2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
December 19, 2017 - Introduced by Representatives R. Brooks, Schraa and
Brandtjen, cosponsored by Senators Lasee and Craig. Referred to Committee
on Housing and Real Estate.
1An Act to repeal
66.0104 (2) (d) 2. c., 66.0104 (2) (g) and 106.50 (2r) (bm); to
704.17 (1) and 799.06 (3); to renumber and amend
66.0809 (5) 3
(am) and 704.07 (3) (a); to amend
59.69 (4m) (a), 60.64 (1), 62.23 (7) (em) 1., 4
66.0104 (2) (e) 1., 66.0104 (2) (e) 4., 66.0104 (3) (c), 66.0602 (2m) (b) 1., 66.0602 5
(2m) (b) 2., 66.0602 (2m) (b) 3., 66.0809 (3m) (a), 66.0809 (5) (b), 66.0821 (4) (a), 6
101.132 (2) (a) (intro.), 106.50 (2r) (c), 175.403 (2), 196.643 (title), 704.07 (4), 7
799.206 (3), 799.40 (4) (a) and 802.05 (2m); and to create
59.69 (4m) (bm), 60.64 8
(2m), 62.23 (7) (em) 2m., 66.0104 (2) (e) 2. am., 66.0104 (2m), 66.0628 (2m), 9
68.125, 101.02 (7w), 106.50 (1m) (im), 106.50 (1m) (mx), 106.50 (2r) (bg) and 10
(br), 196.643 (3), 196.643 (4), 704.07 (3) (a) 1. and 2., 704.07 (5), 704.085, 704.10, 11
704.17 (1g), 704.17 (4m), 758.20, 799.06 (3) (b), 799.40 (1g) and 799.40 (1s) of 12
the statutes; relating to: the authority of political subdivisions to regulate
13rental properties and historic properties and of municipalities to inspect
14dwellings, public utility service to rental dwelling units, landlord and tenant
1regulations, fees imposed by a political subdivision, certain levy limit
2reductions, certain procedural changes in eviction actions, information
3available on the consolidated court automated Internet site, discrimination in
4housing against individuals who keep certain animals, falsely claiming an
5animal to be a service animal, municipal administrative procedure,
6enforcement of the rental unit energy efficiency program, and providing
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, a political subdivision may regulate places, structures, or
objects with special character, historic interest, aesthetic interest, or other
significant value. A political subdivision may also designate historic landmarks and
establish historic districts and may regulate the historic landmarks or the properties
within a historic district for historic preservation purposes.
Under this bill, in the repair or replacement of a property that is designated as
a historic landmark or included within a historic district, a political subdivision must
permit an owner to use materials that an ordinary observer would perceive as having
a substantially similar appearance to the original material.
Landlord and tenant regulation
This bill provides that if a political subdivision has in effect an ordinance that
authorizes the inspection of a rental property or rental unit upon a complaint from
an inspector or other employee or elected official of the political subdivision, the
political subdivision must maintain a record of certain information related to
inspections performed upon a complaint from an employee or official.
Current law prohibits a political subdivision from charging a fee for an
inspection unless the fee is uniform for all residential rental inspections. Under this
bill, the fee must also not exceed the actual and direct cost of performing the
The bill makes various changes to the requirements that apply to the notice
that a landlord must give to a tenant to terminate a lease based on the tenant's failure
to pay rent. First, the bill provides that, when calculating the amount due in the
notice, “rent” includes any past due rent and any late fees.
Second, the bill specifies that a notice for failure to pay rent or other amount
due under a rental agreement that includes an incorrect statement of the amount
due is valid unless the tenant has paid or tendered payment of the amount that the
tenant admits is actually due.
The bill make various changes to the law regarding background and credit
checks. The bill raises the maximum amount a landlord can charge a tenant for a
consumer credit report, specified in administrative code provisions, from $20 to $25.
The bill also specifies that a landlord may charge a prospective tenant who is not a
resident of this state up to $25 for conducting a background check.
The bill also specifies that, when a landlord charges a tenant for reasonable
costs of remediation, repair, or redecoration, reasonable costs include materials
provided and labor performed by the landlord and time spent by the landlord doing
specified activities. Finally, the bill allows a landlord and tenant to agree in the
rental agreement that the landlord may provide documents, such as an advanced
notice of entry and the security deposit refund, to the tenant through electronic
Finally, under the bill, an ordinance enacted by a city, town, village, or county
to regulate the abatement of rent may only provide abatement for conditions that
materially affect the health or safety of a tenant or substantially affect the use and
occupancy of the premises.
Local fees and charges
This bill specifies that a political subdivision may not impose a fee or charge
related to the political subdivision enforcing an ordinance related to building or
property maintenance standards unless the political subdivision first notifies, by
first class mail or e-mail or other electronic means, the person against whom the fee
or charge is to be imposed that the fee or charge may be imposed.
Municipal dwelling inspection
The bill prohibits a city, village, or town from enacting or enforcing an ordinance
or otherwise imposing a requirement that includes aesthetic considerations for
purposes of inspection criteria for the interior of any structure or part of a structure
that is used or intended to be used as a home, residence, or sleeping place. The bill
defines “aesthetic considerations” to include considerations relating to color and
texture and design considerations that do not relate to health or safety.
Public utility service to rental dwelling units
The bill requires a public utility that provides electric service to a tenant
residing in a rental dwelling unit to notify the owner of the unit no later than five
days before disconnecting service based on nonpayment by the tenant, but only if the
owner has requested the public utility to make the notification. In addition, the bill
allows a public utility to provide information about a tenant's past due charges to the
owner by telephone. The bill also prohibits a public utility that provides any type of
service to require the owner of a rental dwelling unit to provide proof of eviction or
other evidence that a tenant has vacated the unit as a condition for providing or
resuming service to the unit.
Municipal utility arrearage collection
Current law provides certain procedures for the collection of municipal utility
charges that are in arrears. Under one procedure, if a municipal utility provides
utility service to a property and payment for the service is in arrears, the utility has
a lien on the property and may have arrearages inserted as a tax on the property.
In addition, if the municipal utility uses the arrearage collection procedure for a
property that is a rental dwelling unit and provides a notice of arrearage to the
owner, the municipality has a lien on the property of a tenant who is responsible for
the arrearage. Also under current law, a municipal utility must send bills for water
or electric service to a customer who is a tenant in the tenant's own name.
Under this bill, a municipal utility may make use of the procedures described
above only if the utility is in compliance with the requirement that it send bills for
water or electric service to a tenant in the tenant's own name.
Generally, under current law, local levy limits are applied to the property tax
levies that are imposed by political subdivisions in December of each year. Current
law prohibits a political subdivision from increasing its levy by a percentage that
exceeds its “valuation factor,” which is defined as the greater of either 0 percent or
the percentage change in the political subdivision's equalized value due to new
construction, less improvements removed.
Also under current law, a political subdivision must reduce its allowable levy
by the estimated amount of any revenue from fees or payments in lieu of taxes if the
revenue is received for providing certain “covered services” that were funded with
property tax revenues in calendar year 2013. The “covered services” are garbage
collection, fire protection, snow plowing, street sweeping, and storm water
management, except garbage collection by a political subdivision that owned and
operated a landfill on January 1, 2013.
This bill eliminates the levy limit reduction exception for garbage collection by
a political subdivision that owned and operated a landfill on January 1, 2013. Also
under this bill, the amount by which a political subdivision must reduce its levy
under this provision is limited to the amount expended in 2013 from the levy of the
political subdivision for providing the covered service.
Procedural changes in eviction actions
This bill makes certain changes to the requirements for filing and pleading an
action for eviction and to the defenses and remedies available in an eviction action.
Under current law, the director of state courts maintains the consolidated court
automation program website, which is an internet site that is the statewide
electronic circuit court case management system. The director of state courts has
discretion regarding what information is available through the CCAP website.
Under the bill, the director of state courts may not remove case management
information from CCAP for any civil case that is not a closed, confidential, or sealed
case for a period of at least ten years after the date that final judgment was entered
in the case.
Service or assistance animals; emotional support animals
Under the state open housing law, various forms and types of discrimination in
housing are prohibited, including discrimination against persons with disabilities.
In addition, the open housing law contains a provision that specifically addresses
individuals whose vision, hearing, or mobility is impaired and who keep an animal
specially trained to lead or assist the individual.
The bill repeals this provision and replaces it with provisions that address 1)
animals that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with
disabilities and 2) emotional support animals, which are defined in the bill as
animals that provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship but
that are not trained to perform tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities.
Subject to certain exceptions, the bill provides that it is discrimination in housing to
deny housing to an individual with a disability who keeps either type of animal.
However, the bill provides that a person seeking to keep an animal that is
individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability may
be requested to provide documentation of his or her disability and disability-related
need for the animal, unless such disability or need is already known or apparent. The
bill also provides that a person seeking to keep an emotional support animal may be
requested to provide documentation, from a state-licensed health professional
acting within his or her scope of practice, of his or her disability and
disability-related need for the animal. Finally, the bill includes forfeiture penalties
for a person who misrepresents having a disability or a disability-related need for
an emotional support animal in order to obtain housing, and for a licensed health
professional who makes such misrepresentations regarding his or her patient.
Municipal administrative review
Current law provides a procedure by which a person who is adversely affected
by an administrative determination made by a municipality may have review of the
determination. This bill provides that if a municipal authority's order is overturned
or the municipal authority withdraws the order that was the subject of the appeal,
the municipality and municipal authority must refund any fee paid to it by the
appellant as a condition of filing the appeal.
Enforcement of rental unit energy efficiency program
The 2017-19 budget act, 2017 Wisconsin Act 59
, eliminated the rental unit
energy efficiency program effective January 1, 2018. Under the program, the
Department of Safety and Professional Services established a code of minimum
energy efficiency standards for rental units. Also under the program, an owner of
a rental unit, before transferring an ownership interest in the unit, was required do
one of the following:
1. Have the unit inspected by a certified inspector who issues a certificate
stating that the unit meets the minimum energy efficiency standards.
2. If the unit is scheduled for demolition within two years, obtain a waiver of
the certification requirement from DSPS or a certified inspector.
3. Obtain a stipulation between the transferee of the unit and DSPS or the city,
village, or town in which the unit is located stating that the transferee will bring the
unit into compliance with the minimum energy efficiency standards no later than
one year after the date of the transfer.
This bill provides that, effective on the program elimination date, 1) an order
related to the program issued by DSPS before that date is void and unenforceable;
2) DSPS may not take any enforcement action related to a violation of the program
that occurs before that date; and 3) a stipulation or waiver related to the program
entered into before that date is void and unenforceable.
Because this bill may increase or decrease the cost of the development,
construction, financing, purchasing, sale, ownership, or availability of housing in
this state, the Department of Administration, as required by law, will prepare a
housing impact analysis to be printed as an appendix to this bill.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.