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Wisconsin Supreme Court Adopts Landlords' position on Eviction Record Retention

06/18/2024 2:30 PM | Dawn Anastasi (Administrator)

By Atty Heiner Giese

The Wisconsin Supreme Court today issued it’s long-awaited ruling (Rule Petition 22-03) on how long eviction case records should remain available to public view via online access to court records.

The Court rejected the petition of Legal Action of Wisconsin for only a one-year retention and accepted the proposal of the Rental Property Association of Wisconsin and other landlords: 2 years retention if no money judgment entered and 10 years if a writ of restitution was granted.

The dissent by Justice Hagedorn (joined by CJ Ziegler and J. Rebecca Bradley) says a change to open records should have first been vetted by the Court's own CCAP committee and there should have been more consideration as to how restricting access to eviction filings is going to affect the business practices of landlords -- who are entitled to know the prior rental history of tenant applicants and will pass on the costs of more difficult screening to other tenants (J. Hagedorn does not say it, but an example of this is landlords requiring a double security deposit because they can't be sure if an applicant had prior evictions and is thus not a good risk).

The Order's effective date is delayed for one year to July 1, 2025 but the current law found in Wisconsin statute section 758.20 -- which requires no less than a 2 year retention for evictions where no money judgment was docketed and 10 years if a writ of restitution was issued -- was acknowledged by the Supreme Court and should continue to apply. Legal Action of Wisconsin had urged the court to overrule that statute and make its own rules but the court specifically declined to do so.

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Rental Property Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (Formerly AASEW)
P.O. Box 4125
Milwaukee, WI 53204-7905
Phone: 414-276-7378

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