It’s Thursday! Thursday of course means three things to the good Dr. It means that I had to remember to take the garbage out before leaving the house this morning. It means it is bill day at work (but then again, so are Mondays). And, it means I end the day on the air on 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP with another installment of the Dr. Rent Radio Show.
I was out of the office all day yesterday in class – not giving one but taking one. The new “Renovate Right” rules went into effect on April 22nd, and in order to perform certain types of maintenance on my own properties, I have to be state-certified in lead-safe practices. My head of maintenance attended this training last month. Now that I have also gone through it, I need to get our paperwork submitted for our official credentials. The main topic of tonight’s radio program will be why I (and other landlords) need to take this training, and what some of the things are that were covered.
As always, before the main topic, we cover questions that came up in the previous week. The first question comes from a landlord whose tenant told them that if the carpet was older than 10 years old, the landlord had to (by law) replace it. Is that true? Also from a landlord, a tenant vacated the property before lease end and the landlord is going to sell the property instead of try to find a new tenant. The tenant says the landlord can’t hold them liable for the rest of the lease if that is the case. Is that true? Another question from a landlord involved ending a tenant’s lease. How and when does a landlord notify a tenant they are not renewing their lease; and as a related question, is there a law that specifically says that the tenant cannot use their security deposit as last month’s rent? Finally, I get questions about apartment associations so we will briefly discuss the Wausau Area Apartment Association and how to get a hold of them as well as the Wisconsin Apartment Association.
Our first question last week had to do with property management and when it was time to consider this as an option versus managing the properties yourself. Instead of using my blog to summarize this topic, I instead refer you to the blog of Attorney Pettit (http://petriestocking.com/blog/) because his April 27th blog post was my reason for covering it on my show. His blog also encourages your response and thoughts on this “when to hire a manager” issue.
Next we tried to clear up Wausau’s rules on landlord registration. This was prompted by a comment on one of my blog post entries where the person thought this only applied to out-of-county property owners. That is not the case. Every owner of residential rental property is supposed to register with the City of Wausau Inspections Dept. as to whom the contact person is for that rental property.
If you are an individual that lives in Marathon County, you can use yourself as the contact person if you wish.
If you are some type of corporate entity that has a full time business office within the City of Wausau, that corporate entity can be used as the contact.
If you are a corporate entity that is on paper only (no full time office), you need to have an individual within Marathon County be your agent. The same is true if you are a corporate entity that does have a full time office within Marathon County, but not within the City of Wausau.
Of course, if you are an individual, or corporate entity (with or without a full time office) and are not located within Marathon County, you need a registered agent within the county.
Another question came from someone who attended one of my training sessions and kind of plays into a question we talk about on tonight’s show, and that is using the security deposit for the last month’s rent. My leases do not allow that. My method for ensuring payment involves using WI SS 704.27. If I do not receive the last month’s rent, I will still issue a 5-Day Notice. Of course, if the rent is not paid within those five days, I can now evict. But I won’t. The lease will end and the tenant will be out before this case gets to court. However, by issuing the 5-Day notice and the tenant not paying, I have terminated their tenancy, or ended their right to occupy the property. Per WI SS 704.27, I am entitled to double rent for each and every day the tenant occupies the property beyond the date their right to be there ended.
So, if I tenant didn’t pay their last month rent, and turned over the unit in good shape but maybe left behind a $60 unpaid water bill; I need to ask myself a question. If all they owe me is a $25 Late Fee and $60 water bill, is it worth paying $94.50 in court costs plus the cost of service to chase down an $85 debt? However, because I issued a 5-Day, the decision to go to court becomes easier for me. If the rent was $500 per month and I issued the 5-Day Notice on the 6th giving the person until the 14th to pay, now I am entitled to double rent from the 15th on (lets just say half a month to make the math easy). So, now I can go to court for the late fee, the water bill, and double rent ($250 in this example). Spending $94.50 plus service to go to court to collect a claim for nearly $350 is a much easier decision to make.
This doesn’t work if the tenant vacated. If they gave me the keys on the 14th, then they weren’t in the property and double rent wouldn’t be allowed.
Finally, my main topic last week reminded tenants applying for apartments that honesty is normally the best policy. That seems to go without saying, but the most obvious example I gave is for tenants who are currently in the middle of being evicted from their current landlord.
I will be honest, if you tell the landlord to the new place that you are looking at you are in the middle of an eviction, there is a very good chance that things will stop right then and there. However, in these economic times, that is not a given.
If you are honest about being involved in an eviction, maybe there are extenuating circumstances. Maybe you fell behind in rent because you lost your job. But now you found another one but it was too late for the old landlord. Or, maybe you still don’t have any money coming in, but you have a parent or a relative with good income who would be willing to co-sign. In the past year, I have taken a number of people who were in the middle of an eviction, depending on the circumstances of each case. And, more than 80% of those are working out.
So, if you are honest, there is a chance the landlord may take a chance on you. However, if you lie about your current situation, and the landlord discovers you lied. I don’t know of any landlord who would now be willing to take a chance on you. Of course, through the magic of CCAP, learning that a tenant has been less than honest is much easier to do. Pulling a “Vandelay Industries” is still possible, but harder. When you list your friend as your rental reference and we call them and get a good reference and then look you up on CCAP and see that you are in the middle of an eviction action – we can now call your “real” landlord AND we also then have to wonder what else we will be lied to about.
So, as you can see, if you miss one show, you miss a lot. However, as a reminder, next week you won’t miss much at all. Next week is another tour around the state. I will be doing speaking engagements in Hudson, Stevens Point and Fond du Lac. The Fond du Lac trip does conflict with the radio show, so no radio show next week. I will be back on the air the following week though.
So, until then, HAPPY RENTING!