Eviction Complications – Don't You Just Hate That

I got up this morning and looked out the window and thought wow.. that was a pretty heavy frost that we got last night. Shortly after I got downstairs, the dog realized I was roaming around and got up and headed down to the back door to be let outside. As is our routine, he goes out there in the morning, does his business, barks a couple of times just because he can, and pounds on the door to come back in about 5 minutes later. As he walks in, I always pet him as he goes by. This morning, he was a little bit wet, so I took a closer look at the “frost” outside and… sure enough… SNOW!

I have taken the plow off of the truck and put the brush guard back on. The tractor and broom are currently at CWC in Stratford getting some season-end repairs. My shovels and buckets of salt have all been put away for the season… so let’s all hope this is just a brief spring snow shower that will melt by noon.

Today will be an interesting day even without snow removal duties. I will be in court at 1:30 PM today on the damage hearing part of an eviction that took place about a month ago. This was a tenant who was creating legitimate problems, but problems that would be difficult to prove. This was a small, 1 bedroom apartment and the tenant had moved in anywhere from 3 to 5 extra people. And, one of those people came complete with 2 small dogs (this building doesn’t allow dogs). The problem with these particular lease violations is if I went to evict the tenant, I would be forced to prove my claims. How do you prove you have 6 people living in a 1 BR apartment? How do you prove you have 2 dogs in a 1 BR apartment? It is not easy my friends.

This rental agreement was a month-to-month agreement, so instead of “evicting” the tenant, I had the right to just end the rental agreement for no reason with a proper month’s notice. And that is what I did. At the end of the notice, the tenant refused to leave. Now, I could evict because that is easy to prove – I gave proper notice, the rental agreement has ended, and they are still there.

Evictions are done in Marathon County in two parts. The first trial is for the eviction itself, where the court decides if the landlord has proven their case that the tenant should be removed from the property. The second part of the trial (if the landlord wants it) takes place a number of weeks later. They give the landlord enough time for the sheriff to remove the tenant and for the landlord to figure out just how much damage (if any) was done and how much total the tenant owes. The second trial then determines the amount of money damages (if any) the tenant owes the landlord. My damage hearing is today.

I have evidence from the Sheriff’s department on when they finally vacated the apartment, as I am entitled to double rent from the time that rental agreement was over until they finally left. I also have witnesses who can attest to the fact that the dogs were there and for how long (I have a daily pet fine in the lease). I also have a number of pictures. I honestly don’t expect the tenant to show up. If they don’t, I will win by default. If they do show up, we will first need to try to settle the case. (I can’t remember the last time I actually litigated a case because I am a HUGE fan of coming to some kind of settlement agreement). However, I do know that if they show up, settlement will not be an option to them. Only time will tell how this afternoon goes.

However, at 5:00 PM, it will be over to the WNRB-LP studios to broadcast the next edition of the Dr Rent Radio Show (which can be heard locally at 93.3 FM). If you remember last week, I talked about 6 new rules. They were: changes in the security deposit return laws, Rib Mountain banning tenants, no smoking in rentals, mandatory garages in Wausau, landlords providing health insurance for tenants, and the ability for people to run for office even if they don’t live there. I made an effort throughout the show to emphasize that this was the first ever April Fool’s Day Dr Rent show… however, just incase you weren’t sure… none of those rules really exist. And I apologize if there was any confusion or if any government body took offense at me having a little fun at their expense.

Today, we are back to serious topics and serious questions. Our topic of the day stems from a great discussion on one of the articles on the Wausau Daily Herald website. We will talk about various ways the City can address blight (an issue brought up in many districts) and actually be effective in its efforts. Before that, we have some questions that have come up that need some attention.

One came from a landlord that I met at the Sheriff’s department. He had issued a 5-Day Notice and the tenant has not left. He was at the Sheriff’s department to get their help. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works. We will briefly discuss what happens after the 5-Day and what the Sheriff can and cannot do. We will also look at the ramifications of taking the law into your own hands. Finally, we will discuss some creative solutions that are legal.

A while back, I blogged about another blog. The president of one of the apartment associations in Milwaukee who is also an attorney well-versed in landlord-tenant laws is one of my favorite blogs out there. This week, at http://petriestocking.com/blog/ Attorney Pettit discussed the common question of what happens when a lease requires that the tenant give landlord advance notice that they are not renewing at the end of a lease, and then they vacate at the end of the lease without giving such notice. This is such a common question, I felt it would be a good one to talk about on tonight’s radio program as well.

The court hearing I have later today is not my only pending action. On Tuesday I filed a new eviction action and on Wednesday, I was in court on an eviction “return date” where I filed a settlement plan I had worked out with the tenant. On the case before mine, the case was called, the tenant showed up, the landlord did not. The judge indicated the case was dismissed. The tenant then had the question – what does that mean?

Finally, I had a question from a long time friend who is a landlord in town who needed guidance on the law that was passed a few years ago that gave victims of domestic violence the ability to break their lease. Where can this law can be found and just how does it work?

Those are a lot of great questions so I really hope that I do get to today’s main topic. But if I don’t, at least I will have something to talk about next week. So, until then… HAPPY RENTING!

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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
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One Response to Eviction Complications – Don't You Just Hate That

  1. I love learning about how the different counties handle evictions. Do you know that in Milwaukee County there is a commissioner or two that read the statute regarding damages to read that if you are getting any kind of damages (i.e. rent) that you are not entitled to holdover damages at all.

    Every other county that I practice in I can get rent and either holdover damages or physical damages to the unit — and since holdover damages are easier to prove I typically advise clients to opt for the holdover damages if the amount is close to the physical damage amount.

    In Milwaukee, these few commissioners, I can only get damages and physical damages — no holdover rent for me or my clients.

    Kind of a perverse reading of the statute in my opiion but we play with the hand that we are dealth

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