September 15, 2014
by Atty. Ronald L. Diersen
Rizzo & Diersen, S.C.
Wisconsin Statutes were recently amended and now provide new options for a landlord when the tenant leaves property at the residence. Under the old law in Wisconsin the landlord had to hire the sheriff to remove and store the property or get a surety bond, at the landlord’s expense, and move and store the property himself.
Under the new law, sec.799.45 Wis. Stats., the landlord may remove any of the tenants’ abandoned property himself once the sheriff has executed the writ and the rental property has been turned back to the landlord. For this law to apply the landlord must have complied with sec. 705.05(5), Wis. Stats. which provides in part that if the landlord does not intend to store personal property left behind by the tenants he shall “…provide written notice to the tenant, when the tenant enters into or renews a rental agreement, that the landlord will not store any items of personal property that the tenant leaves behind when the tenant removes from, or if the tenant is evicted from, the premises, except as provided in par. (am).” Par. (am) refers to medical items that the landlord is still required to store.
Assuming the landlord has complied with Wisconsin Statutes he now has three options to pick from after a tenant has abandoned the property or the sheriff has forcibly removed the tenant from the premises and the tenant’s property is still there.
1. The old law can still be used. The landlord can continue to hire the sheriff to both forcibly remove the tenants and hire a moving company to remove the tenants’ personal property. This of course involves some expense for the landlord but many are still using this method. The benefit of this method is that if the tenant returns complaining of missing personal property they can simply be referred to the sheriff.
2. The landlord can hire the sheriff only to forcibly remove the tenant. The sheriff will remove any tenant still on the property and return the rental property to the landlord. The landlord can then dispose of the tenants’ personal property as set forth in sec.799.45 Wis. Stats. (assuming the landlord has complied with the notice requirement of sec. 705.05(5), Wis. Stats. and abides by the exceptions to the disposal rule found in sec. 704.05(5)(am) and (b))
3. The third choice available to the landlord is to hire the sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant and to stay at the premises while the landlord himself disposes of the tenants’ property. This of course will involve additional charges from the sheriff but will provide security in case the tenants return to the rental premises.
This new law does not do away with the need to hire the sheriff to remove a tenant who has not voluntarily surrendered the rental property. It does do away with the requirement of hiring a moving company or getting a surety bond to remove or otherwise dispose of abandoned personal property left behind by the tenants.
The Kenosha County Sheriff requires that the landlord select which option he wants to use prior to the sheriff forcibly removing the tenant. The dollar amount required to be deposited by the landlord with the sheriff varies depending on which option the landlord chooses. Option one is the most expensive. Option two has the lowest cost and option three is priced in the middle.
If you have a landlord/tenant issue please feel free to contact the law offices of Rizzo & Diersen, S. C.