Monthly Archives: May 2007

Whose Side Am I On Anyway?

John H. FischerBy Dr. Rent

As indicated last week, I have been busy so I first now got the chance to read last week’s City Pages.  And there I was, what a surprise!

Normally I know if I am going to be in the City Pages or the Daily Herald or on TV because they called to ask questions.  But not this time.

It was on a small article where a landlord was taken to court for withholding a tenant’s deposit, and the tenant won.  I was mentioned in the article pretty much on the side of the tenant.  So, why I am out there making life more difficult for landlords?  After all, I am the former president of the local apartment association.

I get calls every week from people who heard from a friend of a friend that I give free advice.  Some of the calls are from landlords, some are from tenants, and every now and then a get a call from a lawyer.  (That’s when I knew I made the big time, lawyers asking me for advice!)

When I get these calls, whose side am I on?  Well, I am on the side of what ever is right in terms of the laws, and what is fair if the laws don’t seem to apply.  Sometimes that means I am on the side of the tenant, sometimes on the side of the landlord, and every now and then I think they are both wrong and I just advise them get a lawyer because this is going to be a mess.

Once I was on both people’s sides.  A tenant called who had lived somewhere for a very long time and had questions about the deposit that was withheld.  I told them that damages could be billed, but not “normal wear and tear” and every person defines “normal wear and tear” differently.  The only opinion that really matters though, is the judge’s.  And, the judge will take into consideration how long someone lived there as to what is normal.  For example, the walls needing to be painted because of cigarette smoke after someone was only there for 6 months will probably be okay to take out of a deposit, however if they have been there for 6 years, most judges feel that the unit will need new paint anyway, so normal wear.

After explaining this, she was so glad that I agreed with her and asked if she could give the landlord my number so I could explain this to them.  I agreed and not 5 minutes later they called.  I gave them almost the same “spiel” about what is normal wear and tear and what is not.  She thanked me for agreeing with them.

Huh?

Sure enough, a few minutes later the tenant called back and asked what I told the landlord because they are more convinced than ever that THEY are right.  I assured her I told both parties the same thing.  This took up about 6 phone calls over 2 days.  I told both of them, if you think you are right, go to court.  One of you will be disappointed and without seeing the “damage” (and I didn’t want to), I did not know who would be the disappointed one.

Why will I sometimes take the sides of the tenants?  Because, bad landlords make all of us look bad.  I don’t want to put those guys out of business, I just want them to play by the same set of rules that the rest of us play by.  As you saw from last week’s post, this isn’t an easy profession.

As an example, I am having problems in one of my units where I need to get the tenants out, they are making life miserable not only for the other tenants in their building, but for the entire neighborhood.  However, they are doing it in such a way that the law is actually on their side.  How I am handling it… next week.

Dr. Rent

Memorial Day and Decoration Day

Click for Larger ImageI had the good fortune of being able to attend both a Memorial Day and Decoration Day ceremony this year.

For those who may not know, Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day” and grew out of the natural tendency of people to recognize and honor those who have died, especially with the first flowers of spring. After the Civil War, people both in the North and South spontaneously decorated the graves of those who had died in the war. In 1868 General John A. Logan issued an order that military units were to take time on May 30th to honor those who had fallen. Gradually, the holiday grew to expand to honoring all those who had served in any war, and was made a national holiday in 1971. A short history of the day can be found here.

The Memorial Day ceremony I attended was here in Wausau on Saturday. The parade started at Marathon Park and ended at the VFW Hall on River Drive. After the parade there was a ceremony where Senator Russ Decker, Mayor Tipple and others spoke. The ceremony ended with the raising of the flag and the playing of taps.

On Sunday I had the privledge to be able to attend a Decoration Day ceremony at Old World Wisconsin. The ceremony was a re-enactment of the type of ceremony that would have been held in 1917, in a town called Pleasant Ridge, Wisconsin. Although Pleasant Ridge is no longer a town, in the late 1800s and early 1900s it was an integrated village where many African-Americans had settled both before the Civil War as a result of the Underground Railroad and after the war.

As would have actually happened in 1917, the ceremony focused on Civil War veterans, both living and dead. Naturally, in 1917 Civil War veterans would have been elderly, but still part of society. Many moving speeches and poems were read about the soliders, both black and white giving the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. One of the most moving moments was when the entire crowd recited Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Click For Larger ImageI was told that this was the first Decoration Day ceremony they have done at Old World Wisconsin, and I think everyone involved did a spectacular job. From the period costumes and instruments to the moving portrayals by the re-enators, made for a wonderful event. I hope it will become an annual tradition at Old World Wisconsin.

I took a few snaps (not one of my strong points) at both ceremonies and put them on the Flickr site (remember there is an actual photo page for the blog!)

Friday Dudley: May 25, 2007

It is my plan that there only be one more regular Friday Dudley, next week on June 1. Then again, although the building was scheduled to open in “Spring 2007” it does not look like it will be ready in the next three to four weeks (I could be wrong, I know nothing of contstruction schedules) so I may continue to shoot a “Dudley” from time to time.

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An Open Letter to Coach Simon

Dino CorvinoBy Dino Corvino

Eds Note:  Dino wanted to share this with Coach Simon — and the rest of the world, apparently. 

Dear Coach Simon,

I have been reading stories about you stepping down, and honestly was shocked.  I never imagine something like that was possible.  So I thought I would sit down, and tell you thank you.

Your were my Ninth Grade Basketball Coach.  With Bob Hinck.  It was honestly the last time I took participating in team sports seriously.  As an Everest student who did not play football, I was left with the outcast sports of swimming and tennis.  But you made an impact on me as a young man, and as an adult.  So I thought thank you was in order.

I was an arrogant 9th grader, if you can believe that.  I was pretty much as tall then, as I am now.  So, for a ninth grader, I was doing good.  I had been to UW-EC basketball camp, played with the kids from East at the YMCA (I worshipped East basketball…Pellant, Vince Kuhn, Jay Featherstone, Andy Beuchel, Matt Fethke…those guys were gods) in the summer, and I felt pretty sure of myself.  You reeled that in one time, and took me aside and taught me a lesson.  We were playing in some gym that had a balcony, and we were winning big.  For whatever reason I managed to make a steal, and had an unopposed run at the basket.  When I jumped for my layup, I put the ball between my legs.  It was all about Spud Webb, as he was the man that year.  I made the layup, and ran back goofing to the bench and my friends.  You immediately pulled me from the game.  I was done for that day.

You told me I took an unneeded risk.  I was not an open court player, and should not do something like that.  I was also rubbing it in the other teams face.  Pretty much made a jack ass out of myself.  You told me that stuff, and then you did not talk to me for a few days.  The silent trip killed me, but it showed me effectively how you disapproved of my actions.

At summer camp I saw a city kid who had cut off some sweats, and was wearing them as shorts.  That had not gotten to Everest, and I did it one day.  I cut off a pair of sweats for practice.  You stopped me, and told me that you thought it looked cool.  A coach, and adult told me something was cool.  It was beyond me.

I can remember most of that team now…Dave Webber (who I think has passed away), Steve Osswald, Rob Szekeress (whos name no one could read, so we all called him Ska Vaz) Bill Fleischman, Chad Engstrom, Bill Grams, Steve Skalecke.  And some other guys.

I knew both of your children.  I knew your wife.  Mike was an amazingly cool dude.  And he drove a pick up truck.  Kris was one of the best athletes Everest had.  Jackie, my ex, used to talk about her in college.

I never played baseball.  Which was your main sport, but you made an impact on my life.  You taught me to be humble, to work hard, what really firm hair looks like.  You and Bob Hinck both took an active role in my life when it spun out of control in high school.

Thanks Mr. Simon.  I hope you are okay.

It’s Not Easy Saying Good-Bye

John H. FischerBy Dr. Rent

It has been a busy few weeks, but I am close to being caught up and am back.  The news recently opened up the public to the rental conditions at Green Acres mobile home park in Weston.  This general issue has brought up a number of things where I thought input could be valuable.

The first question that comes up, is why do landlords not kick these people out, or why do they wait so long?  Well… even a very fast landlord will have a long wait to give someone the boot (legally), all the while the neighbors are getting upset with the property owner for what appears as non-action.

For those that may not be familiar, here is how long it would take to evict someone for something that is very easy to win in court, non-payment of rent.

Many landlords have a grace period for rent payment (ours is the 5th), so therefore, if rent is due on the 1st, no action will be taken until the 6th of the month, when rent is officially late.  On the 6th of the month, the landlord issues a 5-Day Pay or Quit notice.  Basically, it says that the tenant has an additional 5 days to pay before the landlord can pursue any legal action.  The deadline on that letter will probably be the 11th or 12th.

Let’s say the 12th was the deadline on the letter, and that date comes and goes without any payment.  The landlord can now start the eviction proceedings (that’s right, we are nearly 2 weeks in before things start).  So you file the court papers (which cost $85) and have them served ($65 per person).  The court needs to allow for time to serve, so you are probably looking at a “Return Date” about three weeks out.  Return dates in Marathon County are Wednesdays, so if we are talking May rent, the court date will be May 30th.

At this first appearance, they just try to figure out if a trial is needed.  So, if the tenants don’t show up, or if they admit that they haven’t paid the rent, you will be able to skip to the writ step.  However, if they have a legitimate answer (such as the 5-Day notice was never delivered, or I did pay that in cash), then a trial date will be established.  You, as a landlord, will not be able to plead your case now (by providing proof of the 5-Day), you have to wait for your trial date.  These normally happen pretty quickly, within a week to 10 days.  So, by June 10th you should be before a judge on the eviction case.

All goes well at trial and you are able to prove that 1) they did not pay the rent; and 2) they were given the proper notice.  The judge will award you with a Writ (actually, the right to get a writ, which costs $5).  You are then off to the Sheriff’s department again with another $65 per person to have the writ served.  The Writ is basically the order that they have to get out.  By June 20th, if they haven’t moved, you are now (with the help of the Sheriff’s dept) able to physically remove them from the property.

That took just under two months.  Of course, most people will move on their own before it gets to that last step (in the last 13 years, I have had to file eviction cases about 1-2 times per month, and only 3 times total did we have to remove them).  However, now imagine it wasn’t an eviction for late rent.  What if it was an eviction for loud parties at all hours of the night… or for drug activity, or for 20 people in a 2 bedroom apartment.  In each of these cases, it follows the same steps and goes no quicker, not even for drugs!  And, in those other cases, the landlord has a much harder job of proving their case before the judge, especially if the neighbors who want those 20 drug-dealing, music-playing tenants gone refuse to testify as witnesses.

So… just because a problem seems to be going and going, don’t always assume the landlord is doing nothing.  From date of breach of lease to a big moving van showing up is almost two months in Wisconsin.

Dr. Rent

Coming Back to Life

By Christine Martens

Eds Note:   I have been a little behind in my postings here on the Wausaublog, but things should now be coming back to life a bit.  And Wausau itself, though it does not hibernate during the winter, is also coming into the busy season of the year.  Christine is going to get the ball rolling for us.

It is Bill’s favorite time of year- the time when Camp Wausau (is that trademarked, Bill?) is set to begin! There is a great line up of events for the warm summer months in Central Wisconsin. You can keep track of all the fun at www.visitwausau.com.

I noticed while entering some events in an on line calendar (www.explorehwy51.com) that the weekend after 4th Of July is really big this year. Beginning Wednesday, July 4th and running through the weekend, is the Jaycees’ 4th Of July Festival. The same weekend (July 6 – 8) is Chalkfest, The Hot Air Balloon Rally and couple of other smaller events!

The 2nd Annual Blueberry Blitz at Utech’s Rainbow Dairy Goat Farm is set for Saturday, July 21. There are blueberry treats, hay rides, a Blueberry picking contest, llama cart rides, llama walks and labyrinth walks (I am not sure if you can take the llama into the labyrinth…) You can even catch a tour of this working 400 goat farm.

And this me, Bill again.  Things are in fact happening all over the place.  This weekend featured a whitewater event downtown, the Farmers’ Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday until fall and signups for summer activities are well under way.  So get out and enjoy Camp Wausau — and then read about it here.

Spotted on Lake Wausau

I have a bunch of other posts I need to get to, and I promise I will, but I took some pictures tonight out at Lake Wausau and when I looked at them on the computer screen I noticed something strange there. My photo instructor always told us to always carry a camera so we would be ready if “Big Foot jumps out of the woods.”

But he never mentioned Nessie.

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