Wausau Passes Rent Abatement Ordinance

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Wausau tenants could get their rent reduced under a law passed by the Wausau City Council Tuesday.

The rent abatement ordinance forces landlords who refuse to fix hazards to do so or they'll have to pay the price.

Beginning in April renters who live in conditions that pose health or safety hazards will have recourse.

After a landlord refuses to fix a problem, a tenant can contact the city inspection office, who will then look at the issue and warn the landlord to comply with city code.

If the problem persists, that tenant can request a rent abatement hearing.

"I think once tenants realize that its an available remedy for them that they will start to leverege that and contact city hall and begin that process," said Lisa Rasmussen, a city council member.

Hearings would take place during the city's monthly health and public safety meetings giving the tenant and landlord a chance to address the committee.

Landlord John Fischer, of Emmeric & Associates, helped write the ordinance.

"As a good landlord I think it's a good ideak," he said. "It allows all landlords to compete on an even level. "

Fischer says there is a chance of tenant abuse, but the hearing process gives the committee an opportunity to decide who is telling the truth and also takes into account city inspector reports.

The committee will follow guidelines that determine how much rent can be reduced. Depending on the severity, renters could get up to 95% off until the problem is fixed.

Tenants would have to pay $25 to request a hearing, but if the committee determines their rent is abateable, the landlord would be responsible to pay it.

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