What a job of multi-tasking I did last night. The third Wednesday of the month is when the monthly meetings of the Wisconsin Corvette Club are, and Imake an effort to make the trek down to the Milwaukee area for those meetings, which are held at the Machine Shed restaurant. Some members of the Waukesha Apartment Association (a local affiliate of the Wisconsin Apartment Association) had asked me to contact them if I was going to be in their area with some non-landlord things we are working on. I sent them an email letting them know of my Wednesday pilgrimage when they informed me that there was a conflict. The Waukesha Apartment Association was having their holiday party Wednesday evening. However, as WAA outgoing president, I was invited to stop by if I was in the area. I asked where… and the answer was the Machine Shed. Go figure. I was able to attend both things last night.
Wednesday is gone and Thursday is here… time for another installment of the Dr. Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM (in the Wausau area) from 5 to 6 PM.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, I had 3 minutes to share my thoughts about the Federal Building… they gave me at least 5 because that was the best I could do in shortening my thoughts. So.. I will share with my listeners what points I was trying to make. There were also some comments that came up during the discussion by alderpersons as well as city staff that I feel need to be repeated, and then commented on… so that will also be on tonight’s radio show.
Before the main topic, we cover the questions that came up this last week. I had someone new to the landlording business ask for a clarification on just exactly what 5-Day and 14-Day notices are, how they work, and when they are used. Next, if the parties to the lease don’t care for the 5-Day/14-Day system, can they establish a different system to handle tenant breaches within the written lease? And… what about landlord breaches? What types of notices are needed when the landlord is in breach and what remedies does the tenant have?
Also, I want to let everyone know that coming up on Monday Evening, December 20th, Wausau’s Public Health and Safety Committee is going to have a public hearing on one of the first work products of the new and improved Housing Task Force – it is an attempt to define blight. Although the notice for the meeting is not yet on the City’s website, I assume the meeting will be held at the normal committee 5:15 PM meeting time. I will be up front and say that by establishing a formal definition of blight, that this act of itself really doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. However, if the Housing Task Force has a mission of coming up with ideas to address blight, a tool that we need is a definition of what blight is, breaking it down into smaller component parts, that way we can try to come up with ideas to address the various aspects of blight. The most recent draft of the blight definition from early November is as follows:
16.02.20 Purpose. The purpose of this title is to protect the public health, safety and welfare and to prevent the continuation, extension and aggravation of urban blight.
Under this title, a property is considered blighted if;
(a) The existence of health, safety, or welfare factors require high levels of municipal services.
(b) It has been determined to contain environmental contamination of the building and /or property.
(c) The property is not being adequately maintained
(d) Tall grass or weeds, unauthorized outside storage or accumulation of trash of any kind, the parking of inoperative vehicles, boats, or other machinery are present on the property.
(e) Uncorrected building, plumbing, or electrical violations are present.
(f) The property has become a place where criminal activity and/or vandalism has taken place as documented by the City of Wausau Police Department.
(g) The property is a factor that is creating substantial risk of interference with the lawful use and enjoyment of other space in the building or other properties within the neighborhood.
(h) It has been determined to be a fire hazard by the City of Wausau Fire Department and documented in Fire Department Reports.
The main topic of last week’s radio program was the story of the Landlord and the Couch. There is no need to do a blog summary of what was discussed on air because if you look back at my recent blog entries, two blog posts already addressed that issue. It was one of those things where I blogged about it before it became a radio show topic.
However, we did have some questions that we covered. First of all, we talked about what a first right of refusal was. In the terms of a lease, the most common use of a first right of refusal is something that a tenant requests to ensure that a property that they are renting does not get sold. Maybe they have an interest in purchasing the property, but are either not in a position to purchase at the moment, or they want to try before they buy… or maybe they want to purchase but the landlord is not ready to sell right now. A first right of refusal is a written agreement that would allow the tenant to purchase the property if another offer was submitted to the owner that was acceptable to the owner. Once the property owner gets an acceptable offer, the owner would need to share the details of that offer with the person with the first right of refusal. They would then have the opportunity to purchase at those terms.
A few things to be aware of as a property owner, this could delay a purchase agreement. How long does the person with the right of refusal have to make a decision? The person who made an offer may want an answer back in a few days, but that will be impossible if a different party has a few weeks to make a decision. Also, normally a person making an offer on the property is assuming that the details of the offer will not be shared with any third party. If there is a first right of refusal pending, the owner really should make the person with the offer aware of this and the fact that a third party will not only get to know the details of the offer, but will have first shot at matching it.
The next question was from a tenant who is renting a property where the landlord is in some financial distress. The bank has contacted the tenant (via phone) telling them that they need to be out of the property within 10 days. Yes, a foreclosure can knock out a lease (where as a normal sale of a property will not), however the tenant still has certain rights. The bank cannot give the tenant notice to vacate until the ownership of the property has changed and the bank is the actual landlord. Also, nothing in Wisconsin law allows for verbal notices of any kind. If the notice was not in writing, there was no notice.
We talked about tenant’s rights when they holdover recently, how in a residential lease, if the lease term ends and the tenant continues to pay rent and the landlord continues to accept rent, the parties have essentially agreed to a month-to-month extension of the original rental agreement. Is this also true in non-residential leases? Sort of. If the non-residential lease was for a term of less than one year, the same month-to-month holdover would be created. A key difference in a non-residential lease is when the original term was for a year or longer. In that case, the holdover becomes a year-to-year holdover, and not a month-to-month one.
Finally… a question I get quite often this time of year… can a landlord evict a tenant in the middle of winter? Yes. There are no restrictions based off of time of the year as to when someone can be evicted. Often tenants believe that a landlord cannot do a winter eviction because utility companies have restrictions about turning utilities off during the winter months. However, as I often tell tenants who tell me that they cannot be evicted because of these utility policies, I point out that when the sheriff removes them from the property and they are on the outside looking in, they will see that the utilities are still on.
So, again, tonight’s show topic is an in depth discussion of my personal thoughts on the Federal Building conversion into 20 apartments. Until then… HAPPY RENTING!