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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Thumbs up Landlord Retaliation in Wisconsin

    Wisconsin, Below is what is being provided in the official complaint to the ATCP in Green Bay, along with documented evidence such as eviction notices, Building Inspector correction notices and more. Is anything else necessary? Also where does it state that 28 days notice must be given in the case of a rent increase? I also just found out that she raised the rent of other locations that she owns, will this affect my case? What steps does the ATCP take and what more do I need to do?

    It is clear that LL is in violation of the Wisconsin state law that requires a 28-day written notice must be given to tenants in the instance of a rent increase.
    We have also provided overwhelming evidence that LL have violated all parts of Wisconsin Statute 704.45, including subsections, a, b, and c. and this rent increase was a retaliatory measure and thus should be immediately rescinded in writing and a 6-month freeze should be put on all rent increases. Any late charges or other penalties incurred in this situation should also be repaid in full to tenants.

    Problems with the landlord and maintenance began in April of 2006 when the only outside light to the 5 unit building on the East side of Oshkosh had burnt out and I simply requested that this bulb be replaced so the light would work. This light provides outside lighting for all tenant entrances and parking areas, in an area where no street lamps exist. I felt this was a safety concern for all tenants living in the building. I left 4 phone messages, sent 3 emails and repeated personal requests to the maintenance man, totaling over 12 requests for this minor maintenance, all of which went ignored. By June of 2006, there was also other maintenance needed including the replacement of a broken window on the outside of my bedroom. After over 4 months without any responses to my repeated maintenance requests I finally received a phone call back from LL staff. In mid August the maintenance man made arrangements to fix the necessary items, including the window and the outside light, which actually created 2 new situations with worse results.

    1. Broken glass in foot resulted in 1 month no rent.

    2. Rather than fixing either of the 2 existing outside lights on the east side of the building the maintenance man (not a licensed electrician) installed 2 new lights on the side of the garage (which we also rent) and ran this on our electric meter without our permission, knowledge, or consent. Because the lights were on 20-24 hours a day this caused roughly a $20 increase in our electric bill which is how it came to our attention that they were running these ‘common area’ outside lights on our electric meter. When I brought this to the attention of LL, she told me that was impossible and accused me of lying.

    After looking in the basement and only finding 5 electric meters for 5 tenants and additional garage unit with electricity and no sight of an additional ‘common area’ meter, it was obvious this light was obviously running on a tenants’ electricity without their knowledge. I again spoke to LL on the phone and told her that this needed to be fixed. It was at this time that she began becoming very hostile towards me. She proceeded with name-calling, yelling, and refused to even let me speak about the facts at hand before hanging up on me. I totaled that the electric meter had cost approximately $50 for the months of August and September and asked her for permission to take it off the coming months rent. More cursing and personal attacks ensued and she said, "do whatever I needed to". We paid rent in a timely manner minus the $50 that was owed to us for 2 months use of our electricity.

    We were then given a 5-day eviction notice (see attached copy) with a pay or vacate for $135. We paid $100 because an additional $35 was charged with no-basis other than retaliation. I received the notice on Wednesday October, 11th and it had a due date of Friday October, 13th. I spoke with LL again on the phone to arrange a payment and she stated that we would be evicted if she did not receive payment in 2 days and stated the only way she would accept payment was a check in the mail to her location in West Allis. This was not possible in the given time-frame and only by reading the fine print on the notice to her over the phone would she allow me to pay the maintenance man (her employee) rather than a check in the mail. I also had to read the fine print of the lease to her that didn’t state anywhere that the additional $35 she added to our 5-Day Notice was valid. She didn’t agree to either, but I did as was legally correct under both legal documents, “Why don’t you just move out?” Though we didn’t pay by mail as she demanded or the full amount she overcharged us, she never said another word regarding paying her employee or us not paying the additional $35.

    In response to this conversation I was forced to call the Tenant Resource Center and then the City of Oshkosh building inspector. A City of Oshkosh building inspector came out to the property first on November 9th, 2006 and verified that the outside light was running on our electric meter and that there was not (and is currently not) a ‘common area’ electric meter in compliance with city and county building codes. There were also a number of other building code violations including non-use of a licensed electrician and absence of a building permit both for the outside light in question. Shortly after the outside light was removed and it was suggested to me by the City of Oshkosh building inspector to also send a bill to the landlord for the increase in our electricity cost. This bill was paid but no other exterior light was put in its place. I again requested the existing light to be replaced as I had first done over 8 months prior and again, no action was taken by LL. So at this time I was again forced to call the building inspector to again issue another correction notice for the original problem. On November 29th, 2006 Building Inspector again cited the property owner for an additional code violation of not having/providing outside lighting or the property. This problem that began in April of 2006 was finally resolved in early December just prior to receiving the hand-written rent increase notice from LL. In fixing the original problem the maintenance man finally fixed the original light as I had requested over 20 times in the previous 8 months.

    The rent increase notice is another issue. I received a sloppy hand-written letter for a rent increase on Thursday December 7th, 2006. Enclosed with January’s rent of $485, I replied to LL with a typed letter stating that I was unable to read much of her handwriting and requested a clearly typed letter or any legible letter. I also informed her of the tenant protection against landlord retaliation(see attached letter). On December 29th she telephoned me, attacking me for being “an idiot that can’t read,” told me to, “have my mommy or daddy read it to me,” and told me that Wisconsin state statute 704.45 does not apply to her and that if I did not pay her an additional $25 in rent by January 1st, she stated, “I would be happy to get rid of you once and for all.” It was in this phone conversation on December 29th that I was first informed of the exact rent increase of $25 for tenant unit A and no increase for the garage. It was also during this time that I was informed by the Tenant Resource Center that tenants must receive a 28 day written notice of rent increase to take place whenever scheduled rent is due. My rent is due on the 1st of the month and thus we were not provided with a 28-day written notice and the only written notice she provided us with is not completely legible.

    Also during her conversation with me on December 29th LL stated that it wasn’t because of maintenance or retaliation that she was raising rent, even though she shared her happiness to get rid of my tenancy. In this conversation she cited taxes and insurance as the reasons for her rent increase on our property. Knowing that property taxes did not increase in the past year, my roommate received this public information from the city of Oshkosh on January 29th. The 2006 taxes on the entire property rose only $82.60 on the 5 unit + 2-story garage property, including 1 commercial unit. This obviously doesn’t account for a $25/mo per unit rent increase as Judy stated to me on the phone. This rent increase would create over $1500/yr in extra income if she were to increase all units simultaneously, creating over $1400/yr in extra profit. As we also all know property taxes do not suddenly change

    As far as her claim that insurance increased, this is also highly unlikely and should be wholly at the expense of the owner if this is the case. Also obtained from the City of Oshkosh by roomate and available as public information, you can see that the assessed property value is actually $17,200 less than the purchase price of the property that took place 3 years ago. For all mortgage purposes, this property would have to be insured for the purchase price of the property, regardless of the assessed property value. It is also very clear that property taxes don’t suddenly become known at the end of a year, but rather are known throughout the year. It also should be stated that the lease includes a 2 month notice to vacate and does not allow a tenant to vacate during these winter months.

    Property Information for Residence.
    4 private units, 1 commercial unit + 2-story garage/storage unit

    2006 Assessed property value: $131,800
    Purchase price on Jan 14, 2003: $149,000

    2005 Taxes: $2,699.48
    2006 Taxes: $2,782.10

    2006 Tax Increase: $82.62
    Tax/Unit Increase: $16.52 (garage not included)
    Tax Increase per Unit per Month: $1.37 (garage not included)What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Ohio (southwest)
    10 points to the first person to read all that!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    I'm not sure how many people will respond because your post is much longer than it needs to be.

    I don't get the part about "broken glass in foot resulted in 1 month no rent."

    All of your requests for repairs should have been sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.

    I'm curious as to how other tenants are responding to the situation. You seem to be the only one who's "stirred up." I get the overcharge for electricity, but just wonder why you seem to be "carrying the flag" for the building.

    Why would you sign a lease that said you couldn't move during the winter months? That sounds nuts to me. What happens if your lease expires then?

    Where I live, landlords can pass along the cost of repairing the roof on the apartment building to the tenants even though it's their building. Therefore, nothing given as a reason for raising the rent surprises me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Ohio (southwest)
    HT - it looks like you are the winner of 10 points!
    Please let me know where to send your winnings!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    So I've yet to get any 'legal advice' can anyone provide that here?

    Post is long because I just copied the full explanation sent to the ATCP.

    You could say I'm carrying the flag because the rest of the building is complacent, some of them didn't get a rent increase and they're more worried about the LL finding out they've got extra people living there.

    According to agreements repair requests could be made in writing snail or email or minor requests (changing a light bulb) made to the maintenane manager. Lease doesn't include any repairs, plus this isn't actually a repair its a series of building code violations.

    The broken glass is only relevant to understand the full happenings and didn't want to leave it out because it could be seen as misleading.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    You really need to shorten this up. Or, pay someone to spend the time reviewing it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    You need to read the message at the end of the page that clearly states that none of the responses constitute legal advice.

    You have to assume that everyone, including the ATCP, is busy and values questions/complaints that are to the point.

    The comment about the broken glass still makes no sense.

    Contact a lawyer and plan to move as soon as you can.

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