New bill may expand landlord rights

The State Assembly is considering a bill that is sure to rub students the wrong way

A perfect example of the luxury that is off-campus student housing.

Photo by Alyssa Anderson

A perfect example of the luxury that is off-campus student housing.

Advertisement

Student housing is anything but luxurious. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.

Anything is better than sharing a bathroom with 40 other girls and consistently being woken up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday to some jerk down the hall blasting his dubstep “masterpiece.” I definitely do not miss the dorm life.

Nevertheless, living off campus has its many woes. My first off-campus house came complete with several broken windows, a stove that sets off the fire alarm if you even think about turning it on, a perpetual grime coating the floor and, last but not least, the occasional visit from our neighbor’s very confused cat.

But hey, it could be worse. I have a roof over my head, running water and a place to seek solace from the stressful world of college. Basically, that’s all I really need. However, a new bill may be put into effect that could make these necessities more challenging to attain.

According to the Wisconsin Law Journal, the State Assembly is currently considering a bill that would expand landlord rights. This bill would give landlords the right to evict tenants if they make damages to the property without repairing them. I agree with this part of the bill — if you break it, you fix it. Simple as that.

However, the bill, which was developed by two Republican senators, outlines that landlords will have the ability to evict tenants if they, a family member or even close friend engages in criminal activity, including dealing drugs. Surprisingly, landlords would have the right to evict tenants even if they were never arrested or convicted of the crime.

What this means is that if my landlord somehow discovered that my (non-existent) brother deals drugs for a living, I could get thrown out of my house. Sound fair? I don’t think so.

While I agree landlords should be able to evict tenants in certain circumstances, I think this bill would make it a little too easy. Especially since tenants don’t have to be arrested or convicted of a crime for the landlord to have grounds for eviction. In a college town, this is just asking for trouble.

College students make mistakes, a lot of mistakes. This doesn’t mean we should throw them out on the streets. There are definitely fair reasons for someone to be evicted, but it really depends on the crime. This proposed bill leaves me with a lot of questions.

Giving landlords more rights over their tenants isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think this bill is the best way to go about that. The tenants should at least be convicted of a crime in order to get evicted; the landlord shouldn’t be able to decide whether or not someone’s crime is “bad” enough to kick them out.

All in all, I don’t agree with this bill. And, at the risk of sounding a little rude, maybe my landlord should fix the plethora of broken things around my house before he is legally allowed to ruin my life.