Legislators Pass Law to Benefit Landlords
Overturns city regulations on landlords, reduces tenant rights.
A Republican bill to benefit landlords was approved Tuesday by the Senate and sent to GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
The measure, Assembly Bill 771, was backed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association and groups representing landlords and apartment building owners, which are generous campaign contributors to Republican candidates.
The bill sent to Walker would:
- Prohibit local governments from inspecting rental property that is less than eight years old;
- Prohibit local governments from re-inspecting rental property for at least five years if an inspection finds no serious violations, such as electrical, plumbing, rodent, or mold problems, or if any serious violations that are found are corrected in a time period determined by the local government;
- Limit the violations landlords can be cited for to health and safety items, rather than aesthetics;
- Limit the amount of time to 10 days that courts can prevent tenants, such as domestic violence victims, from being evicted. Current law allows judges to delay evictions while a tenant is waiting for emergency assistance;
- Raise the maximum amount a landlord can charge a prospective tenant for a consumer credit report from $20 to $25;
- Prohibit local governments from imposing building and property maintenance fees without first notifying the owner;
- Require renters with disabilities to have medical documentation in order to have a task- or emotional-support animal;
- Make renter eviction records available to the public for at least 10 years;
- Loosen state renovation standards for landlords with historic buildings.
As a whole, the real estate industry contributed almost $2.7 million to Walker and another $1.2 million to current Republican lawmakers between January 2011 and June 2017.
The real estate industry’s top contributors to Walker during this time were:
- Wisconsin Realtors Association political action committee, $101,150
- John and Kathryn Burke, of Milwaukee, owners of Burke Properties, $82,750
- Marcus Hiles, of Grand Prairie, Tex., chief executive officer of WRPS LP, and his wife, Nancy, $71,000.
In addition to direct contributions, the Realtors Association and its affiliate, the Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance, has spent an estimated $660,000 on outside electioneering activities since January 2012, including an estimated $460,000 to support Republican legislative candidates and an estimated $200,000 to support Walker.