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Wisconsin Passes State Laws to Protect Residents and Blocks Problematic Local Ordinances

Protect Residents

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker (R) signed AB 568, a rental housing-specific bill that, among many things, balances the rights of residents and blocks onerous municipal ordinances.  Some of the highlights of the bill include the following:

• A property owner can terminate a tenancy without giving the violating resident an opportunity to remedy the default – If the resident, a member of their household, or a guest engages in any criminal activity that threatens health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents or employees, or is drug-related.

• A person could be guilty of criminal trespass to a dwelling if he/she were to enter or remain in a dwelling without the permission of a person who is lawfully on the premises, or of the owner of the property if no one is lawfully present there, regardless of whether the dwelling is currently occupied.

• Alters abandoned property rules, giving a resident seven days to claim property left behind before a property owner is allowed to dispose of it.

• Requires any inspections ordinance require a showing of “good cause” for registration, limits fees localities may charge related to inspections and occupancy, and requires all licensing ordinances apply equally to all properties, including owner-occupied. In addition, the law prevents municipalities from enforcing sprinkler ordinances that are stricter than the Uniform Commercial Building Code.

It is unclear whether the law would result in municipalities refunding rental registration license fees. However, a city attorney in Wausau is planning to recommend that the city repeal its existing ordinance and not pursue further enforcement.

Source: Wisconsin General Assembly, WSAU Local News Radio, City of Wausau