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Security Deposit Myths Debunked!

Around Wisconsin, many leases end during the warm months - the months in which it's not too likely to be snowing, icing or raining.  Which means that autumn, along with the beginning of school, is security deposit season.

For the thousands of Madison renters who left their previous rental on August 15, security deposits (or the explanation of how they have been used) are supposed to get to former tenants on September 6. For many tenants, receipt of this letter is an unhappy surprise. 

For the tenants out there, we are debunking the myths that many people have about security deposits - click through to make sure you are as well informed as possible.

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Landlord Regulations Upheld

Before 2013 Wisconsin Act 76 went into effect on 3/1/14, there was an ordinance on the books for the City of LaCrosse. This ordinance said that rental units needed to be inspected every 3 years by building inspection, in order to weed out absentee landlords / slumlords. 

A group of landlords challenged the ordinance, saying that the inspection ordinance violates 2013 Wisconsin Act 76's position against landlord registration. 

On August 27, the local ordinance was upheld! We're interested to see where this takes us, as a state. More information below:

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Renting with Disabilities

Being a tenant with disabilities can be an enormous challenge. Untreated mental illness can lead to homelessness. Lack of ability to earn income can lead to homelessness. Asking for accommodations for a disability can (illegally) lead to homelessness. Being a person with obvious disabilities can (illegally) lead to "nothing being available." It's a tough crowd out there.

Here's are some of the tips we give to tenants with disabilities - things to help, things to think about, things to watch out for. 

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Normal Wear and Tear

Right this very moment, in our office, is a young tenant, trying, for the life of him, to figure out "normal wear and tear." Recently, a landlord called us and urged us very convincingly to do a better job of explaining it.  But it's haaaaard, we say, it's up to a judge, the law doesn't define it very well...

What is "normal wear and tear," you say? Well, Best Beloved, that's the hard part, isn't it?  But today, I'll give it a fair shot.

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Moved Into A Dirty Apartment?

So, August 15th was The Great Day Of Moving here in Madison. Movers had to contend with scarcity of moving trucks, runners in the mini-marathon, construction on East Johnson, and everyone got awards for having survived.

Today, we're looking at the fallout. What happens to tenants who have finally moved into their new apartment, are looking around, and are realizing that it's kind of gross? 

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Five Steps for a Good Moving Day

Today, thousands of Madison tenants will be moving in and out of their apartments. Tenants out there can avoid many expensive and stressful situations by following these tips!

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Madison Moving Week Logistics

Friday is the day when many apartments turn over in Madison. Many tenants are doing the mad dash out and the mad dash in, landlords are trying to get the apartments moderately cleaned in between the dashing tenants, and there's a lot of chaos all over, for this whole week.

Here are some incredibly helpful pieces of information for the movers in the crowd - logistics (construction, traffic, garbage), to make sure moving is a success for you.

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Notice When Ending a Tenancy

Here's something we see pretty regularly here: A tenant comes in and says something like, "I have a lease for a year, and I'd like to stay on. How do I get my landlord to tell me if they're renewing?" Or, similarly, a landlord will say something like, "my tenant hasn't responded to my notice about renewing. How do I find out if they're staying or not?"

Notification is rarely required for people staying on (exceptions further on), is sometimes required for folks ending a tenancy, and is often confusing.  When is it required for you? Read on...

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Notice to End a Term Lease?)

One of the reasons that I'm so excited to be writing this blog series is that I get to answer Those Questions. Those Questions are the ones that our housing counselors get that are so wearily complicated, and clients get so lost in the twists and turns, the if-this-then-thats.  Here, I have the luxury of writing it down so that the complications can be explored.

This is one of Those Questions, sampled from many we've received: Dear TRC, I am a tenant living in an apartment. I have a year long lease going from August 1, 2013 - July 31, 2014, but my lease also says that 60 days' notice is required to end the lease. I want to leave on July 31, but my landlord says I had to give 60 days' notice to end the lease when it says, on July 31. What should I do?

Here are the components of this question:

  • a lease with a term (ie, a year long lease, a 9 month lease, any defined period of time), where beginning dates and end dates on the lease are written down, AND
  • a requirement to give notice to end the lease (could be 60 days, 1 month, 30 days, 45 days, 90 days)

What's the deal? Are those legal? If the lease a defined period of time, doesn't it end when it says it ends? For everyone involved, this can get pretty confusing.  Explanations, with tips for landlords and tenants, below.

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Repairs and Reimbursement

We're getting to the time of year where many tenants in Madison are moving into new rental housing - many changes occur over August 15 of each year here in the city.  The rest of Wisconsin is wise enough to make leases end on all of the days of the year instead of just one incredibly frantic day, but either way, one of the big questions we get from tenants, as they are moving into a new place, is:

"My landlord didn't _____ (clean, paint, repair), can I do it myself and get paid back?"

If you read this blog regularly, the answer shouldn't be a surprise to you: it's complicated.  But there are some ways everyone involved can make it more obvious.

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