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Landlords urged to hold off on evictions, especially if government check is in the mail

By: USA Today Network//June 9, 2020//

Landlords urged to hold off on evictions, especially if government check is in the mail

By: USA Today Network//June 9, 2020//

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USA Today Network 

“The check is in the mail” is a phrase landlords often hear from tenants, but this week they’re hearing it from their own trade association.

The Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin is urging its landlord members to hold off on starting eviction actions if their tenants are in line to receive federal or state aid that could help them pay their past-due rent.

“It is critical for the survival of rental housing that tenants who can pay rent, do so,” the association said in a statement Monday. “It is equally crucial that property owners work with tenants who are suffering legitimate financial hardships due to the current economic upheaval.”

The association is hoping that some tenants will be eligible to receive payments from the new $25 million Rental Assistance Program, started by Gov. Tony Evers last month to help people struggling with job loss or reduced income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program “is ramping up and will also enable tenants to catch up on past rent and stay current in coming months,” the association said.

In addition, the association noted some tenants who “have applied for state and federal unemployment compensation are due to receive payments, especially the $600 weekly special federal benefit, which they will be able to apply to past and current rent.”

Giving tenants time to receive their government money makes good business sense and is the right thing to do, said Heiner Giese, legal counsel for the association.

If the landlord waits for the tenant to collect the government cash, the landlord could be made whole, and the tenant is not uprooted, Giese said.

But “if you evict him, you’re never going to see that past-due money,” Giese said.

The landlord association is urging its members to defer filing eviction suits against tenants who can show they have a pending unemployment-compensation claim or have submitted an application for money from a rental-assistance program.

The rental-assistance program was set up just before a two-month ban on eviction actions expired.

The eviction moratorium ended May 27, and in recent days, the number of eviction suits has been increasing. There were a dozen eviction actions filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on June 1. On Friday alone, 59 suits were filed; there were 57 more cases filed by 4 p.m. Monday, according a state online court-record system.

Before filing an eviction suit, a landlord must give a tenant at least five days to pay the back rent.

The association said landlords “should try to work out written payment agreements with those who are legitimately struggling.”

Reach out to Cary Spivak at (414) 223-5467 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @cspivak or Facebook at


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