Blog | Tenant Resource Center



TRC is Once Again Serving Dane County

On July 1, 2017, the Tenant Resource Center resumed housing counseling services for communities in Dane County outside of Madison, ending a service gap created by 2015 county budget cuts. Thanks to additional funding, the tenant rights institution has added staff, increased their call capacity, and are now able to help all of Wisconsin.

Services restored to all of Dane County: 

Housing counseling. The Tenant Resource Center gives free information on rental rights and responsibilities to tenants and landlords statewide including all of Dane County. Anyone interested in counseling can call, email or visit the office. The Tenant Resource Center has sample letters, forms, and brochures on most major topics and provides services in Spanish and Hmong.

Mediation. The Tenant Resource Center administers a program where certified mediators facilitate negotiations between tenants and landlords during Small Claims Court eviction hearings. These agreements are often payment plans that allow the tenant to remain in the apartment or move-out dates that give tenants time to arrange a new home. If the terms of the agreement are met, the tenant will not have an eviction on his or her court record. Mediated agreements have the same enforceability as those written by the court commissioner. 

Education and outreach. The Tenant Resource Center provides outreach and education through local workshops and seminars. The organization’s experienced presenters give informative talks around Wisconsin, are available for media interviews and participate in community coalitions. The Tenant Resource Center also provides brochures and teaches a biannual Housing Law Seminar series for landlords and service providers.

The Tenant Resource Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting positive relationships between tenants and landlords throughout Wisconsin. The Tenant Resource Center provides information and referrals, education about rental rights and responsibilities and access to conflict resolution, empowering the community to obtain and maintain quality affordable housing.

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City Info on Downtown Moving Days

Moving on the Isthmus is about to begin - not everyone moves on August 15th - but most do!  Here's some information you may need!

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The Big Share is Tomorrow!

Hello out there! Do you know what's on March 7th? Tomorrow is the Big Share,* and it is nothing less than the TRC's goofiest day of the year

Here are the basics. Tomorrow, we will be:
- Posting Very Silly Pictures all day on our Facebook page. TRC Staff takes over our Facebook page, and badly photoshops me into all kinds of crazy situations. (Some previews are already on Facebook, including this gem, in which I was apparently a world-famous singer in 1985). And it's not just me getting badly photoshopped into world events! Other well-known Madison faces will be appear - just keep tabs on our Facebook page.
- Giving away prizes each hour to those who donate on our Big Share page. Starting at 6am tomorrow, ending at 11:59pm, we will give away prizes hour by hour in the 13 designated Big Share Hours. For each hour, we will draw the name of one or more TRC donor (every sized donation counts!), and that person will get a prize. Keep track of it all on Facebook, and donate through the Big Share to get credit
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Aw, Shucks

Hello, lovelies.  

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For Landlords: Screening Applicants Based on Criminal History

Hey Y'all! HUD put out some new guidelines about using criminal history in housing transactions, and it looks like a big departure from where Wisconsin's been headed, lately. I'm walking through it today, on behalf of landlords trying to sort out what's what.

On June 1, I did this for tenants! Here's the second part, for the landlords. 

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For Tenants: New HUD Rules About Criminal History

Hello, Best Internet Beloveds! Long time, no write. Let's change that, shall we? And how about we start it off with a good 'ole two-parter.

In April, HUD came out with some "guidance" (their word) about using criminal history to screen applicants. When landlords use criminal history when choosing tenants, HUD says that's likely not legal. HUD has a whole thought process about why that is, and since we're not attorneys, we'll break the logic down for you, and you can draw your own conclusions.

This post is about how these rules might impact tenants, who may be living in housing or searching for housing, and the next part in this series will be for landlords, and how they might navigate these new rules.

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You Blew Us Away!

Last week, we had an amazing fundraiser. In order to understand what these mean to us, you have to imagine the scene around here. Clients tell us such rough stories (sitting in the inbox right now: "we are a family of five and have no bathroom," "we've been given a non-renewal notice and can't find new housing," "we can't make it work," "we're about to be homeless"). Such sadness. Such inhumane conditions out there.

And our amazing staff and volunteers - we listen, we give available solutions, we help draft letters. We come up with strategies in impossible situations. We are sad, too. We fight, often off the clock, against these inhumane conditions. On a lot of days, it can feel like a losing battle.

But last Friday. Woah, you guys. Last Friday. So many people. Such joy in being a community together. I'm getting teary just writing about it. 

Our Iron Chef event on April 1 was the best we've ever had. The food was AH-MAY-ZING. The chefs and judges worked so hard, and besides that, are truly cool folks. We earned more than we've ever earned, and it made us feel like you guys want us to keep fighting. It felt really good to hear that. 

Here are the incredible people who made this event possible:

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New Tenant Landlord Laws Summarized (Eff. 3/2/16)

This is the 5th change to tenant landlord laws in Wisconsin in 4.5 years. We at the Tenant Resource Center are exhausted from trying to keep up . . . the governor passed the bill on 2/29, it was published on 3/1 and went into effect on 3/2. The laws became available electronically on 3/17 (last Thursday) and here's our latest and greatest summary.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Hey Best Beloveds, we are doing something completely goofy this week. The Big Share is tomorrow, (Community Shares of Wisconsin's day of giving), and TRC staff (coughMEcough) has taken over our Facebook page (as well as our executive director's) to post bad photoshop photos, and it's pretty knee-slapping, I-might-have-peed-a-little-bit, funny.

We're carrying it through tomorrow, and we want you to be a part of it. Bonus points (and bonus prizes) if you donate $10+ during our Times of Most Need:

  • 5-6am: Are you an early bird? We need just one person to donate $10+ on our Big Share page in order to have an entry into that hour’s drawing. If your donation is selected, our non-profit would win $250! Donor Prize: $20 Marigold Kitchen Gift Certificate
  • 8-9am: We’re trying to get as many individuals as possible to donate on our Big Share page during this hour! If you donate $10+, and we have the most individual donors, we could win $500! Donor Prizes: 1 lb of Just Coffee, 1 private phone call with Brenda Konkel (this is your chance to ask our Executive Director your burning housing counseling question), a $25 gift certificate to Madison Sourdough.
  • 5-6pm: We’re trying to get as many individuals as possible to donate on our Big Share page  during this hour! If you donate $10+, and we have the most individual donors, we could win $500! Donor Prizes: a $20 gift certificate to One Barrel Brewing, 1 private phone call with Brenda Konkel (this is your chance to ask our Executive Director your burning housing counseling question).
  • 7-8pm: We need just one person to donate $10+ on our Big Share page in order to have an entry into that hour’s drawing. If your donation is selected, our non-profit would win $250! Donor Prize: a custom bad photo shop photo print based on your photos.
  • 9-10pm: We need just one person to donate $10+ on our Big Share page in in order to have an entry into that hour’s drawing. If your donation is selected, our non-profit would win $250! Donor Prize: a custom bad photo shop photo print based on your photos.
  • 11pm-midnight: Are you a night owl? We need just one person to donate $10+ on our Big Share page in order to have an entry into that hour’s drawing. If your donation is selected, our non-profit would win $250! Donor Prize: a custom bad photo shop photo print based on your photos.

Pretty please, let us know when you plan to donate? We'll send you a letter mooning over your finer qualities.

Some examples from the last week, and a teaser about what's to come tomorrow! March 1 is the Big Share! And March 1 is also:

BK_attends_feast_of_st_david.jpg
Chopin's birthday! (Brenda was there, 
and brought a cake)
The Feast of St. David! (Brenda was there)
The Day that Nebraska was signed into
statehood in 1867! (Brenda was 
there)
National Pig Day! (Brenda was there)
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Rent To Own

You know that one great-uncle, who's out of sync enough with your family culture as to be almost completely irrelevant? For us, in the world of tenant-landlord law, Rent-To-Own contracts are like that. 

We often say that Rent-To-Own contract are not covered under tenant-landlord law, but really, the "Rent" part often does fall under tenant-landlord law, even while the "to-Own" part doesn'tWis. Stat. 704 explicitly says, "An agreement for transfer of possession of only personal property is not a lease" and ATCP 134 excludes a "contract of sale" from applying their administrative code. 

However, we live to give here at the TRC, and we think folks should understand the components of Doing This Properly. So today, I'm attempting to explain what people typically mean when they say they "Rent-to-Own," how to do it well, and what to look for when the schnitzel hits the fan.

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