Cities in different parts of the country are sometimes at odds with their state legislatures over the regulation of rental housing and landlord best practices.
Oregon is going through that issue now with the City of Portland wanting to enforce rent control and no-cause evictions which are prohibited by the state. One Wisconsin city is considering taking more of a voluntary approach. Even though the state legislature has stripped much of the power of cities to regulate landlords and rental housing, Madison, Wisconsin, has decided to provide some voluntary “landlord best practices” and are working through the city council to get them adopted.
Here are the 20 landlord best practices the Wisconsin city is considering:
- A landlord or landlord’s agent should provide at least 24 hours notice before entering upon a tenant’s leased property, unless it is reasonably believed that entry is necessary to preserve or protect the premises from damage or destruction.
- The landlord should provide at least 24 hours notice, a reasonable time of entry and an estimated length of stay when showing the leased property to potential future tenants. Too, the landlord and tenant may also mutually agree to shorter notice periods or a larger window of availability.
- The landlord should provide the tenant with written guest regulations, if such regulations exist.
- Landlords should provide the tenant with the Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities brochure at the beginning of the tenancy.
- The landlord should provide a new tenant with voter registration forms at the time the tenant takes possession of the residence.
- Also, the landlord agrees that late fees and penalties will not exceed 5% of the periodic rent.
- The landlord will provide written reasons for denial of a rental application or for the non renewal of a lease.
- If the residence is subject to rent abatement the landlord will so inform successor tenants.
- This landlord will use written check in and check out forms. January 15, 2016 Page 2
- The landlord will photograph any damages found at the end of the tenancy and will make the photographs available to the former tenant.
- The landlord will provide the outgoing tenant not only with an itemization of amounts withheld form security deposits, but also receipts and estimates and hourly rate charges for work performed.
- Landlord will provide the tenant with a telephone number where the tenant may reach the landlord or the landlord’s agent.
- The landlord will itemize any amounts are withheld from an earnest money deposit.
- The Rental Criteria used by the landlord shall be provided to the tenant at or prior to the time they are given a rental application.
- A security deposit will not exceed the equivalent of one month’s rent, however the parties may mutually agree in writing to additional fees as a security deposit for pets or a waterbed.
- A landlord will not simultaneously hold a security deposit given by a tenant and a sub tenant of the same rental premise unless the total of the deposits made by the parties does not exceed the equivalent of one month’s rent.
- Landlord will disclose to a tenant any known defects which are potentially subject to rent abatement, whether or not notice of the defects has been received by the landlord from code enforcement authorities.
- A landlord will inform tenants that City ordinances prohibit smoking in the common areas of buildings which contain three or more rental units.
- A landlord of a lodging house will post, in a conspicuous place readily available to the occupants, the names and telephone numbers of two persons who may be contacted for emergency work.
- Landlord will not charge a prospective rental applicant a nonrefundable credit check fee
Some of the committee’s landlord best practices are direct answers to the recent legislation, including instructions to provide written explanation of a denial of lease and a security deposit limit of one month’s rent, according to the Madison Cap Times.
Cristina Lor has been serving on the committee for about a year and a half, and said that the landlord best practices have once again been reached by consent, incorporating a landlord, city and tenant point of view.
“I think that’s what’s necessary for us to kind of move forward with best practices that encompasses every perspective,” she told the Cap Times.
George Hank, the city’s building inspection director, agreed that representation from tenant and landlord organizations on the committee has been valuable. He said people intimately involved in the day-to-day operations can weigh in on the topic.
“They work very well together to talk about issues. It’s not like one side or the other is trying to ram something through. They really try to do this by consensus,” Hank said.
He said landlords can use their “landlord best practices” status in advertising and marketing. Hanks said the committee has heard that there will be buy-in from landlords in the area. Landlords will not be allowed to make use of the status if they have been cited for a certain number of offenses. Those include building inspection violations in the last year
See the list of best practices here.
What do you as a landlord and property manager think about these landlord best practices?
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Memorandum on best practices guidelines for landlords
Best practices for Madison landlords on its way to the city council