Landlord Eviction Frequently Asked Questions

rental agreement documentAs experienced real estate attorneys in Wisconsin, we know that owning a rental property can feel complicated at times, especially when a tenant is not paying their rent on time or has left their belongings in the unit. While the solution to these issues may seem straightforward, taking the wrong steps to resolve these eviction problems can cost a landlord more time and money.

How much notice do I have to give a tenant?

In Wisconsin, the exact amount of notice given to a tenant depends on the lease terms. There are three types of written termination notices that should be delivered: 5-day, 14-day, and 28-day.

If the landlord needs to evict a tenant (but not for a breach of lease) and the lease is monthly (month-to-month), the amount of notice is typically 28 days. The amount of notice changes if the eviction is due to a breach of lease; in these situations, a landlord can deliver a 14-day notice that does not give the tenant the option to pay the rent and remedy the situation.

If the lease is a longer-term arrangement, the landlord must provide a 5-day notice that gives the tenant the chance to remedy the situation (i.e. pay rent). If the tenant makes reparations, the tenant may stay. However, if the tenant misses another rent deadline, a 14-day notice can be given by the landlord.

In either of these situations, if a tenant does not leave the property, a landlord cannot remove the tenant. Instead, contact a lawyer to follow proper eviction procedures. The landlord also cannot lock out the tenant, remove the tenants’ items, or shut off utilities.

Can I evict a tenant during the winter?

A tenant can typically be evicted any time of the year, even in winter. However, there may be special circumstances where a tenant cannot be evicted in winter, such as with federally subsidized housing or in the case of elderly housing (consult a local lawyer to be sure). If there is cause for eviction, contact a lawyer to determine if evicting the tenant is legal in winter and for the appropriate legal process.

Can I remove a tenant?

A landlord cannot remove a tenant from the unit; only a law enforcement agent can do so after an eviction notice has been granted.

If a landlord does decide to evict a tenant, legal notices and/or eviction proceedings should be initiated.  Notices must be delivered in person or via a delivery method specified by law. To make sure notices are delivered correctly and on schedule, contact a lawyer for information. Eviction from a rental property is a legal process and must be filed in court.

What if the tenant leaves their items in the rental unit?

A landlord can only remove items from the rental unit IF a clause is included in the rental agreement that the landlord does not have to store abandoned property; consult a lawyer to make sure the rental agreement used is legal in Wisconsin and is complete. Unless a landlord is completely clear that the clause is included, items should not be removed; the landlord can be held responsible for the items.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

We have joint custody. Who gets to make decisions about school?

kids walking to school when parents with joint custody disagreeIn Wisconsin, the beginning of the school year is fast approaching and so is a common child custody question: who gets to make decisions about my child’s education? In a sole custody situation, the answer is clear. All decisions, including school matters, are made by the parent or guardian that is granted sole custody. However, when custody is shared, questions about which school to go to, who pays for school fees and tuition, and who is responsible for making vital education decisions is not always so obvious.

This is one of those situations that should be addressed as soon as possible, and the first attempts at resolution should be made through conversations between the parents. For school choice, try to address the issue the spring before because legal action is a process that takes time; it can take months to get a court date and resolve the issue. For issues concerning tuition, school fees, or other education-related expenses, the division of costs typically follows the percentage of custody; if custody is divided 75/25, a $100 fee would be split up to a $75 and $25 responsibility. There are exceptions, however, and situations where the answer is somewhat ambiguous.

If the relationship between parents is somewhat amicable (though there is still disagreement), try mediation. In some divorces and courts, mediation is a required action before litigation. Mediation is the process of meeting with a neutral third-party (called a mediator) to come to a mutual resolution of important matters.  For the process to be successful, both parties need to agree on those issues. The advantage of the process is that it can be significantly cheaper than going through litigation. Mediation meetings can also be set up on a schedule that works for both parties, as opposed to court dates that are set by the court system. Matters of mediation are also not a matter of public record. To initiate mediation, contact a local experienced law firm that offers the service.

When both parties are at opposite ends of the issue, the matter may be decided in the court system. Contact a lawyer to find out options for resolution and get their recommendation for the next step. The court typically bases their decision on many factors, such (but not limited to) as financial situation of each parent, the child’s current situation, how “vested” the child is in a school system, location (of parents and the school), any special needs, and the rating of the school system(s). The court system may appoint an attorney to act as a guardian ad litem to make a recommendation. In some situations, the court can alter custodial decisions, such as changing from joint custody to sole custody for future educational decisions. An experienced family lawyer can walk the parent through the process and ensure that due diligence is taken on all aspects of the process needed for resolution.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

5 Common Worker’s Compensation Claim Myths

worker who is working and may get injured on the jobAlong with the pain and inconvenience of a workplace injury, there are a million emotions and misunderstandings that come with being injured at work. We’ve talked to clients who have been hurt at work, heard their worries, and have assisted them through some of the most difficult worker’s compensation issues. Unfortunately, the situation can be complicated when they receive incorrect worker’s compensation information; that’s why we’ve compiled a list of common workplace injury myths that can hinder the progress of the workman’s compensation process—and the resolution.

Myth: Your employer has to make a mistake or act negligently for you to have a worker’s compensation claim.

A workman’s compensation claim stems from any injury received while working; your employer does not need to make an error for a claim to be made. To that end, report any injury that occurs on the job, such as a wound or back injury, even if you think it may heal on its own.

Myth: I have to file a claim.

A worker’s only responsibility is to report the injury to their employer and seek medical attention (more information can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website). Keep all paperwork related to the injury, including paperwork received from the doctor or healthcare facility and healthcare provider. From there, the employer should file a claim with their insurance provider or claim administrator.

Myth: I’m going to lose my job because of an injury.

This is one of the most common worker’s compensation myths—and a misunderstanding that can slow down the recovery process. Put simply, many workers work through the pain because they think that they can lose their job because of their injury. However, employers are not allowed to retaliate against an employee for any reason, including a worker’s compensation claim. In Wisconsin, an employer must have a reason for refusing to rehire a worker to their previous or another appropriate position. (A local, experienced lawyer can give you more information about what an employer can or can’t do when an injured worker can’t work for a period of time.)

Myth: There’s nothing I can do if I am denied coverage.

After an injury, it’s common for the insurance company to initially cover medical expenses and all related expenses. In certain circumstances, however, the insurance companies require employees to submit to an “independent medical examination,” which often results in discontinued coverage. The insurer is unlikely to continue to cover expenses unless a hearing is requested with Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development. (This is another reason to contact a lawyer to assist with the worker’s compensation process.)

Myth: I have to sue my employer to get compensation.

An employee needs to report an injury; there is no lawsuit involved to get compensation. Typically, an employee reports the injury and seeks medical attention. The employer contacts the insurance carrier or claim administrator. Typically, the insurance company compensates the employee; if there are any complications throughout the process, a local experienced lawyer can assist with a favorable resolution.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.