Monday, March 12, 2012

More details on how SB 466 / AB 561 is a complete mess

From Brenda Konkel...

After working at the Tenant Resource Center since 1991, I have no idea what the laws will be if AB561 passes. It is full of inconsistencies, items that are unclear and unintended or unstated consequences.

Example 1: How is this going to work?

"A landlord shall provide to a new residential tenant when the tenant commences his or her occupancy of the premises a standardized information check-in sheet that contains an
itemized description of the condition of the premises at the time of check-in."

The very next sentence reads.

"The tenant shall be given 7 days from the date the tenant commences his or her occupancy to complete the check-in sheet and return it to the landlord"

So, who fills in the check in sheet, the landlord or the tenant? If both, how does that work?

Example 2: What does this mean?
"704.95 Practices regulated by the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection. Practices in violation of this chapter may also constitute unfair methods of competition or unfair trade practices under s. 100.20. However, the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection may not issue and order or promulgate a rule under s. 100.20 that changes any right or duty arising from this chapter."

Generally speaking, 704 says things like the tenant has the right to exclusive possession of the property. Then DATCP rules say that the landlord has to give 12 hours notice to enter. Would that kind of rule, since it changes a right (right to enter?) or duty, no longer be able to be promulgated? What kind of rules would they be able to promulgate? Only rules that are not mentioned in 704?

There's more, there is much more. This bill is terrible.

Stay tuned for yet more details on how this bill is going to make life more difficult for tenants and clog the courts with unnecessary litigation...

SB 466 has been placed on the Senate Calendar for tomorrow

This bill, which will have many negative consequences for tenants, has been scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor tomorrow.

The bill may unintentionally remove tenants’ entitlement to double damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees for money illegally withheld from security deposits or for failure to return security deposits within 21 days.

The bill prohibits tenants from contacting a building inspector to register a repair problem before they have first given their landlord written notification of the problem.

The bill would overturn a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in Baierl v. McTagger, which determined that one illegal non-standard rental provision in a lease will render the entire lease invalid. The bill would thus remove the only extant disincentive for landlords against including illegal non-standard rental provisions in a lease. Landlords could include a non-standard rental provision saying that they will evict tenants or increase their rent for calling the police or emergency services. Such provisions are designed to intimidate tenants.

The bill allows property left behind to be taken at the landlord’s discretion. At the public hearings for the bill, several attorneys explained that, in the event that the landlord withheld property that the tenant had left behind unintentionally (i.e., not as garbage), there would be many lawsuits over their ability to take this property.

You can sign a petition against the bill here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

AB 561 to be voted on tomorrow morning

The anti-tenant bill AB 561 has been put on the agenda for the Assembly’s Housing Executive Committee Meeting tomorrow at 10 am. The bills’ authors have made some cosmetic changes to this disaster of a bill but it still has major problems.

This bill cannot be fixed!

Sign the petition against it here.