Monday, March 12, 2012

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.