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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

 4:48 PM 

Assembly Dems call tenant-landlord measure a "horrible, horrible bill"

The Assembly is debating a revised bill from the Senate that would give more control to landlords in evictions, vehicle towing and tenant repayment for damages.

The Assembly has already passed its version of the wide-ranging bill, but is taking up a heavily amended Senate version today. Due to a technical amendment added by the Assembly author, the bill would require concurrence from the Senate.

The original bill would have shortened the timeframe for a tenant to appear in court when being evicted from a residence and allowed the court summons for eviction to be delivered by regular mail, rather than in person. It also would have allowed rental agreements to stipulate a tenant could be evicted if a crime is committed on the property. The original bill also allowed a landlord to tow an illegally parked vehicle without police first issuing a citation for the violation. Also included in the original bill were a range of prohibitions on local ordinances regulating landlord behavior and limiting tenant responsibility for damages.

The amended version of the bill made some significant changes to those provisions, eliminating a few entirely. The substitute amendment would only allow evictions in crimes where the tenant was not the victim of a crime and would allow domestic abuse situations to be used as a defense to eviction actions in court. The amended version would also require eviction to be delivered by certified mail and extends the timeline for eviction proceedings in court in comparison to the original bill.

Democrats decried the bill on the Assembly floor, with many representatives saying the Senate-version of the bill still guts tenant protections and takes the matter out of the hands of local officials.

"Right now, Wausau is discussing a possible landlord licensure program and this is an attempt to control blight in our city," said Rep. Mandy Wright, D-Wausau. "My concern here is that if we pass this bill, we will be overriding and preempting my city to create ordinances to solve its own problem."

Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, and Rep. Corey Mason, D-Racine, have indicated they will abstain from the vote on concurrence.


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