Landlord and Tenant Rights (and Wrongs)

The busy week I last blogged about is coming to a head. I got my last class for this weekend written and just need to run down to Office Max to get copies made. Because I was at the housing fair in Merrill, the 5-Day notices to the tenants whose rent hadn’t been received didn’t go out yesterday and will go out today instead. The last few things I need to do, in addition to running those copies and delivering some love letters, is do this blog post for the radio show, do a survey form for the conference this weekend, and enter and pay bills. I will be on the air tonight from 5 to 6 PM on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM here in the greater Wausau area. Then I will be heading down to the La Crosse for the Wisconsin Apartment Association’s Annual Conference and Trade Show.

If you listen to other WNRB-LP programming, you are probably aware of Conversation Digest on Fridays at 7 PM. A recent addition to that show is “Dr Rent’s Current Events”. Because I will be out of town this weekend, I am not able to get this week’s questions to the hosts of that program… so I apologize for fans of that segment of what has become my favorite WNRB-LP program (favorite other than mine of course).

The main topic of tonight’s show (and maybe the next couple of shows depending on how far I get through it) is the presentation that I prepared for the Lincoln County Housing Fair I participated in Merrill yesterday. The program is titled “Landlord and Tenant Rights (& Wrongs).” Last week, I didn’t get to the question about what happens when the 21 Day security deposit deadline is missed, so I will start the show with that question. A question that came up at the Housing Fair yesterday will also make tonight’s show. A tenant wanted to break their lease to get away from their roommate and the landlord said that was okay. Then, the landlord discovered the roommate had no source of income (had lost their job since originally renting to them) and changed their mind about letting the first tenant out of the lease… can the landlord do that?

Last week we had a discussion about what are some of the things landlords should look at when qualifying tenants.

For me, housing reference is one of the most important things. A tenant could have really bad credit, but if they made sure that housing (and the landlord) were one of the first things they paid, that will go a long way with me. (People who rob Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul).

Getting a credit report is also a really good idea. In addition to the credit and payment information, you also will get a list of a number of previous addresses (which you can then use to verify that they address they are giving you on the application matches). You will also get a list of previous names they have used, which comes in handy for CCAP. Mary Smith may have nothing on CCAP, but under her maiden name of Mary Jones, that could be a different story.

Speaking of CCAP, that is also a great source to use, but care needs to be taken. First, make sure you are looking at the right person. Many people have similar names. If you research my name on CCAP, John H. Fischer currently comes up with 74 listings (the overwhelming majority of which are not me). If you didn’t know my middle initial, there would be over 270 listings. Also, take the time to read the intro screen, because it will say if charges have been dismissed or not yet finalized, and read the details of the case itself. Dismissed charges and pending charges cannot be considered.

Although landlords in Wisconsin cannot discriminate based on lawful source of income, they can discriminate based the amount (with the exception of Madison where amount of income is also a protected class). It is a good idea to verify that source of income. If the tenant reports they make $1,200 per month, but the employer says they only make $600 because they are part time, that could make a big difference when considering someone for a $500 per month apartment.

Each landlord sets their own criteria as to what qualifications a person needs to have for approval or denial… however, these criteria cannot single out protected classes, and these criteria need to be consistent. The larger risk a landlord is willing to take, the larger the prospective tenant pool is.

Well… it is after 10:30 so I really need to get these copies made and the 5-Days delivered so that I can start on these bills. Have a great weekend everybody and until the radio show at 5 PM… 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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