What was the emergency rule related to rental late fees and penalties?
DATCP promulgated an emergency rule to prohibit the charging of late residential rental fees and penalties from April 25, 2020 through August 8, 2020. This was an effort to provide some relief to tenants who had been affected by the COVID19 economic challenges.
However, on June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule. As a result, late fees and penalties may now be charged as outlined in rental contracts effective June 25, 2020. Fees and penalties for the period the emergency rule was in effect, April 25, 2020 to June 24, 2020, may never be assessed or charged to a tenant.
On what date may landlords resume charging late rental fees and penalties because the emergency rule is no longer in effect?
As of June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule related to residential rental late fees and penalties. As a result, late fees and penalties may now be charged as outlined in rental contracts effective June 25, 2020.
Fees and penalties for the period the emergency rule was in effect, April 25, 2020 to June 24, 2020, may never be assessed or charged to a tenant's balance.
May a landlord charge a fee or penalty for nonpayment or late payment of residential rent?
Yes, starting June 25, 2020, landlords may charge a fee or penalty for nonpayment or late payment of residential rent IF it is part of the rental agreement. On June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule which had prohibited these fees and penalties starting on April 25, 2020, through 90 days following the expiration of the Governor's Executive Order #72.
Am I still responsible to pay rent under the emergency rule prohibiting fees or penalties for nonpayment or late payment of rent?
Yes. If you can pay rent during the public health emergency, you should do so. The emergency rule was not a waiver of your responsibility to pay rent. If you are unable to make rent payments during the public health emergency, you will have a debt for the rent payments that you were unable to make. You may want to see if you qualify for the Wisconsin Rental Assistance program.
When the effective period of the emergency rule ended, may a landlord then charge late fees or penalties for missed rent payments or late rate payments that occurred during the emergency rule?
No. Late fees and penalties may never be assessed or charged for any missed rent payment or any late rent payment that occurred during the effective period of the emergency rule. With respect to missed rent payments and late rent payments that occur during the period of the emergency rule, late fees and late penalties are prohibited.
What can landlords do if they are not receiving rent payments?
Landlords and tenants are encouraged to make reasonable, good faith efforts to work together during this public health emergency. Landlords should document all relevant communications. Landlords could see if the tenant is aware of the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program to help the tenant gain assistance for rent payments. They could also reach out to their mortgage lender for guidance and possible assistance as needed. Landlords may also check to see if they are eligible for services or benefits under the CARES Act.
When can evictions start?
- Eviction proceedings, including all of the following, can begin for some rental properties on May 26, 2020, at 8:00 a.m.
- Serving notice terminating a rental agreement, including a lease
- Commencing a civil action of eviction
- Delivering eviction notices to the sheriff
Evictions continue to be suspended from March 27, 2020 to July 25, 2020 for non-payment of rent by tenants at HUD Multifamily assisted or FHA-insured properties. Tenants may not be served with an eviction notice solely for nonpayment of rent until July 25, 2020 and the notice must give the tenant 30 days to leave the property (August 24, 2020). For more information on HUD guidance related to COVID-19, please see the following resources: HUD Brochure and the WHEDA FAQ.
Will there be any delays in eviction proceedings due to COVID-19?
The scheduling and holding of court evictions hearings will depend on each court's procedures and caseload. For information on current circuit court operations, please see the COVID-19 tab on the following webpage: https://wicourts.gov/. For the most up-to-date information regarding individual county operations, please visit their website or contact the clerk of circuit court office.
Can I be evicted under an eviction order dated before March 27, 2020?
No. Under state law, eviction orders dated prior to March 27 may not be executed by a sheriff.
Are there going to be any considerations or assistance given to tenants who are unemployed and don't have money to pay rent?
Landlords and tenants are encouraged to make reasonable, good faith efforts to work together during this public health emergency. Tenants may be eligible for CARES Act financial rental assistance through the state or if available their county. For more information on the statewide Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program see: https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/LocalGovtsGrants/COVID-Grants.aspx
Are there resources and funding available to assist in the payment of rent
Yes. A newly created program, the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program will provide direct financial assistance for owed rent, security deposits, and wraparound services for program eligible individuals. For more information on this program see https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/LocalGovtsGrants/COVID-Grants.aspx. In addition, local agencies may also have rental assistance programs.
Have evictions been suspended for tenants living in HUD assisted or FHA-insured properties?
Evictions have been suspended from March 27, 2020 to July 25, 2020 for non-payment of rent by tenants at HUD Multifamily assisted or FHA-insured properties. For more information on HUD guidance related to COVID-19, please see the following resources: HUD Brochure and the WHEDA FAQ.
May a landlord refuse to rent to a person because the person might be at risk for COVID-19? May a landlord evict a tenant because the tenant has, had, or is at risk for COVID-19?
Discrimination in housing is unlawful (Wis. Stat. § 106.50). Refusing to rent or making housing unavailable because a person has, had, or is at risk for COVID-19 might violate the prohibition of discrimination in housing. If a prospective or current tenant thinks that a landlord has engaged in discrimination by refusing to rent or by making housing unavailable because of COVID-19, that person may file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development.
May a landlord enter a leased rental property?
Landlords should check with their local authorities on whether any local order prohibits entry by landlords, contractors, prospective tenants, or other persons in leased rental properties due to COVID-19.