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Is Your Heat On?

We're hearing from a lot of tenants right now - not everyone has their heat on yet. And it's chilly out there. Summer seems to be ending with a frosty whimper, and for the tenants living in units where the heat hasn't yet been turned on... It's like the ice bucket challenge, without the ice, the bucket, and the positive social impact. Just tenants in their apartments, feeling cold.

So, what's to be done? Lots. Apartment temperatures are not supposed to sink below 67 degrees, whether or not it's still technically summer.  Steps for tenants and landlords, below.

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A Coupla Contract Law Issues

A while back, a tenant brought in a lease saying that if they had a keg party in their home, that they would be fined $500. Now, it makes sense to us why a landlord might want to discourage keggers, (there are actually more effective ways to do so), but this taps into a complex contract law issue: this kind of charge isn't really legal. It's called liquidated damages.

We are in a season where folks are finding unexpected things on their list of security deposit deductions, but this sort of thing can happen year-round. Below, we dive into 2 hand-slappy no-nos, where landlords aren't allowed to charge in the way they think they might be able to. For the folks who read on, tenants will learn to read into parts of your lease that aren't really legal, and landlords will learn more effective ways to get what is reasonable.

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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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