Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Landlords have 180 days to install locks

Madison landlords will now have an additional four months to comply with a proposed city ordinance mandating double locks on housing.

The Landlord-Tenant Issues Subcommittee approved a 180-day substitute ordinance Thursday, extending the original 60-day ordinance in an attempt to give landlords a more reasonable time frame for installing new locks.

The proposed ordinance, created by alders Mike Verveer, District 4, and Judy Olson, District 6, would require landlords of buildings containing two or more housing units to install a positive-locking guarded-latch lock with an approved self-closing device, as well as a lock to all common area interior doors, shared laundry and storage areas. It would also require housing to be equipped with doorbells, intercoms or effective buzzer systems.


The time frame of the proposed ordinance was extended largely because some members of the community and Housing Committee believed many landlords in the city would not be able to comply with the new ordinance within 60 days.

Committee member Rosemary LeTourneau expressed concern over the added expense to landlords to meet these requirements.

“For building-owners’ sake, we should make this fair. They’re facing upwards of $5,000 to bring buildings up to code, and we should give them more time,” LeTourneau said.

Olson commented on the intent of adding these requirements.

“We’re envisioning a doorbell system that makes the locks work better. It would just have to be something as simple as a doorbell, and not necessarily an intercom,” Olson said.

Olson also noted a doorbell alone may be safer, since it does not give tenants the option of blindly buzzing in unknown visitors.

During the meeting, LeTourneau expressed concern that tenants propping open doors would defeat the purpose of the added locks.

“The ordinance should include some punitive damages for propping open doors,” LeTourneau said.

Though most people in attendance at the meeting seemed to agree, they pointed out that it would be difficult to enforce due to the lack of evidence over which particular individuals prop open doors.

The discussion also produced the idea that the Associated Students of Madison create a campaign educating student residents on the dangers of leaving doors open.

Members of the Housing Committee expressed unanimous support on the necessity of safety features on buildings. They do not anticipate any further controversy over the requirements.

“This is a no-brainer,” Verveer said. “This is something that has been overlooked for far too long, and the time is more than ripe to correct this inequity.”

Verveer also brought to attention the recent sexual assaults that prompted these requirements.

“You can’t put a price on safety,” Verveer said.

Despite the shared sentiment over the need for these requirements, the committee encountered difficulties over how to approach apartment buildings that share entries with businesses.

Forcing doors to have locks would interfere with business practices, according to business owners.

It is estimated that one-third of the buildings in the Bassett neighborhood would need updating. This example may represent the entire city, according to committee members.

“It’s probably going to be the older, smaller buildings, but we’ll have to play it out and see what happens,” said Steve Beckmann of J & K Lock and Security.

Ald. Austin King, District 8, brought to attention the low priority the proposed ordinance gives to three-level flat buildings.

“Doors that lead to the second and third floors are more than often unlocked, and these floors would have to be covered under this ordinance,” King said.

King and Verveer told of receiving the all-too-common complaint of homeless persons sleeping in these unlocked entries, a problem the ordinance could help alleviate.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *