December 10, 2015
Representative Brostoff, and Chair Jagler and Vice-Chair Allen of the Committee on Housing and Real Estate,
On behalf of the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association (MHNA), I am writing to express our strong opposition to Assembly Bill 568, which would severely restrict a municipality’s ability to regulate rental properties. MHNA represents a portion of Milwaukee’s east side, between Oakland and Downer Avenues, and between Hartford and Bradford Avenues, and encompasses the southern half of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) main campus as well a housing stock that has a significant number of rental properties, serving predominantly UWM students.
At a neighborhood meeting last week, our Alderman Nik Kovak presented the latest numbers related to rental housing and found that of our neighborhood’s total 645 residential properties, 366, or 57% are non-owner occupied. The deteriorating quality of rental properties, mostly duplexes, has been an issue for our residents – owners and renters alike – for years, as the percentage of non-owner occupied properties has slowly but steadily increased.
The City of Milwaukee piloted the Residential Rental Inspection (RRI) program in 2009 in two neighborhoods where poorly managed and maintained rental properties had been severely problematic — Lindsay Heights and our UWM neighborhood. The RRI program did not add any substantive new code regulations, it only provided the City an efficient method for ensuring that all existing code requirements were met. This program was very successful and uncovering a large number of code violations that previously went unreported (a bump from 489 orders in 2009 to 1223 orders in 2010). Especially considering that a vast majority of renters in our neighborhood are students for whom this is likely their first time renting, they are often unaware that certain conditions they are living with are legally substandard, and they may also be concerned about reporting violations against their landlord for fear of repercussions including eviction.
Not only was the program successful in uncovering these violations, it saw higher than expected levels of voluntary cooperation and improved overall relations between DNS staff, tenants, and property owners, and as a result of this highly successful pilot program, the City approved an expansion of the program to other neighborhoods.
MHNA seeks to maintain and improve the quality of life for all our residents by communicating and coordinating regularly with stakeholders including UWM, MPD, the City, and businesses organizations. We work tirelessly to support programs that work and fix strategies that are broken. RRI is a program that works.
President, Murray Hill Neighborhood Association
Restricting Municipalities from Regulating Apartments and Landlords; and from Engaging in Historic Preservation. This bill prohibits a municipality from requiring landlords to register with the city. It also prohibits municipalities from establishing apartment inspection programs. Inspections could only be conducted in response to tenant complaints. The bill also prohibits a municipality from designating a property as a historic landmark without the consent of the owner. In addition, a municipality may not require or prohibit any action by an owner of a property relating to preservation of the historic or aesthetic value of the property without the consent of the owner. The League strongly opposes this bill. Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) and Rep. Rob. Brooks (R-Saukville) are the authors.