Q: My tenant is not paying rent, am I able to evict them?
A: Governor Evers implemented Emergency Order 15: A Temporary Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures. This order has altered the remedies available to landlords for a period of time. Currently, all evictions are suspended until May 27, 2020. Landlords are unable to begin the eviction process despite non-payment of rent by a tenant. There is an exception to this new rule: an eviction that is not based on failure to pay rent accompanied by a reasonable belief of imminent harm to another person. If a landlord has a reasonable belief, supported by affidavit, that a failure to proceed with the eviction will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person, then they may proceed with an eviction.
Q: Does this order apply to only residential landlords?
A: No, the order applies to both commercial and residential landlords.
Q: Can my tenants simply stop paying rent during this time?
A: A tenant my choose to stop paying rent at this time. However, the emergency order does not absolve them of their responsibilities as a tenant under their lease. During the stay on evictions and notices, a tenant is still responsible for rent, utilities, and all other obligations specified in the lease. If a tenant stops paying rent, make sure to maintain your records, inform the tenant they are behind, and request payment. If the tenant is behind on rent at the end of the emergency stay, then you can proceed with an eviction.
Q: If my tenant does not pay rent, can I still serve them with a notice?
A: No, the stay on evictions is extended to serving a notice. The best thing to do at this time is to try and work with your tenants. This is a difficult time for everyone, being thoughtful and understanding at this time can bolster your property’s image and reputation.
Q: What about the evictions that have already been filed?
A: COVID-19 has brought court proceedings across Wisconsin to a halt. The order does not dismiss or terminate your previously filed eviction, it just delays the proceedings. Make sure to check in on your current cases with your respective courts to see if or when your hearings have been rescheduled.
Q: Has the order affected writs of eviction?
A: Yes. The stay on evictions and notices extends to writs. At this time, no new writs are being issued, and those that have been sent to the sheriff’s office are not being executed. In many cases, if you have already sent the deposits in, they will be refunded upon your request.
Emergency Order 15 issued by Governor Evers has affected landlords and tenants across Wisconsin. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, it is important to stay informed on potential new orders issued by the Government. If you need additional advice or have questions about your rights and remedies as a landlord during this time, please contact Rizzo & Diersen, S.C.
Q: Do I still have to pay rent?
A: Order 15 has stayed all evictions and notices by landlords to tenants. However, you are still responsible for the rent under your lease agreement. If you do not pay rent now, once the stay on evictions is lifted, you may receive an eviction notice from your landlord. If you are struggling to pay rent during these trying times, contact your landlord to see if you can work something out.
Q: I just received an eviction notice from may landlord, what do I do?
A: Due to Governor Evers Emergency Order 15, this notice is not valid. All notices of eviction for failure to pay rent and evictions have been stayed until May 27, 2020. If you received this notice, it is prudent to contact your landlord or community manager to discuss setting up a payment plan or explain your situation.
Q: What if I am already in the middle of an eviction proceeding? Is my eviction no longer allowed?
A: Most courts have pushed back proceedings several months due to Emergency Order 15 and the Safer at Home Order. However, the cases that have been filed prior to the issuance of the order will not be dismissed by the courts and will proceed when the Orders issued by the Governor allow. Be sure to check with the court in which your case was filed to stay updated on your new court dates.