2013 Wisconsin Act 76, which makes several changes to Landlord & Tenant Law in Wisconsin, was signed on December 12, 2013 by Governor Scott Walker. The law generally becomes effective as of March 1, 2014. This new law, which makes sweeping changes, was initially created to fix many of the unintended consequences from the Landlord’s Omnibus law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 143, that was rushed through the legislative process in only a month’s time.
The purpose of several of the provisions of Act 76 are to speed up the eviction process. Sec. 799.206 and sec. 799.20(4), Wis. Stats, have been amended to require that all contested hearings in small claims actions (evictions, garnishments, replevins etc.) must be scheduled within 30 days of the return date/initial appearance.
Further, personal property of evicted tenants can now be treated the same as the abandoned property of tenants who left the premises voluntarily. That is, landlords may presume that a tenant has abandoned personal property – and dispose of it immediately – even if the tenant is evicted, so long as the landlord has properly notified the tenant that the landlord does not intend to store the property.
The Act also prohibits enactment of local ordinances, or invalidates existing ones, that require landlords to communicate to the tenant or to the municipality information that is not required to be communicated by state or federal law.
Act 76 contains numerous other revisions to Landlord & Tenant Law in Wisconsin. Given that Landlord & Tenant Law is an extremely complicated area of law and violations by landlords generally are considered “unfair trade practices” and subject to double damages and recovery of reasonable attorney fees under Wisconsin law, it is vital that landlords and tenants discuss how the new law impacts them with a knowledgeable attorney.
Neuberger, Wakeman, Lorenz, Griggs and Sweet has served clients from our offices in Watertown, Lake Mills, and Waterloo since 1922. Our firm regularly serves clients located in Dodge County, Jefferson County, Dane County, Columbia County, Washington County, and Waukesha County, the communities of the Watertown, Lake Mills, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Reeseville, Ixonia, Oconomowoc, Sullivan, Jefferson, Cambridge, Columbus, Deerfield, Marshall, Juneau, Fort Atkinson, Beaver Dam, Hartford, Madison, Sun Prairie, Monona Grove, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton, Delafield, Pewaukee, Dousman, Hartland, Brookfield, and Waukesha, and all of Wisconsin.