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Rent Abatement Ordinance & Procedures

What is rent abatement? (MGO 32.04; 32.06)
  • A way for tenants to potentially reduce their rent. Relies on a landlord failing to fix certain housing code violations. The rent decrease is temporary.

  • Tenants are eligible when a landlord does not fix issues by the due date listed on the Official Notice.

  • There are specific code violations that are eligible for a rent reduction.

  • The process includes a hearing. During, a Hearing Examiner (HE) listens to claims from both parties. Then the HE decides whether to award abatement and sets an amount, if any.

  • Getting rent abatement does not affect a tenant's right to sue for damages in court.

Tenant

First, contact your landlord to make repairs. Ask about the timeframe. If the owner has not made repairs, call us at (608) 266-4551. You do not need to wait many months to call us.

Once we receive a complaint, we do an inspection. An inspection will check the premises for violations. Then, the inspector will send the property owner an Official Notice. The Official Notice will list violations along with due dates for fixing the issues. The notices will also list which issues may be eligible for Rent Abatement. You are eligible for abatement only if the owner does not correct issues by the due date(s). If an address becomes eligible for abatement, we will let tenants know by mail.

We will also publish notices in the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ). We publish notices on Tuesdays for three (3) consecutive weeks. The notice will list addresses and apartment numbers. If you're eligible, you must apply for a hearing within 30 days of the first notice's publish date. To apply, call (608) 266-4551 and ask to apply for rent abatement.

Property Owner

You can avoid Rent Abatement claims by resolving items in an Official Notice by the due dates. Call your inspector and arrange a reinspection before the due date. That way, we can reinspect all the items. If an inspector grants you an extension, it will only stop legal action. It will not stop rent abatement claims.

Give special attention to those items on your Official Notice with an asterisk(*) next to them. Those items, if not completed by the compliance date, may be eligible for rent abatement. Regardless of rent abatement, you must correct all items by the due date to avoid prosecution. To know when your unit(s) are eligible for abatement, was the Tuesday WSJ and work with your inspector.

If your tenant applies for abatement, we will notify you by mail at least 10 days before the hearing. We will send you a copy of the application, the hearing time, date, and location. It's important that you or your agent appear at the hearing. Failure to do so will result in a decision based only on the tenants testimony.

 

Awards

After the hearing, the HE has up to 20 days to make a decision. They will decide if the tenant may abate rent, and if so, how much the tenant may abate for each violation. The rent abatement award amount follows the guidelines in the Ordinance. Under the ordinance, tenants may not abate rent until the HE orders it. Abatement ordered by a hearing examiner goes back to the date of the first inspection.

 

The tenant can deduct money from future rent payments if the property owner

  • owes money from the back-dated award

  • does not promptly reimburse the tenant

 

If the rest of the rent payments are less than what the owner owes, and they do not pay promptly, the tenant may recoup

  • twice the amount owed

  • plus attorney fees

Documents
Last Updated: 09/08/2021

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How to apply for rent abatement:

To apply for a hearing, call (608) 266-4551 and ask for the Rent Abatement Clerk.




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