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Rent Abatement

When repairs get really bad, many tenants get to a point where they have Had Enough. Some internal line in the sand has been crossed, and all negotiation and reason fly out the window. And they stop paying rent. Which is a terrible idea.

We normally meet these tenants when they are astonished to find an eviction notice at their doors, citing them for unpaid rent. Frankly, eviction hearings are most often the result for tenants who find themselves in the midst of reactive rent withholding, and are shocked to discover that there is actually a way to withhold rent legally, or to reduce rent legally, during the time that repairs have gone un-fixed. If only they had known! 

But you have the opportunity, here in this very post, to learn all the things a person should know about rent withholding and abatement, so that you are as protected as you can be.

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Conversations About Homelessness

While we work on the calls that are still coming in from Moving Day, here are a couple interesting things that have popped up lately.

It seems like there are more public conversations going on lately about homelessness, and we're glad to hear those conversations happening. Many of our clients are facing homelessness as a result of housing problems, so knowing that people, beyond the politicians, are thinking about homelessness... that's a great thing. 

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This Was a Terrible Idea: When the Apartment Fairy Tale Becomes a Thriller

50% of Madison's population are tenants. A good number of those moved this past weekend, with their leases beginning or ending on August 15. But not all new tenants are prancing around their glorious new apartment, and soaking their sore muscles in glowingly lit clawfoot tubs. For some, the fairy tale that might have been true when they signed their lease is anything but, now. This one's for you guys.

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Toss it! What to do with all your moving day garbage

Moving day means that there are SO MANY WAYS to get rid of stuff around Madison, including things that you normally have to pay to get the city to dispose of (tv's, appliances). Here's a list of all the ways you can get all of it gone, as well as the other things (road closures, etc) you should be thinking about if you're moving this week.

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End of the Lease: Protect Your Security Deposit

Here in Madison, we're getting close to the August 15 madness, where a bajillion (it feels like) apartments turn over from one set of tenants to another. For those of you who haven't experienced this, it's mayhem. So we're trying to get all those tenants out there ready to go. 

As a tenant, there are steps you can take to protect your security deposit as your lease is ending. This post is about the ways you can make sure your security deposit is as refundable as possible.

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DCHA Section 8 Waiting List Opens August 4

Update from 8/5/15: The Dane County Housing Authority closed its waiting list at 2:39pm on August 4. In that time, they gathered sufficient applications that it will take at least two years to serve them all.

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The Dane County Housing Authority will open up their Section 8 waiting list on Tuesday, August 4 at 10am!

To apply you will need: 

  • names of all family members
  • dates of birth of all family members
  • social security numbers of all family members
  • income of all family members
  • access to a computer -- all applications must be done through this website: www.dcha.apply4housing.com/
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Renters Insurance

Did you know that usually a landlord's homeowners insurance doesn't cover a tenant's belongings in case of emergency? That if a tornado were to hit, or a fire were to burn the house down, or an upstairs neighbor's pipe burst, it's unlikely that a landlord's insurance would cover your stuff?*

It seems like many tenants don't know how to wade through the terms of an insurance policy, afraid of making a mistake. But when it comes to a renters insurance policy, the biggest mistake a tenant can make is not one to get one at all. Today, I'm putting a bunch of information in one place, hoping that if I break things down, all of you readers out there, who don't have renters insurance, might get a little more information.

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Negligence

Last week, I wrote about mold, and quietly referenced "negligence," something that we talk about a lot here at the TRC, but the laws aren't real clear on. Negligence is a big deal in a lot of repair issues, so today I'm breaking it down. It can be really hard to hold someone financially responsible for a problem they could have prevented, but it's certainly possible, and today we're looking at how to do it.

Spoiler alert: everyone should write more letters. It's a lost art. It'll help you in the long run. Details below.

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Mold

Has anyone else noticed that it's been a super wet June (and now July) here in Wisconsin? So much rain. Our email is flooded (heh) with complaints about water and mold. 

Now, to be clear, I think mold can be devastating - let's say you're a family with kids, the kids have mold-triggered asthma which leads to bronchitis or, worse, pneumonia. Sickness in the kiddos leads to days home from work for the parents, which means that it's hard to pay rent. Suddenly, this little spore becomes a make-it-or-break-it thing. Of course, it's usually less impactful for most of the folks who read this blog, but it can damage carpets, lead to mild sickness, render furniture unusable. Let's look at some of the steps to deal with mold.

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Aging and Abilities in Rental Housing

Aging is tricky, amiright? For folks that are older, the aging process is uneven, different for everyone, and eventually leads to a deterioration of physical and/or mental capacity. The question of where and how to live becomes a complex issue for almost everyone who goes through this deterioration.

So, let's say you're a landlord. And you have tenants who are aging, some less gracefully than others. Maybe you manage a complex that's mostly dedicated to seniors (ages 55 and up), or you're managing a complex that has a higher than normal ratio of seniors that choose to live there. One of the questions you might have, which is frequently asked by landlords in our Housing Law Seminars,  is what to do about people who are aging out (or already aged out) of regular rental housing. Whose abilities (or resources) are less than what is needed to live independently, and how a landlord should deal with that. 

It's a difficult question, but let's dig in, shall we?

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