Landlords learn of new laws, programs available

More than a dozen property owners participate in training

About half of the housing in the City of La Crosse is rental property, meaning landlords and property managers have a big stake in the community’s housing market.

Some landlords are getting an education on new laws and fix-up programs available in the city.

More than a dozen landlords and property owners took part in Success Through Knowledge – Training for Landlords on Thursday.

Not only are organizers hoping to clarify what has become a long list of rule changes, they also want to make sure these landlords know about the programs and services available to them through the city.

This year the state of Wisconsin and the City of La Crosse have made several landlord-tenant law and ordinance changes, which is why La Crosse county and city officials want to clear up any confusion.

“So really to have that opportunity to listen to a mediator, an actual attorney, provide that information, it’s pretty important to answer those questions,” County Health Educator Al Bliss said.

Not only do the landlords have the opportunity to get their questions answered, they’re also able to become more familiar with the city’s building inspection process, and ways they can help revitalize La Crosse neighborhoods.

“They are definitely a key partner with the city of La Crosse in terms of examining some of our issues of how do we upkeep our neighborhoods, how do we beautify our neighborhoods,” City Community Development Administrator Caroline Neilsen said.

The city will begin new programs like a paint fix-up program where property owners are offered an incentive to clean up their homes.

“We’re really going to talk to the landlords too about our new initiatives to promote fair housing. That means educating landlords about ensuring that they allow fair housing to everyone who applies, regardless of race or income level or religion,” Neilsen said.

The La Crosse Police Department has its own way of helping landlords.

When the police issue a citation or make an arrest at the same location four times in a year, it’s considered a chronic nuisance. Under the chronic nuisance ordinance the Police Department then works with the property owner to find a way to stop going back to the same location over and over again.

“It’s really helped. We’ve had some success stories where we’ve been able to work with landlords and tenants and that to reduce the number of calls going to places. Just making them aware of the problems that might be going on at their properties,” La Crose Police Department Lt. Pat Hogan said.

There have been so many changes to landlord-tenant laws in 2014 that this is the second time this year training like this has been offered in La Crosse.

Organizers are hoping to make this training annual.