AASEW, WAA: Apartment associations urge deferral of evictions

The Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) and the Wisconsin Apartment Association (WAA) represent hundreds of rental property owners and managers throughout the State who operate many thousands of rental units. The state-wide moratorium on filing of evictions ended on May 27, 2020. Although most tenants have been able to continue rent payments in April, May and June, many are still waiting for federal stimulus checks or unemployment compensation (UC) benefits.

As professional associations we and our  members are committed to sustainable rental housing. Our success as housing providers is dependent on the financial stability of both our tenants and the communities within which they live.

Those Wisconsinites who have applied for state and federal UC are due to receive payments, especially the $600 weekly special federal benefit, which they will be able to apply to past and current rent.  Governor Evers’ recently announced $25 million Rental Assistance Program is ramping up and will also enable tenants to catch up on past rent and stay current in coming months.

It is critical for the survival of rental housing that tenants who can pay rent, do so. It is equally crucial that property owners work with tenants who are suffering legitimate financial hardships due to the current economic upheaval. That way landlords will be able to pay the taxes and municipal charges without which local government cannot function. That way sorely-needed housing will not become abandoned due to mortgage and tax foreclosures as happened in the post-2008 housing crash.

We have urged all owners to talk to their tenants who have fallen behind in rent. Instead of resorting to nonpayment notices and court action, we recommend that owners should try to work out written payment agreements with those who are legitimately struggling. Late fees should be waived. Mediation services are available and are preferable to the expense and stress of a court-ordered eviction.

Landlords should defer filing an eviction against a tenant who can show that a UC claim is pending.

Landlords should defer filing an eviction against a tenant who has submitted a claim for relief under Gov. Evers’ Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program.Payment of back rent and current rent directly to landlords is available for income-qualified tenants.

We are in the midst of an economic crisis, the impact of which has been unseen in our lifetimes. We want to approach our tenants with the same compassion as we would expect to receive from others.