By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member
Earlier today I met with two individuals from Milwaukee County Housing Services:
They shared information about Rent Assistance Programs and what you need to know as a landlord.
Here is a summary of this information:
Federally subsidized, tenant-based rent assistance: how does it work?
Tenant is responsible for a maximum of 30-40% of their monthly, gross, adjusted income towards rent
Housing Assistance Payment covers rest of rent amount via direct payment to landlord (monthly)
Main Types of Tenant-Based Rent Assistance (TBRA)
Typical Process for Landlords for TBRA
General Perks of Utilizing Rent Assistance
Tips for Best Utilizing Rent Assistance
Make the following clear when advertising unit availability:
Request pre-screening of your available units before completing and submitting paperwork to rent assistance program
Prepare units for Housing Quality Standards inspections prior to initial inspection
Complete and submit any rent assistance paperwork as quickly as possible, and electronically, if an option (pics are fine)
Reach-out with any issues with non-payment, lease violations, issues, etc. ASAP
Milwaukee County Housing Services
HUD Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Landlord Resources Page
Impact 2-1-1 (Crisis Resource Hub for Available Services)
Milwaukee County Section 8 - Damir Djidic
Milwaukee County My HOME - Jessica Shriver
Milwaukee County Housing First - Shaunton Harris
By Atty Heiner Giese
I had an interesting case before Judge Davis in Milwaukee County.
The case had been settled with a stip in May 2022 providing for dismissal based on tenant paying $100 per month extra to catch up on $900 arrears. We consented to the sealing requested by Legal Aid attorney.
Tenant paid for a while, then fell behind in November and December, we got a writ in early January based on noncompliance, tenant moved out before writ was executed. In March we got a $1000 judgment for back rent (negotiated with Legal Aid though $1300 was due).
Then we moved to unseal her name. She also has several prior evictions with unsatisfied judgments.
The Legal Aid attorney argued against it, citing "inherent power of the court" and that the tenant's name was still searchable on the judgment docket.
Judge Davis went through her usual analysis about when a case can be sealed (public open records interest vs. private interest of tenant to find new housing, etc.), ultimately ruling in our favor to unseal the tenant's name. But at one point it sounded like she was going leave it sealed, noting that plaintiff had not objected, had in fact consented, when the first cause of action was dismissed.
The lesson is this: If you agree to sealing before the case is completely settled, if there is a pay-and-stay stip or if there is a date for future hearing on 2nd & 3rds you should specify that your consent or "no objection" to sealing is conditioned on the tenant living up to their end of any stipulated settlement. That will serve as an additional inducement for the tenant to live up to the stip so they don't lose the benefit of having the case sealed.
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council is offering a free fair housing training seminar for owners and managers of rental properties in the City of Milwaukee! Whether you've been managing properties for decades, or are new to the rental industry, this seminar will offer important, up-to-date information about how to comply with fair housing laws.
The seminar will cover a wide range of fair housing topics, including:
While the seminar is free, attendees must register in advance.
If you need materials in alternate formats or other accommodations to access our services, please call 414-278-1240. This material presented during the seminar is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Recording of the seminar is not permitted.
Compiled By Dawn Anastasi, RPA Board Member
Here are some recent Wisconsin-based housing news articles:
Why Madison rents are rising so fast and won’t slow down
“When I talk about Madison experiencing a housing crisis, this is what I mean,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who made city incentives to develop more rental units a staple of her reelection platform this spring. “We are seeing symptom after symptom of years of failing to produce enough housing and, in some ways, this is the inevitable result.”
Research shows Badger State is short on houses, developers fight to keep up with demand
According to the Wisconsin Counties Association and Forward Analytics, 140,000 homes need to be built by 2030 to keep up with demand for folks under 65. It's a staggering number to avoid a state-wide housing shortage. Researchers aren't optimistic, but developers said they think it's doable.
"This is something that's been coming for a long time," Dale Knapp said. Knapp's the research director for the Wisconsin Counties Association and Forward Analytics. Over the last several years, he and his team tracked housing numbers across the state, finding supply simply isn't meeting demand.
"The shortage is being driven by the large baby boom that is retiring and essentially leaving the workforce, but like other generations, staying in their homes and they'll continue to," Knapp explained.
Knapp said this is a problem because the baby-boom generation is 20 percent larger than previous generations, leaving fewer homes for people in the workforce.
Rent increases in Wisconsin cities among the steepest in the US
According to data sets from two rental-listing aggregator businesses, average monthly costs for 1- and 3-bedroom rentals in Wisconsin have jumped by as much as 25% since 2021.
In the United States as a whole, annual rent increases have remained under 10%, said Jonas Bordo, CEO and cofounder of rental marketplace Dwellsy, which provided national-level and Wisconsin city-level data for this analysis. That’s still twice a pre-covid era annual rate increase of around 4-5%.
50 New Homes For Early-Childhood Educators
A new partnership aims to build 50 affordable, owner-occupied homes for early-childhood educators that will help the future owners build wealth, while chipping away at the minority homeownership gap, improving neighborhoods and encouraging more workers to pursue a career in child care.
The homes, 1,000-square-foot, single-story structures, would be built on vacant lots near five early childhood centers. Each house would have three bedrooms, one full bathroom and a full basement.
According to a financing model included in the RFP, the funding will be allocated as a $109,000-per-home grant to a developer to close the gap between the estimated $209,000 cost to develop and build the house and the resulting $101,850 sale price.
The new homeowners would go through homebuying counseling and have an $87,000 30-year mortgage at 4% interest. The monthly mortgage payment, inclusive of taxes and insurance, is estimated to be $736 per month. Appliances are to be provided, as is a $15,000 downpayment.
An eviction case involving Berrada Properties generated a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 14.
Jill Kastner, supervising attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, said the order is "going to have big impact on tenants in Milwaukee."
I disagree. This case WILL NOT HAVE A BIG IMPACT.
What happened here is that Berrada filed an eviction complaint without specifying what type of notice had been given to the tenant (it was a 5-day notice) or the day it was given. What Berrada said on the complaint was simply:
"Defendant(s) served with a termination of tenancy notice and failed to vacate the property."
The trial judge allowed the case to proceed but the appellate judge said the case should have been dismissed because the complaint did not sufficiently advise the tenant about the grounds for the eviction. The complaint did not state any dates on which anything happened. However, the appellate judge failed to consider that the tenant had received a notice which was dated and which would tell the tenant what she had to do to avoid an eviction.
Almost all evictions filed by landlords in Milwaukee County do at least state enough basic facts to let the case proceed. In fact, Legal Action admitted in its reply brief that "every other landlord in Milwaukee County" includes sufficient notice in their eviction complaints.
For example: Tenant was served on May 10, 2023 with a 5-day notice to pay delinquent rent or vacate the premises. Tenant has failed to pay the rent owed and has not vacated the premises. The amount of damages are to be determined.
That should be sufficient for the complaint.
Interestingly, the attorneys on both sides and the appeals judge failed to consider the correct solution when a bare-bones, unclear complaint is filed and the defendant is uncertain how to respond. Such a case should not be dismissed. The tenant's attorney should have filed a "motion for more definite statement" under sec. 802.06(5):
(5) Motion for more definite statement. If a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, the party may move for a more definite statement before interposing a responsive pleading. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired.
This case is by one appellate judge, is unpublished and is not legal precedent.
But Berrada had filed an amended complaint which named a wrong address and a wrong defendant's name. That was a separate ground to dismiss the complaint so the appeals court WAS correct to dismiss the eviction on THAT basis.
Link: Court of Appeals Decision (PDF)
Los Angeles, CA -- Delinquent tenants in the greater Los Angeles market owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid back rent as the city enforces new renter protections. Los Angeles extended a prohibition on evicting tenants for having unauthorized pets or occupants in their apartments. In addition, it renewed a rent freeze on rent-controlled apartments until next year. Landlords are no longer allowed to evict tenants in any rental property, including single-family homes, unless there was unpaid rent, documented lease violations, owner move-ins or other specific reasons. The provision starts after six months or when a lease expires, whichever comes first.
California landlords, who have sued local governments over eviction laws, say there is no longer any pandemic justification for many renter protections, according to the Journal. In some cases, landlords say, tenants have taken advantage of the laws as an excuse to not pay, straining small operators who may own only one or a handful of units.
Read the full article here.
Detroit, MI -- A proposed ordinance seeks to end the ability for an owner end a tenancy when they want to sell the property or plan a major renovation. “Selling the property or doing a major renovation, those are not just cause in the sense a tenant has done anything wrong,” said Julia Belian, law professor at University of Detroit Mercy.
DeKalb County, GA -- A U.S. Army officer says a squatter moved into her DeKalb County home while she was serving on active duty, and now she can’t have him evicted.
“He’s not a tenant. He’s a squatter,” Lt. Colonel Dahlia Daure said. She was renting out her metro Atlanta home, but after a $35,000 renovation, she put it up for sale. “I got a cash offer. It was under contract,” she said. That’s when Daure says Vincent Simon apparently moved in.
This week she served Simon with eviction papers, but he has a right to respond and have the case heard by a judge. Channel 2 Action News learned that Simon has a long criminal history, including convictions for guns, drugs and theft charges. Daure saw him moving giant safes into the house. Gray went to the home multiple times to try to talk to Simon. He never answered the door.
Jacksonville, FL -- Co-owners Patti Peeples and Dawn Tiura said they believe the squatting began in March, a short time after a tenant moved out. According to the police report, one of the women said they found the property on Zillow and signed a rental lease. On Tuesday morning the squatters were finally evicted from the home.
Now the owners are filing criminal charges. ″This has been a 40-plus day process that we have been unable to take repossession of a home that we own by squatters who broke in and inhabited our home and then destroyed it,” Peeples said.
Peeples and Tiura said they estimate about $15,000 to $20,000 worth of damages, from holes in the walls, ripped-out cabinets, dish-washing machine damage and even a stolen washer and dryer.
By Heiner Giese, RPA Counsel
Attention Milwaukee Property Owners!
You will have received a notice like the one below from the City of Milwaukee’s tax assessor office.
It tells you that the assessed value of your real estate parcel has not changed for 2023. What it DOES NOT make clear is that you can still appeal last year’s assessment if it was too high and you missed the May 2022 deadline to file an appeal or if you have now decided that the assessment is too high and it should be appealed.
I recently spoke to two owners. One of them negligently let last year’s deadline pass (the assessment on his three unit building had been bumped by $50,000). The other owner lost the second stage of his appeal on a technicality. But owners can now appeal that 2022 assessment which has become the 2023 assessment.
You should go to www.Milwaukee.gov/AskAssessor to learn about your appeal rights.
The deadline is May 15, 2023.
By Tristan R. Pettit, Esq.
A new and updated version of the Nonstandard Rental Provisions (NSRP) form that I draft is available for purchase at Wisconsin Legal Blank.
The need for the revisions were due to conversations that I had with the State (namely the Attorney General's Office) while defending a client of mine during a Civil Investigative Demand (CID). During our conversations, the AG's office informed me that it was their opinion that a NSRP cannot state that a landlord can deduct from a tenant's security deposit both a fee (set by the landlord) and the actual costs incurred by the landlord.
It is the AG's opinion that a landlord can only deduct from a tenant's security deposit for the actual costs incurred by the landlord.
I am not aware of any law, rule, or caselaw that sets forth the AG's view regarding this, however I certainly do not want any of you that purchased a form that I drafted, to be investigated by the State. So I have errored on the side of caution.
As such, the revised NSRP form (dated 4/11/23) excludes any reference to a fee (except for a late fee) and instead states that the landlord can deduct its actual costs incurred as a result of the tenant's failure to properly perform the listed requirements.
Did you like this article? Read more on Tristan’s Landlord-Tenant Law Blog.
The fall Landlord Boot Camp is scheduled for Saturday, November 4, 2023. Save the date on your calendar now!
If You've Never Attended Boot Camp
As a rental property owner, invest in yourself with education that can help your business succeed.
If You've Attended Boot Camp Before
How often should you attend the Landlord Boot Camp? Per Tristan Pettit, the attorney teaching the course, try to attend at least once every 3 years unless there is a significant law change. Tristan says:
I have clients that go every other year and they tell me there are new things they learn every time and they have not been disappointed in coming to see it.
I have clients that go every other year and they tell me there are new things they learn every time and they have not been disappointed in coming to see it.
Treat the Landlord Boot Camp as continuing education, much like any other industry.
Certificates of attendance are sent to every member that attends after the class is conducted.
Registration for the Fall Landlord Boot Camp will be coming in the future.
Do you have any questions about the Landlord Boot Camp? If so, comment below and we will get your questions answered!
The AASEW is changing its name to Rental Property Association of WI, Inc. as mentioned in tonight's General Membership meeting.
Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the new name? Please post them below!
BECOME A MEMBER - JOIN TODAY!