Written by Attorney Jennifer Hayden of Petrie + Pettit
The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ Stay-At-Home Order, so I can send notices terminating tenancy and file evictions, right?
Ahhh, no. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision is narrowly tailored to state that it is finding Emergency Order 28 to be unenforceable and focused much of its ire on “the assertion of power by one unelected official, Andrea Palm.” Conversely, it is Governor Evers’ Emergency Order 15 that restricts the ability of a Landlord to issue a notice, bring an action or file a writ unless the Landlord completes an affidavit stating its related to an imminent risk of serious physical harm to another person and that order has not been ruled on by the Wisconsin Supreme Court (You can read the decision here in its full glory:
But I Can Issue a Notice Terminating Tenancy for the Non-Payment of Rent on May 27, 2020, right?
Ummm, maybe. If your property is impacted by the CARES Act you are prohibited from issuing a notice terminating tenancy for the nonpayment of rent until July 25, 2020 and the notice you use at that point for the non-payment of rent has to be a thirty day notice and can’t include any charges for late fees (see our prior blog article on this topic).
We also still have the DATCP rule prohibiting Landlords from charging late fees, so any notice should not include the non-payment of late fees (see our prior blog article on the DATCP rule).
Nothing at the state or federal level has prohibited you from sending tenants who aren’t paying rent a letter or invoice reminding the tenants of the balance due as long as it doesn’t threaten to terminate the tenancy.
Finally, although not specifically related to the ability to issue notices and file evictions, keep in mind that the Stay at Home Order is still in play for the City of Milwaukee (see our prior article on the City of Milwaukee STAY AT Home Order). That order in Section 4, Prohibited Activities states: “A landlord or rental property manager shall not enter a leased residential rental premises unless a maintenance emergency exists.”
Is That All the Bad News if I Have a Tenant Who Hasn’t Paid Rent for Months?
Ah… It might not be. There are rumors of an effort to extend the prohibitions on issuing notices terminating tenancy or filing an eviction for the non-payment of rent in Wisconsin. We have not heard anything definitive on that potential. Additionally, there is the HEROES Act which in its current form, seeks to, among other things, prohibit the filing of eviction actions based on the non-payment of rent for a year for essentially all dwellings. Here is a link to the Act, but, full disclosure, it is 1815 pages long.