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Negotiation 101

A tenant called recently, deeply and powerfully upset.  The landlord had put a camera outside her house, and she was convinced that it was filming her.  As it turns out, the landlord was filming the courtyard because there had been a small crime there recently, and he wanted to do his best to keep his residents safe.  The tenant could have avoided months of turmoil if she had felt like she had good tools for knowing how to communicate with her landlord.  In fact, so many of the tenant-landlord problems that we see could be dealt with very effectively if the tenants and landlords could just communicate better with one another.  Of course, you have options if the talking isn't successful (small claims court, and complaints to DATCP), but sometimes it’s a good idea to give it a try.  But how?

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Small Claims Court Tips

The end result of many tenant-landlord disputes is small claims court.  Evictions and money suits for amounts under $10,000 are both handled in small claims court, making it the place where landlord-tenant arguments end up if there aren't any other negotiation options.  Many people come in fearing the small claims process, but it doesn't have to be that way.  

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E-mail Eviction Notice Scam Making Headlines

We posted last week about an email scam telling folks that their landlord is evicting them.  It's making headlines!

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Beware of E-mail Eviction Scam!

Someone is sending Wisconsin residents false eviction notices by e-mail. Consumer Protection released a notice today warning Wisconsin residents against the malicious software that can attack them if they open these message.

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Get It in Writing

At the beginning of each tenant-landlord relationship, the landlord and tenant are in the honeymoon phase. The tenant is eager to move in from wherever they’ve been, and the landlord is happy to have the home filled with someone who will regularly be paying rent. Early on, it’s easy to work things out, and it’s hard to see how that could possibly go wrong.

Here at the TRC, we see it go wrong. Tenants and landlords come to us saying that they had a spoken agreement with the other person, but now, that person isn’t doing what he/she said he/she would do. Tenants have concerns about landlords not making repairs; landlords have concerns about tenants not following a payment agreement… Everyone has concerns about roommates. Before things go sideways, it’s important to protect yourself, just in case.

Like Hansel and Gretel, the best way to protect yourself in these situations is to have a trail. Only for tenants and landlords, it should be a paper trail, not stones or crumbs. Make sure to have something in writing about all the agreements that you make. And it doesn’t have to be confrontational! Here’s how:

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Iron Chef Sponsors, Judges and Chefs Needed!

Everyone's favorite TRC fundraiser is back - but this time, it's BAKED!!  The Tenant Resource Center is planning its annual spring fundraiser for April 4th!  As always,  its the community that makes the work we do a success - we can't do it without you!  So, here's how you can help!

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You Still Have Rights! Let's talk about the new laws

One of the comments that we hear most frequently here at the TRC is, “well, I guess the [other party] has all the rights.” Landlords say it about tenants, and tenants say it about landlords, but like most things, the truth is way more complex.

The goal of tenant landlord laws is to have some equitable balance of power between tenants and landlords.  Depending on who is in charge politically (folks more inclined to see a tenant’s perspective, or those more inclined to identify with the landlord), the balance shifts.  But it’s never entirely one-sided, and those who want to be given rights have to stand up for them.

So, landlords and tenants, this is your call to action.  The laws have changed, yes, but you still have rights, the other party still has rights, and it’s all of our responsibility to have some sense of what they are and take action based on that knowledge.  That’s why we are here at the TRC – to help you understand what is on the books, and to walk you through possible solutions. 

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New Tenant Landlord Laws Go Into Effect at Midnight

Tenants, Landlords, prepare to be confused.  Call, email or stop in!!!

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Governor Signs SB 179

Today Governor Walker signs SB 179 (Now 2013 Wis Act 76) into law. This is the third piece of legislation in two years to drastically alter tenant landlord law, for the most part removing tenant protections and local controls over rental housing practices. This law makes over 20 Madison ordinances unenforceable and changes over 20 statewide laws, resulting in over 75 law changes since 2011 Wisconsin Act 108.

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TRC Silent Auction and Fundraiser Tonight!

Brink Lounge, 701 East Washington Ave., 5 - 7 pm . . . check out all the goodies and thank the donors!  Suggested donation $25, but everyone welcome regardless of ability to pay.  Come help us celebrate not getting our funding cut!

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