New Rules that Start on April Fools Day

It is Thursday, time for another installment of the radio version of the Dr Rent Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, from 5-6 PM. And for the first time that I can remember, the Dr Rent show will be broadcast on April Fool’s Day, and I plan to make the most of it!!

First a brief re-cap of last weeks show, a show that was devoted to questions that had come up. First, a tenant in a duplex was having a dispute with the neighbor and the landlord. The person asking the question has a severe allergy to dogs, which the neighbor and the landlord don’t seem to care about. What can the tenant do? Unfortunately, unless there were representations made in writing, not much. Did the tenant tell the landlord about the severe dog allergy? Did the landlord promise not to rent to anyone with dogs? And were either of those things done in writing? If not, there really is not much of a recourse. It is plausible that the dog allergy could be considered a disability and therefore the landlord would be required to make reasonable accommodation for that disability. However, in this rental market, would establishing a no dog policy and have the unit sit vacant waiting for a tenant without pets be reasonable? Also, although the landlord is required to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, the landlord is NOT required to incur the cost of those accommodations. My advice, discuss the situation with the allergy with the landlord and determine if they would be willing to release you from your rental agreement.

One question that came to me asked about the best way to structure a “rent-to-own” deal. I hate it when I have questions that I really can’t answer. There really is no one-size-fits-all “best way”. There are so many different ways to set them up, and the circumstances for both the tenant as well as the landlord will impact what is the best way. Some of the things to consider are if the tenant will be required to purchase the property, or simply has the right to (in other words, are you working with an offer to purchase, or an option to purchase). Next, is the purchase price predetermined or not? If it is predetermined, is it fixed for the term of the agreement, or does the purchase price change depending how long the tenant goes before they actually buy the property? If the purchase price is not going to be determined until the tenant actually buys, how will it be determined? Will you have an appraisal done, use the assessed or EFMV values off of the tax statement, or just come to a mutually agreeable amount? Another big question will be will any of the rent paid in go toward that purchase price. Each situation is different and what kind of a rent-to-own agreement is “best” depends on the specific circumstances.

There is some confusion if the new Carbon Monoxide detector rule that goes into effect today applies to single-family homes and duplexes. Technically, it does not. In the case of college housing where you have a number of students in a single family home, though, it would. Single family homes only don’t fall under the rule if they are used for a single family. However, a new law was passed that will make the CO Detectors mandatory in single family and duplexes (INCLUDING OWNER-OCCUPIED) as of February 1st, 2011. THAT SAID – Considering the dangers posed by Carbon Monoxide, does it really make sense to wait until next year? My advice, watch the sales. I picked up my CO detectors when they were on sale at Menards for $15 each. Watch the sales, if you see a good price, get them!

Finally, a renter lives next door to an owner-occupied house in the City of Wausau, and that house has a dog outside that barks non stop. There are actually 5 total dogs living there (which is against ordinances). My advice was to call the police and continue to call the police. If the police confirm there are 5 dogs, they will be cited. If they are cited enough times, the City could put its chronic nuisance law into effect (though I doubt they will). To be brutally honest, I fear all that will happen is that the City will tell them “Stop, or will tell you to Stop again.” Don’t be afraid to call your alderperson or even go to a city council meeting and at the end of the meeting there is a time for public comment. Go to the podium and explain the problem you are having. Hope for the best.

So, lots of good information put out last week. This week we are not going to cover any tenant questions. Instead, I am going to dedicate the April Fool’s Day show to new laws that go into effect today that I am sure you have never heard of.

These new laws include:

The 21-Day deadline for Security Deposit returns no longer apply. It is now 45 days and ONLY if the tenant asks for it back in writing.

The Township of Rib Mountain has decided that renters are more problem than they are worth and effective today, renting of residential real estate is no longer allowed. (Commercial renting is allowed only with a conditional use).

The state No Smoking laws that take effect in July include a provision that outlaws smoking in rental housing effective today.

Because of the confusion over even-odd parking in the City of Wausau, the City has decided to solve that problem by mandating that all housing (rental and owner-occupied) have one garage stall per bedroom, so on-street overnight parking is no longer needed.

A little-publicized part of the new Health Care Bill that was signed into law had a provision that now mandated that Landlords must provide health insurance for their tenants.

Finally, effective today, you no longer need to be a resident of a certain district to run for office in that district – so I will be declaring my candidacy as a write-in candidate for all 12 aldermanic districts within the City of Wausau.

It should be a fun show – but please remember, this is my April Fool’s Day show so try not to take me too seriously today. Until this evening… HAPPY RENTING!


About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
This entry was posted in April Fools, CO Detectors, Dog, Questions, Rent-to-Own, WNRB and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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