Sep 25, 201308:13 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Madison liberals, Republicans are trying to help you by helping landlords
(page 1 of 2)
There are signs, albeit evanescent, that Madison’s leaders are pushing back against the progressive crusade to create more rights without responsibilities. Downtown businesses are mobilizing against the hostile atmosphere created by the vagrants inhabiting the misnamed “Philosophers’ Corner” at the intersection of State and Mifflin streets on the Capitol Square.
Mayor Paul Soglin is pushing back against his city’s role as a human refuse bin, although he wrongly blames the Department of Corrections instead of Madison’s own liberal policies. The latest outrage: The armed robbery and shooting last week that momentarily cleared out the downtown campus of Madison College.
Let’s say it again: Madison cannot address its number one quality-of-life issue (the safety and peace of mind of its law-abiding citizens) without addressing the underlying problem (the rights-intoxicated progressive mindset).
To the rescue comes an unlikely ally: that Great Satan, the Republican state Legislature. It proposes strong medicine: a thorough revamp of laws governing the landlord/tenant relationship. The rewrite will strengthen the hands of landlords, much to the chagrin of progressives like Brenda Konkel, who makes her taxpayer-supported living by pillorying housing providers.
The Squire of the Stately Manor remembers the lament sounded at the many crisis neighborhood meetings here on Madison’s southwest side: Landlords must do more to screen and police their tenants. Pretty hard to do when city ordinances tilt the playing field against the property owner. It is almost more difficult to evict a gang-banging renter in Madison than to present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that would convict him in criminal court.
“We took a look at the greatest abuses and addressed them,” said Rob Kovach, a legislative staffer for Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, co-sponsor of Substitute 1 to Senate Bill 179, which would reform Wisconsin’s rental housing policies. Frank is a stalwart conservative, but his Senate co-sponsors are moderate Republicans Dale Schultz and Luther Olsen.
Holding tenants responsible
“The common theme to almost all provisions of the bill is they try to make it easier for the person who is responsible for problems or damage to be held responsible,” Kovach told me. He put it this way:
- If someone parks illegally, the landlord should be able to tow the car.
- If someone is found responsible for an infestation, they should pay to have it remediated.
- If a tenant damages the property, they should fix the damage.
- If a tenant abandons their property after they are evicted, the landlord shouldn’t be responsible for storage of the tenant’s belongings.
Substitute 1 to Senate Bill 179 would also:
- Allow landlords to evict tenants if a crime is committed on the rental property
- Speed up court hearings on eviction notices
- Hold landlords harmless for references given to previous tenants (in other words, they can tell the truth)
“Our language makes it very clear that an eviction against criminals is okay, but against victims of crime is not,” Kovach told me. “We also include a new disclosure so that potential victims of domestic violence know they have protections against evictions if they call the police for help.”
Furthermore, the legislation states: “No city, village, town, or county may enact an ordinance that requires a landlord to communicate to tenants any information that is not required to be communicated to tenants under federal or state law.”