Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Tenant rights may decrease

Elected officials and prominent Madison-area community members have raised concerns about a proposed bill that they say would infringe on the rights of tenants in Wisconsin if adopted.

The new state bill builds upon a similar act passed the Legislature passed in 2011, which prompted the city to pass ordinances to increase the protection of tenants’ rights, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said.

Resnick said Republicans support this
bill in effort to standardize housing practices. He said the bill would create a number of
hardships for tenants by giving more power to owners.


He highlighted one part of the bill, involving parking, which would allow landlords to tow any car violating parking rules, and would result in many parking tickets.  

Resnick said the bill would impact students, especially when it comes to security
deposits. In the bill, landlords would no longer be required to provide tenants with security deposits
that are itemized, he said. This would make it difficult for renters to discuss the security
deposits for fairness, or point out any flaws, Resnick said.

He said the cities that will be most impacted by this bill are Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest urban centers, each with a large college student population.

Tenant Resource Center Director Brenda Konkel also said the bill would have negative impacts for many students.

“A lot of information provided to tenants is just not required to be provided
anymore,” she said. “I think that’s very detrimental for students who are often times first-time
renters and are unaware of various laws and information that they need, and now the
landlord doesn’t have to give it to them.”

Resnick said the bill is following a similar pattern to that of 2011’s
Act 143 in that many city ordinances that were designed to protect student renters
were nullified by the state, he said. Resnick said he lacked optimism for a different
outcome in this case.

Resnick pointed out that in the few areas where the previous laws have been a success is when legislators were shown there is a difference between the rental markets in Madison
versus other cities in Wisconsin. 

According to Konkel, over the last year and a half, there has been a pattern of
passed legislation that infringes on the rights of tenants. She said the most recently proposed bill will change
the rules surrounding rentals more than the previous bills have.

Resnick and Konkel both said the bill is
being rushed through the Legislature. Resnick said much of the public has very little knowledge about this bill. According to
Konkel, the bill was circulated for co-sponsors at 3 p.m. Tuesday, with a hearing planned
at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“It’s a real shame; Madison is about 50 percent renters and nobody knows about it, and it is a
lot of information for people to figure out before Thursday morning at 10.”

Konkel said she thought the bill is likely to pass.

She said the Tenant Resource Center will post information about the bill on their website by Wednesday, and hold a
meeting at the Capitol at 9 a.m. Wednesday to help people understand what is in the bill.

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