Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Law Changes
On December 21, 2011 the Wisconsin state senate put into effect an act to change the landlord tenant laws. This is known as 2011 Wisconsin Act 108. This act was designed to eliminate many of the additional laws local municipalities added on top of state laws. Here are a few rules that got wiped out:
Minimum Income Requirements: Under the old law, Madison landlords couldn’t deny tenants based on income if the tenant could prove they had paid a similar amount of rent in the past (this made it rather easy for tenants to have illegal incomes). Now, landlords can again qualify based on income.
Court Records: Previously Madison landlords could only look at court records related to housing for the past 2 years when considering a tenant. Now a landlord can use any court records, arrest records or conviction records.
Security Deposits: Previously Madison landlords could not ask for more than one month’s rent as a security deposit, and a landlord had to pay interest on anything over half a month’s rent. Now landlords can ask for any amount as security deposit and they don’t have to pay interest.
There are a lot of other rules like this throughout local municipalities that were eliminated. As you can imagine, as a landlord, I’m happy for the changes. However, there are many tenants throughout the state that are upset about these changes. If you consider yourself a quality tenant, think about how these things will actually help you. By allowing landlords to actually reject an applicant based on court records or income, it will allow us to keep the quality of your neighborhood better. We can now keep drug dealers and criminals out of your building.
I can see how some landlords could abuse some of these policy changes. Although, I’d be willing to bet that there are more bad tenants out there then there are bad landlords. If a landlord takes these changes to the extreme and says he/she wants a $5,000 security deposit, and won’t accept you because you got in a fight in high school, they are probably going to end up with a vacant building. Therefore it’s in a landlord’s best interest to be fair, reasonable, and most importantly ethical.
In summary, tenants still have a whole slew of rights and are still protected by fair housing laws. These changes in the law should ultimately benefit quality landlords and quality tenants. The only people this is really going to hurt are the landlords who try to take advantage of things, tenants that are trying to cheat the system, tenants who destroy apartment after apartment, and tenants who aren’t law abiding citizens. I think this will force a few people to follow a better path in life so that they can have a quality place to live.