I can’t believe it is Thursday already… having Monday being a holiday throws my entire week off. But I heard the garbage truck going down the hill this morning (actually I heard the dog barking at the garbage truck), so that reminded me… gotta get the garbage out. In addition to the radio show, today is going to be an interesting day because we are adding a new member of the family to the Dr. & Mrs. Rent household, but more about that either tomorrow or early next week.
With it being a 4-day work week, I have been behind all week… but what else is new. But, it is Thursday and the show must go on… the Dr. Rent Radio Show to be specific which will hit the air on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM tonight from 5 to 6 PM.
We had another Wausau Housing Task Force meeting where the topic was trying to define blight, it is hard to get a plan to address the problem until we can specifically agree on what the exact problem is that we are trying to fix. What did our little group come up with? That is tonight’s main show topic. I will cover that topic first because I still have a number of questions to get through, and if I do questions first, I don’t know that I will get through all of them and get to the main topic. As time permits, the questions we will TRY to get to include: Can the landlord change the rules on month to month agreements? If the yard of a rental house has an army worm infestation, is this a landlord problem or a tenant problem? If there are multiple tenants on a lease but the landlord only has a problem with one of them and only wants to evict one of them, can they do that? Is it legal to charge for carpet cleaning? And, a question that I had that got answered last night has to do with the 21 days for returning the deposit, when is day one, AND do you have 21 days to send it, or 21 days for the tenant to get it?
Last week’s show was a show with no main topic, only questions covered. The first question had to do with what rights a tenant has if the bank forecloses on a landlord and wants the tenant out. Normally, when a property changes hands, the leases remain intact. But a foreclosure will normally void leases. However, new laws were passed to protect tenants who were paying rent, complying with the lease, and facing homelessness because the landlord didn’t pay their loan on time. Two statutes cover this, the first is WI SS 704.35 that basically states that if a landlord is going through a foreclosure, they need to tell any prospective tenants about this in writing and it has to be disclosed in the lease, if it is not, the tenant has the right to void the lease. For current tenants, rights are given to them under WI SS 846.35. This statute established certain requirements for the bank (or the party doing the foreclosing) to notify the tenants of where the process is, that way tenants know when the action has been commenced, when the redemption period ends, and when the sheriff sale is to be confirmed. Even though a foreclosure ends a lease, to protect tenants, this same statute allows tenants to maintain occupancy (assuming they pay the rent) for an additional two months after the confirmation of the sale. Because the likelihood of the bank returning the security deposit is somewhere between slim and none, this is one time a tenant MAY use the deposit to cover the last month’s rent. Also, a tenant cannot be named on the foreclosure action as a co-defendant. If a bank violates any of these rules, they are subject to a fine of $250 (plus attorney fees) paid to the tenant.
The next question was how to evict someone because of constant noise complaints. Well, the first thing that needs to be determined is if the noise is a legitimate concern. There is always going to be a certain level of noise in multi-family situations, however if the noise does unreasonably interfere with other tenants, this may constitute a “breach” of the rental agreement. Of course, this can be handled like any other breach by giving the proper notice (such as a 5-Day or 14-Day). The problem is that if this goes as far as an eviction action, just like any other breach, you need to prove it. And noise problems are very difficult to prove, especially since most of the time those people who are having the problem with the noise, the neighboring tenants, don’t want to get involved… they just want the landlord to “handle it”. However, if the landlord can’t prove the problem, they can’t win in court. If the rental agreement is month-to-month, this is much easier to take care of. In a month-to-month, EITHER PARTY can give notice for no reason. So, the landlord could just give the tenant a month’s notice ending the agreement with no reason. Problem solved and no need to prove the complaint.
Speaking of notices, there is still this common belief that if you issue a 5-Day Cure or Vacate notice, and the tenant doesn’t comply, you then give them a 14-Day Notice to Vacate, and if they are still not out, time to evict. That is not how it works. If the 5-Day is the proper notice for the breach that happened, what the 5-Day does is tell the tenant that they have 5 days to solve the problem and if they don’t, their right to be there ends (their “tenancy is terminated” if you want the legal term). Once the tenancy has been terminated, once their right to be there ends… that is when an eviction action can be started. So, tenant doesn’t pay the rent, the landlord gives a proper 5-Day to pay the rent or vacate. The tenant still doesn’t pay the rent. After those five days, their right to be there ends, an eviction action can be started… there is no additional notice needed.
This leads into another question a landlord had. When you file for an eviction, from the date you file the case to the date your case is scheduled for an initial appearance, you are looking at about 3 (and sometimes 4) weeks. So, if you do a 14-Day notice, and then wait until the end of that notice to file for the eviction, the tenant is actually there for about a month and a half from the date of the notice until the first court date. That is a long time for someone you want out. So, why not save some time and file for eviction at the same time you give the 14-Day notice? That way, by the time the notice date comes up, you only have a week or so to wait before your court date. Well, the reason why you don’t want to do that is because under Wisconsin law, a landlord cannot file for eviction until a tenant’s right to be in the property has ended. That right does not end until those 14 days has elapsed. If the case is filed before the tenancy has been terminated, and tenant brings this up as an affirmative defense, the court should dismiss the case.
Finally, there was a question I didn’t have an answer to. A person who is managing some property for a landlord that does a number of student rentals has a policy that rent can only, ONLY be paid by the tenant (the student). Often, parents will pay the rent for their children in college, but this landlord won’t accept payments from the parents. Often, the students end up having to open up a checking account just so the parents can put money in it so the students can pay the rent. The question to me was… is there a good reason for this policy? And to be honest, I couldn’t think of one. I was in Stevens Point last night and met with a number of landlords who do student housing. They all agreed, they don’t care who pays the rent as long as the rent is paid. No one there could come up with a good reason why a landlord should not accept a rent payment from a student’s parents. If any of my readers can come up with a good reason for this policy, please feel free to share.
Well… off to get some bills paid. Hope everyone has a good Thursday and I am eager to meet the new family member…. Until 5 PM this evening when I hit the air waves… HAPPY RENTING!