Another week has gone by since my last blog post. I was hoping to do a blog post over this last weekend that summarized the 3 Housing Task Force hearings, but that didn’t happen. It has just been one of those weeks…
This last weekend was spent mowing lawns. Monday evening was spent doing an equipment check for the fireworks show I am shooting in Pell Lake, WI on Sunday evening. Tuesday was simply insane. I went to City Hall to cover the IC Willy’s hearing for Citizen Wausau, thinking it would be a couple of hours.. silly me. The thing started a few minutes after 1 PM. However I had a 3 PM meeting. Dino came down there about 2:30. I texted Dino about 5 PM to see if the hearing was done yet. It was not. I went to the Woodchucks game, got my free hat, and watched the Chucks beat up on the Mallards. After the game I joked with the people in the row behind me that I would stop by City Hall and drop in if the lights were still on. This was about 10 PM, and they were. Holy Crap! So, I hung out in the “press corner” with Jeff from the WDH, Matt from AM 550 and Dino from CW. I ended up not getting home until about 3 AM.
However, it was up and at ‘em Wednesday morning. I had a few important things to get done in the office before court at 9 AM, where I had an eviction case against a fairly high-profile corporate tenant. We did reach a settlement minutes before the case was to be heard. (However, a transformer blew right as court was about to start, which took out the power and activated the fire alarm system – it was an interesting morning). After court, it was off to Green Bay to pick up the shells for Sunday’s fireworks show and from there to my Oshkosh WAA office to catch up on some work there. I got back just in time for the 5:30 Wausau council meeting that ended up being a nail in the coffin that is IC Willy’s liquor license.
Tonight after work and before heading to the Chuck’s game, I will be on the air with the Dr. Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, from 5-6 PM. We have a number of issues that we will be talking about, time permitting. I had a question about the legality of a non-refundable pet deposit. I had a question come up about a rental agreement that was tied to an offer to purchase, was the money put down on the house a security deposit? I had someone ask if I knew about a part of the federal Health Insurance reform that would add a “sales tax” on to rental revenues. In court yesterday, we did our settlement in the form of a Stipulated Dismissal of Judgment, what is that and how does it work? The Wausau Water Works Commission met yesterday and made a decision on a turn-off policy, we will talk about what they decided and what happens now. Finally, I blogged about my ideal Housing Task Force and was going to cover it as a radio show topic but ran out of time last week. We will try to get to that again this week.
Last week, the main topic was a summary of the testimony from the 3rd Housing Task Force hearing, but I will be covering that in a different, much longer blog post (hopefully fairly soon).
I covered a question that came from a landlord. They had issued a 5-Day for Pets, the tenant cured by removing the pet, but never paid the pet fine established by the lease. The tenant got a new pet a few months later… again they got rid of the pet after the 5-Day notice was issued, but the fine was never paid. Can the landlord issue a 5-Day notice because of the unpaid fine? Can the landlord issue a 14-Day notice because they breached the pet rule twice in 12 months?
If the pet fine is covered in the written lease agreement, then not paying such a fine is a breach of the lease and therefore yes, a 5-Day notice can be issued for non-payment of the pet fine. However, when the 5-Day notice is given for the pet, a landlord can include paying the fine as part of what is needed to cure; for example, the tenant has 5-Days to remove the pet AND pay the pet fine or the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy (and start an eviction action). The second time in 12 months that the pet rule was violated, the landlord did not have to issue a 5-Day notice, they could have issued a 14-Day notice instead. (As we have discussed many times, a 5-Day gives the tenant the “right to cure,” the ability to fix the problem. A 14-Day notice basically demands that the tenant leaves within 14 days.) At the 2nd (or subsequent) violations within 12 months, the landlord has the right to choose a 5-Day or 14-Day. However, to give any notice, the breach must be occurring. So, if you gave a couple of 5-Day notices because of a couple of pet rule violations… and the tenant cured these breaches… and you want to issue a 14-Day, you cannot if they are not in breach, you would have to wait until the next time.
We also talked about landlord breaches and what a tenant can do if the property is “untenantable.” Withholding rent is not an option for tenants, because that would put them in breach. If the property is “untenantable” the tenant has the right to break the lease, move, and surrender the property back to the landlord. The lease stops the day the landlord receives the property back, and any pre-paid rents need to be refunded back to the tenant. The law does allow for partial abatement of rent if the problem with the property limits the tenant’s use of the property, but not enough that it can’t be used at all. The rent can be reduced by the amount of use the tenant lost. However, that is a very subjective measure and puts you clearly in lawyer land. Under current law however, if the tenant remains in the property, full abatement of the rent is not an option. One item that was offered as a blight solution by an attorney who often represents low-income tenants who testified at the 2nd Housing meeting thought that a law that would allow for full abatement of rent in certain circumstances might be a worth while pursuit. However as of right now, no such law exists for the Wausau area (the City of Madison though may have such an ordinance, I don’t know if they do but it wouldn’t surprise me.)
As always, lots of great information on the Radio Show.
Before I forget, although I will be doing a Dr Rent Show this evening, there will NOT be a Dr. Rent show next week, on July 8th. I am a speaker for the Marshfield Area Apartment Association and that conflicts with my show time. I will be back on the air the following week, on the 15th. There is a chance that there will not be a show on July 22nd, but I don’t know this for sure. I am attending a housing conference in La Crosse on the 21st and 22nd, but I have no idea how late it will run on Thursday and therefore don’t know if I will be back in time for the show or not. But, you can always check out this blog.
Until later this evening, HAPPY RENTING! (and… GO ‘CHUCKS!!)