Wisconsin Renters Face New Rules

Some new rules are in store for Wisconsin’s renters, and there are a handful of them.

With Madison historically providing tenant protections over the years, renters are advised to take a look at which protections remain, and which have been struck, tenant advocates said.

“I’m confused about the whole situation right now,” said renter Pader Lor.

Lor was at Madison’s Tenant Resource Center on Tuesday in hopes of learning more about his rights as a tenant.

“That’s the reason why we’re here today,” said Lor. “I don’t really understand what my rights are and what the landlord’s rights are.”

After being asked to vacate his apartment for a noise complaint, Lor said his landlord continues to ask for rent money on his current lease.

“We need a place to live and we’re all just trying to get through life,” Lor said. “For us, we just want a place to call home.”

But a new state law is changing the landscape of landlord-tenant rules, which critics said could create more confusion.

Renters in Wisconsin can expect a variety of new rules ranging from issues with social security numbers and arrest records to security deposits, which are no longer limited to one month’s rent, as it has been in Madison.

“I don’t think any landlords are going to change much,” said landlord Tom Ripple. “And I’m not going to say, ‘Aha! I’m going to charge two months rent security deposit.’ Not going to happen.”

Ripple said the free market itself will have more of an effect than the state’s new rules.

“We want to win,” Ripple said. “The way we win is when we have you as a customer.”

Critics of the law said the low vacancy rate naturally shifts rights to the landlord, leaving tenants at a disadvantage.

“So it’s definitely already a landlord’s market,” said Brenda Konkel, with the Tenant Resource Center. “And the free market isn’t going to fix this one until we build more affordable housing.”

For more information on the new law, including a list of new changes, go to the Tenant Resource Center’s website at www.tenantresourcecenter.org.