By 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.