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Landlords file lawsuit against City of La Crosse

Lawyer: ordinance violates state law

Landlords file lawsuit against City of La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Two landlords from La Crosse are pushing back against a new city ordinance in a big way.

Pam Strittmater and Dave Olson have filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that some regulations imposed on landlords violate state law.

The ordinance in question was passed back in April and requires landlords to register their property with the city every year, or else face a fine that can reach $3,000.  Bernardo Cueto, the lawyer for both landlords, says the ordinance will force property owners to stop renting and have negative impacts on La Crosse and its residents.

"This is going to hurt everybody," Cueto said. "It might draw away businesses to the area, it might draw away future landlords, it might hurt the housing market."

Aside from its side effects, Cueto says the ordinance is against state law - Act 76 to be specific, which went into effect at the start of Mach and works to even the playing field between landlords and homeowners.

"Wisconsin passed a law that landlords should not be treated any differently than residential homeowners, and that municipalities should not be getting more information from them than they would," Cueto explains.

Mayor Tim Kabat responded by saying the ordinance doesn't discriminate against landlords and was crafted with state law in mind.

"We made it clear we were only collecting the same information we were collecting from everybody else," he said. "We were very conscientious about making sure that the changes and rules complied."

Kabat emphasized the ordinance was enacted to address the city's aging housing stock and rapidly growing rental neighborhoods - not to harm landlords or discriminate them in any way. Cueto said no matter what the intention was, the ordinance is still in conflict with state law.

A hearing on the lawsuit has yet to be scheduled.

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