Monday, August 10, 2015

More Than a Pet: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Properties

by Steven J. Krueger, Esq.

Most people are familiar with service animals—generally exemplified by a service dog assisting an individual with a disability. Only service dogs, miniature horses, and monkeys are recognized as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Wisconsin law prohibits a public place to deny entrance to a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal. Additionally, under Wisconsin housing law, if an individual's vision, hearing, or mobility is impaired, it is discrimination for a landlord to refuse to rent or sell housing to the individual, evict the individual, require extra compensation as a condition of continued residence, or harass the individual because she keeps a service animal that is specially trained to lead or assist her.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lease Terms May Not Waive Requirements of Security Deposit Statute

by Henry Luepke, Esq.

A client called recently requesting that I review a proposed lease agreement that a leasing agent had submitted for signature to the client's daughter. The daughter would be moving back to St. Louis in a few weeks and wanted to secure a place to stay in a neighborhood close to her mother. The proposed lease was for the perfect location.

The form of lease, however, was less than perfect.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Security Deposit Potential Pitfalls

by Sabin R. Maxwell, Esq.

The initial security deposit charged at the outset of the tenancy seems at first glance a straightforward transaction. However, under New Hampshire law, there are certain pitfalls that the landlord must keep in mind relative to charges to the tenant that go beyond base rent.


Excessive Security Deposit

The easiest trap for a landlord to fall into relative to typical charges passed onto the tenant is charging for items not intuitively understood as part of a security deposit. One common example is a "pet deposit." In New Hampshire, "security deposit" is defined very broadly by statute as "all funds in excess of the monthly rent which are transferred from the tenant to the landlord for any purpose." RSA 540-A:5, II.

Thus, the default position is that any charge beyond base rent, regardless of whether charged at the outset of the tenancy or during tenancy, is considered part of the security deposit.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Quick Guide to Security Deposits

by Gregory A. Goetz, Esq.

Security deposits are oftentimes one of the most hotly-contested issues in landlord-tenant disputes. Many tenants have been evicted from apartments multiple times and are well aware of the ins and outs of the eviction process. With that awareness comes knowledge of matters relating to security deposits and, notably, how to take advantage of a landlord who comes to court unprepared to prove his or her damages. Accordingly, it is vital that landlords take the time necessary to properly document damage to the rental unit.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Top Ten Things Landlords Need to Know

by Candice C.M. Tlustosch, Esq.

  1. Before renting make sure you are in compliance with Wisconsin Rental Weatherization Standards lest you suffer financial penalties.

Rental Weatherization Program

  1. Disclose to potential tenants:

    1. Any known building or housing code violations of which you are aware but have not fixed; and

    2. Whether utilities are included in the rent or billed separately to the tenant.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Wisconsin statutes and administrative code pertaining to residential rental practices. Violations of the residential rental practices act can result in a landlord paying double damages plus attorney's fees.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Crucial Considerations When Drafting Lease Agreements

by Magdalene C. Zeppos, Esq.

While there are many items that landlords should consider in drafting their lease, the following are five items that are crucial to every lease agreement.


1. Consider Who the Responsible Parties Are

If there are multiple adult individuals that will be living in the leased premises, each should be listed as a tenant, so that they can be jointly and severally liable for any breach of the lease agreement. If the proposed tenant has an income level that is questionable, consider requiring a co-signor.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Landlord-Tenant Lessons from Soloman v. Ness

by Graig F. Zappia, Esq.

Security Deposits and the Landlord's Responsibility

Under New York's General Obligations Law, a security deposit with respect to the use or rental of real property "shall continue to be the money of the person making such deposit…and shall be held in trust by the person with whom such deposit or advance shall be made and shall not be mingled with the personal moneys or become an asset of the person receiving the same." General Obligations Law 7-103(1).

In Soloman v. Ness, for example, the landlord failed to deposit the funds "in trust" and went a step further–having the tenant sign off on a clause contained within the lease that commingling the funds was acceptable. Oftentimes, landlords fail to realize this obligation (or choose to ignore it) and simply deposit a tenant's security deposit in the landlord's personal account. That, unfortunately, can lead to many unexpected results.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Wisconsin Act 76 Brings Many Changes to Landlord-Tenant Law

by Steven J. Krueger, Esq.

In 2012, 2011 Wisconsin Act 143 ("Act 143") shook up the landlord-tenant law. Act 143's surprising effects led lawmakers to draft a new act: 2013 Wisconsin Act 76 ("Act 76"). Act 76 was signed into law on December 12, 2013, and became effective on March 1, 2014. Act 76 favors landlords, although tenants do receive some benefits.

Below is a list of the enacted changes to landlord-tenant law under Act 76.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

How to (Legally) Screen Your Tenant

by Sean M. Burke, Esq.

Advising landlords primarily entails suggesting ways to avoid problems in advance. Problems with tenants most frequently come from problem tenants. It's best to avoid problem tenants in the first place.

Landlords should carefully screen tenants before leasing to them. But landlords (and their advisors) should be aware that screening tenants is legal, but discriminating against tenants based on things like race, color, creed, or family status is illegal.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"I'm Keeping It": Kentucky Law on Residential Security Deposits

by Brendan Yates, Esq.

When a tenant moves out of a residential dwelling and leaves it worse for the wear, what recourse does a landlord have? Many landlords assert their "right" to keep the security deposit when such an instance arises, but in order to do so, a landlord must strictly adhere to the established statutory requirements set forth in KRS §383.580.[1]

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