Under new law, Wisconsin landlords have more power to evict tenants

Posted March 23, 2016

Landlords in River Falls and the rest of Wisconsin now have more power to evict tenants who engage in criminal activity due to a bill that was signed on Feb. 29 by Gov. Scott Walker.

Senators Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) and Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) introduced the bill in the Wisconsin State Legislature on Dec. 10 and it was co-sponsored by Representatives Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) and Scott Allen (R-Waukesha). The legislation addressed a number of issues in addition to giving landlords more rights.

Before Walker signed the bill, a landlord could evict tenant for reasons such as the rent not getting paid, treating the property poorly, or breaking the agreements of the rental contract.

The Republican bill now allows landlords to evict a tenant if that individual, a roommate, or a guest of that property participates in any illegal activity, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. If a tenant is a victim of a criminal act, he or she is excused from the new law.

According to the text of the bill, the tenants are subject to eviction if the criminal activity threatens the health, safety or the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property of the other tenants, or if a tenant participates in drug-related criminal activity on or around the property. Once the landlord notifies the affected tenant, the tenant has five days or fewer to move out of the property.

In the notice, the landlord has to say why they are evicting the tenant.

Boles Property Management, Best Key Properties and Campusview Real Estate are three of the main rental property owners in River Falls. Representatives for the three businesses were unable to comment before the deadline of the story.

For the first two years at UWRF, students are required to live on campus, but juniors and seniors have the option of living off-campus and many students take advantage of that option. Luke Bowe, a senior in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, has lived off campus for three years. He said he thinks the law will be good for River Falls.

“It has good and bad intentions. I see it as for felonies it makes sense to have it,” Bowe said. “If it was with less severe cases such as underage drinking I don’t think it is good, but your privacy could be in danger with having landlords wanting to check in more unexpectedly. All around, I’m for it.”

The previous law required a landlord to present a 14-day warning telling a tenant to stop the alleged illegal behavior.