Lawmakers heard testimony Thursday on sweeping legislation which, among numerous provisions, could make it easier for Wisconsin landlords to evict tenants.
The state Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate held a public hearing on the measure (AB 568) authored by Representative Robert Brooks (R-Saukville).
Among the many provisions in the recently introduced bill, tenants could be evicted for “criminal activity,” even if they’re not arrested.
Brooks said that would ensure tenant safety “by expediting the process of by which those involved in criminal or drug-related activity that threatens the health and safety of those around them are removed from the property.”
“This bill really contains no consideration of the seriousness of the offense, how it affects other residents, the extent of participation by the leaseholder,” said Vicky Selkowe with Legal Action Wisconsin.
Selkowe also said landlords wouldn’t need to provide much detail on alleged criminal activity.
“The bill contains language that the notice must state the basis of issuance, however I can tell you we see all the time where that is filled out on the notice, it can be incredibly vague.”
But Tristan Petit, a Milwaukee attorney representing landlords in southeastern Wisconsin, said judges don’t take kindly to “frivolous” eviction attempts.
“In . . . all the counties I practice in, if we don’t have the detail – the who, what where, when, why – that case is dismissed,” Petit said.
Petit said current law doesn’t allow landlords to evict tenants who pose a danger to other tenants or property staff. He said the bill provides a good solution for that.
The wide-ranging bill also limits local governments ability to register landlords, regulate rental housing and historic structures, and require code upgrades when buildings are sold. Another provision repeals any local sprinkler codes for multifamily housing that are stricter than the state law.