Thursday, April 19, 2012

UW Students Having Trouble Finding Housing?

With a 2% vacancy rate and landlords doing some heavy screening, some UW-Students who's jobs are on hold may have trouble finding housing this spring. Consider what a landlord recently told the Tenant Resource Center:
Thanks to Gov Walker, funding for UW programs has not been released. This is really a problem in the medical science areas such as stem cell research as they are being told they may not get any funding released. This is effecting many people that work within the labs of the UW as they cannot guarantee employment for next year and they are telling their students that it might be another 4-6 weeks before they know their status. PhD candidates and students are in limbo in many areas for funding reasons and summer hours are being cut back. I bring this up as I have had a lot of students applying for apartments that have now found themselves without employment. Many of these students do not speak English as a first language and are distraught in terms of what to do. This is really a problem for foreign students whose visa status depends on the University. I am sure I am not the only Landlord running into this, but I wanted to let you know so that you can give your staff a heads up.
Students may wonder if this is legal or if they are being discriminated against. Most likely, no. If students are not being rented to because they are students, that would be discrimination. Or, if they were not being rented to because they were from a different country, that could be discrimination. However, Madison laws that protected tenants based on having too little income were overturned last fall by the state legislature with SB107. So, landlord can use whatever criteria they want for income in the City of Madison. As long as they are applying the criteria equally and not treating someone different simply because they belong to a protected claas, its their market to do as they please.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raffle Winners and Thank You!

Thanks to everyone what made our August Raffle and Rent/Megin's Going Away Party a great success!


And the winners of TRC's Fall Raffle are . . .
Connie and Chuck Smalley $100
Pamela Abel $200
Elaine Staley $500


Food Willy St. Coop, Glass Nickle, Madison Sourdough, Connie and Chuck Smalley, Heidi Wegleitner and Jeanne Erickson MusicElectric Spanking! (contact Raffle Ticket Buyers and Donors MEGIN!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Join Us Tonight for our Rent/Thank you Megin! Party

Join us tonight for our Rent Party, buy a raffle ticket, enjoy some live music (Electric Spanking), free food, cash bar and help us thank Megin McDonell for her more than 14 years of working at the Tenant Resource Center!

Sunday, August 14 · 5:00pm - 9:00pm
The Cardinal Bar, 418 E. Wilson Street

Tired from a long day of moving? Need to escape the heat of the Madison summer? Looking to win some cold, hard cash that benefits a good cause? Join the Tenant Resource Center for live entertainment, local food and a chance to win cash prizes of $100, $200 and $500!

We'll be selling tickets to the TRC's August 15th Raffle - 1 ticket for every $5 and 5 tickets for every $20. Winners will be announced Monday, August 15th. (Need not be present to win.)

Suggested donation at the door is a $20 purchase of 5 raffle tickets. Event is 18+ and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Can't make it? Buy Tickets online at www.tenantresourcecenter.o​rg!

Raffle tickets are also available until noon on Monday!
Tenant Resource Center - Main Office 1202 Williamson Street
Monday - Friday, 9am - 6:00pm

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Five Tips for Tenants Who Are Moving


5. Landlords may not require tenants to pay in advance for carpet cleaning or require them to perform the cleaning themselves before move-out. It is the landlord’s responsibility to prove that the carpet was soiled or stained beyond normal wear and tear—and not already in that condition when the tenant moved in—and then deduct the actual cost of cleaning from the deposit if appropriate.

4. Act Now to Protect Your Security Deposit
• Schedule a check-out time with your landlord, if possible. If there is a dispute about something, it can often be quickly resolved by talking with your landlord in person. For example, you could decide to clean the stove better or just pay the cost for the landlord to do it, or other similar items pointed out during a check-out inspection.
• Fill out a check-out form and make sure you keep a copy. In the City of Madison the landlord is required to furnish you with one; if s/he doesn’t, s/he cannot deduct for cleaning or damages. If you need a check-out form, or a check-in form for your new apartment, download them from TRC’s website at for free!
• Clean your apartment. It should be as clean as when you moved in.
• Take photographs or make a video tape if necessary to document the apartment’s condition. Madison landlords are also required to take photos, but in case yours doesn’t, you will have your own valuable evidence of the condition of the apartment.
• Get a disinterested witness (not relatives or roommates) to walk through with you to verify the state of the apartment and its cleanliness; try to get a written statement from them or a future address where they can be contacted should the need arise.
• Forward your mail and leave your new address with your landlord—all correspondence and security deposit returns will be sent to your last known address unless otherwise specified in your lease.
• When you arrive at your new place, take the time to thoroughly inspect your apartment and document ALL existing damage and wear and tear on your check-in form, so that you won’t be charged for those items when you move out next year.

3. The Tenant Resource Center (TRC) has some great brochures that quickly sum up rental rights and responsibilities, useful for tenants in a rush and overwhelmed with moving.
Check them out on our website at

2. Bugging Out? Think . . . Yes, Hippie Christmas, dumpster diving, whatever you want to call it, it’s well under way as Madison enters the um… magical weeks during which thousands of renters exchange apartments and furnishings. More than ever before, the Tenant Resource Center has a very important reminder for people looking to snag some cheap furnishings while on the move:
• Inspect all items closely for signs of pests.
• No matter what they look like, leave upholstered items on the curb! No matter how new and appealing a piece of furniture might look just sitting there waiting for a new home, remember that cockroaches and those dreaded and persistent BED BUGS love to stow away in the dark, tight spaces of upholstered furniture and cardboard boxes.
• If you are moving and disposing of any items such as mattresses or pillows that you believe might be infested, consider spray painting the item with the words “BED BUGS” to deter others from picking up the item, and spreading the infestation further.

1. TRC activities this weekend and next week.
• TRC will not have extended office hours this weekend due to recent funding cuts, struggling fundraising and staff shortages.
• We will be open our regular hours Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm all next week at our main office at 1202 Williamson St, Suite 102.
• We also will be at our campus office (in ASM office, 4th floor in the Student Activity Center) on Monday 1- 4, Tuesday 10 – 2 and Thursday 1- 4 through the end of August (Hours will change September 1.)
• For urgent questions over the weekend email at, find us on twitter @MadisonTRC or message Madison Tenant on Facebook.
• We will be hosting a Rent Party on Sunday 5 – 9 at the Cardinal Bar.
• Check out our Raffle on August 15th.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Message from DATCP about Your Security Deposit

An update from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.   Madison renters, make sure you know that you have additional rights.  See Tenant Resource Center website from more information about Madison Security Deposits and Wisconsin Security Deposit issues.

Tenant Rights: A Lesson in Security Deposits Release Date: August 10, 2011
Contact: Brock Bergey, 608-219-9396 (cell)

MADISON – Thousands of Wisconsin college students are ending one rental agreement and starting another – and that means security deposits are changing hands. Security deposits are a common source of landlord-tenant disputes reported to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Tenant complaints usually involve one of three issues.
“Take the time to learn about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant,” said Sandy Chalmers, Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection. “Whether you are signing a lease or ending a lease, knowing some basics can save you time and money.”
QUESTIONABLE DEDUCTIONS State law allows landlords to deduct money from a security deposit for unpaid rent or utility bills and property damage caused by tenants. Common examples include stained carpets, damaged walls, cracked windows, scratched countertops, and broken fixtures. However, the law clearly reads that a landlord cannot use a security deposit to cover "normal wear and tear." In other words, it is illegal for landlords to deduct for routine cleaning, carpet shampooing, and painting. If deductions are taken from a security deposit, landlords are required to put together a written itemized statement.

RETURN DELAYS Landlords have 21 days after the end of a tenant's lease to either refund the security deposit in full or send an itemized list of deductions. If the 21 day period passes, and neither has been received, former tenants can sue the landlord for double the amount of the security deposit, plus court costs. If a tenant moves out before a lease is up, it is their responsibility to notify the landlord in writing to enact the 21 day rule. However, if no written notification is given, a landlord can withhold the security deposit up to 21 days following the end date on the lease.

DOCUMENTATION DISPUTES State law gives tenants seven days to inspect an apartment and complete a check-in form at the start of a new lease. Landlords cannot charge tenants for existing damages included on a check-in form. In addition to taking detailed notes, tenants should take pictures of any property damage before moving in – providing copies to the landlord and keeping the originals on file. Tenants also have the right to request a list of damages for which the landlord withheld money from the previous tenant's security deposit. When moving out, tenants should follow the same procedures involved with the check-in process – documenting the apartment's condition and taking pictures to go along with written forms.

To file a consumer complaint, contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection on the web at; via e-mail at; or call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

For more information, DATCP offers a booklet outlining the rights of responsibilities of landlords and tenants called The Wisconsin Way. It is online at Bound copies are also available for $10. The fee covers the publication cost and postage.

This service is provided to you at no charge by the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. If you are not the appropriate person in your organization to receive these messages, please e-mail the media contact above to make a change.