Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself. Summer is fairly busy for me. And just to ensure that I really don’t have any down time, I schedule more things in my off time that I can ever really accomplish.
One of those things is my getting more active in the Wisconsin Corvette Club. I have been attending the monthly meetings regularly now for a while. The meetings are the third Wednesday of the month in Waukesha at 8 PM, which means I am normally rumbling back into town about 1 AM-ish. I have also helped with one of their competitive events and tomorrow evening, I am going to attend my first social event. We are meeting at one of the park & ride spots, we are then caravanning through some back roads to a place called Heaven City for a Friday Fish Fry. As of last night, it looked like there was going to be about 35 Corvettes making the trip.
On Saturday, the Wisconsin Apartment Association has their quarterly board meeting. It is in a different city each time to try to be fair to the members, who are spread out all over the state. This Saturday we are in Baraboo. So, rather than hauling my butt back from Milwaukee Friday and to Baraboo Saturday I decided to split the difference and will just spend the night in Madison. Again, sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself.
Luckily for the listener (yes… singular, LOL) to the Dr Rent Radio Show (Thursdays from 5-6 PM on 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP), the 3-hour drive home allowed me to come up with a topic for tonight’s show. (Remember, in addition to asking Dr Rent questions, you can also make recommendations for show topics.) One of the things I want to discuss on a show very soon is the new federal legislation that addresses lead-based paint. However, I decided before I get into that, it would be a good idea to just discuss lead-based paint in general. What it is, what the hazards of it are, where it is found, how to protect yourself, where you can get more information, etc. (This will be a GREAT show topic for home owners as well as landlords/tenants!!)
There really were no questions that formally came up in the last week, but not long ago I got an email from a fellow landlord who had one of those “what were they thinking” moments with a tenant. The tenant’s negligence caused a fire, and now the tenant wants out of the lease. I actually had a tenant call me with a similar situation about a year ago, where they fell asleep while cooking and there was a kitchen fire, now the landlord wants to bill them for the repairs. We will look at situations like this and discuss just what the laws are about who pays and when the tenant can break the lease.
On last week’s show, we started with yet another question about security deposits. Two questions in fact. First, routine cleaning. Can “routine” cleaning come out of a security deposit? No.. it cannot. However, does that mean that you, as a tenant don’t have to clean? No.. it does not. If no cleaning is done, the argument can be made that the cleaning required was beyond “routine”. At what point does cleaning go from routine to beyond routine? THAT is a really good question. It is a judgment call and everyone’s judgement is a little different. Often, courts are forced to answer this question on a case by case basis.
In the second question, a tenant was on a month-to-month rental agreement and the landlord gave the tenant notice. The tenant vacated by the middle of the month, but didn’t pay that last month’s rent because it was the landlord who gave notice. The landlord took the half month’s rent they were there out of the deposit. Can they do that when they gave notice?
Yes they can. In a month-to-month agreement, the contract ends when EITHER party gives proper written notice. Many tenants like month-to-month agreements because of the flexibility it offers them, they don’t have to commit to a long term (year) lease. However, that flexibility works both ways. Just as the tenant can give a month’s notice, so can the landlord. And unlike an eviction notice (5-Day or 14-Day), the landlord needs no reason to give notice. So, by the landlord giving notice, an end date of the contract was now determined. The tenant IS responsible for the rent until that end date. And, if rent is unpaid, unpaid rent is clearly an item the law allows to come out of a deposit. In this case, the landlord only took out the amount of rent for the days the tenant was in the unit. In reality, they could have deducted the rent for that entire last month. However, if they had a new tenant move in for part of that month, any rent paid by the new tenant would count toward the old tenant’s amount owed. Landlords cannot “double dip” – meaning they cannot collect rent from the old tenant AND the new tenant for the same days.
We had also discussed briefly two pieces of legislation currently floating around the Capitol in Madison. There is a proposal offered by Rep. Schneider to severely limit the amount a city can charge if they have to shovel your sidewalk. It is an interesting proposal, but based on the strength and influence the lobby for municipal governments have, I don’t see that one getting very far.
The other proposal offered by Senator Coggs has to do with making victims of domestic violence a protected class for housing. Which basically means, you could not turn someone down for housing, or treat them differently because they are a victim of domestic abuse. I did question this when I first heard of it because when the law was being created that would allow victims of domestic violence to break a lease, I thought I remembered a provision that made it illegal to discriminate against the victims. I couldn’t understand why this law was needed when we just had a new law passed that addressed this. However, I have looked at the new law in the form it was passed and I can’t find that provision. So, it was either a figment of my imagination or for some reason didn’t make it through to the final version.
The other question I had on this proposal is actually not so much a question as a comment.
I guess I am a bit naïve that a law like this is even needed. Is this really a problem? Are victims of domestic abuse really getting turned down for housing because of their status as a victim? Wow! If this is happening.. then how sad of a world it really is and how needed this new law is.