Nuisance after only 1 action. Also, if is the property owner who makes the call, it won’t count as one of those three actions (as the police don’t want to discourage the owner from doing something). Also, this ordinance is not a rental property law. It applies to every single property in the City of Wausau, rental and owner-occupied, residential and commercial.. even vacant parcels.
ONLY IF the police dept. determines that a Chronic Nuisance exists (remember, this is not automatic after three actions, it is only if they choose), then they are obligated to contact the property owner and the property owner needs to take “reasonable efforts” to stop the problem. If they do not, the police department can now charge the property owner every time they respond to the property. (However, the new domestic violence law that allows victims to break their lease and allows landlords to evict the abusers also has a provision that prohibits police departments for charging for domestic violence related police calls.)
So, by having the police come on a regular basis, it is not a chronic nuisance. Only if they issue citations or make arrests, at least 3 within 6 months. And only then, if the police dept wants to, do they tell the property owner there is a problem there and charge the property owner if they don’t do something about it.
This week, the show topic is going to discuss Rep. Marlin Schneider’s (D-WI Rapids) most recent attack on CCAP. If you remember, early this session he had made a proposal for it to be a felony for anyone to use CCAP information in making a rental or employment decision. He received enough flak from that proposal to rescind it in March.
His new proposal presently being circulated for co-sponsors would remove pending actions and dismissed actions. It would only have records online after a conviction was done (criminal cases) or a finding of liability made (civil cases). In addition, if someone was turned down for renting or employment because of their CCAP record, they would need to be notified of this fact in writing. Finally, there would be a $10 per year charge for the right to access the CCAP system.
Before covering this important topic, we will touch on a few questions this week.
– A student is going to Germany for a few months and has been looking for a place to stay. They found someone to rent them a place, but they want $1,000 sent to them before they will send a contract. How can you figure out if this is on the “up and up”?
– The landlord has returned the security deposit to a tenant, but they withheld for repairs needed to the toilet, repairs that the tenant has been complaining to the landlord about for some time and the landlord never fixed. Can they do this? (It truly is amazing how many landlord-tenant questions come back to security deposits.)
– Finally, we explained the procedure a few weeks ago on a landlord taking a tenant to court, what does it look like the other way. What are the steps for a tenant to take a landlord to court.
Because of the importance of the CCAP legislation to all of us, this is definitely a “can’t miss” show. So until 5 PM tonight, HAPPY RENTING!