Wisconsin’s Rental Weatherization Program has been in effect since 1985. The program was the result of State legislation passed at that time which directed the Department of Safety and Professional Services to develop energy conservation standards for rental properties. If you are a landlord or own a residential rental property in Wisconsin, chances are that you’ve had to deal with the legal requirements of this program. However, due to recent legislation, the program will sunset on January 1, 2018.
What was the Purpose of the Program?
The original intention of the Rental Weatherization Program was to ensure that residential rental properties met certain minimum energy conservation standards at the time such a property was transferred to a new owner. The intended benefits of the program included: reducing the overall demand for heating fuels, shifting the costs of weatherization and energy-related repairs from the tenant to the landlord, and decreasing the state’s dependence on imported fuels, just to name a few. Certain types of properties and transfers were exempt from the program requirements, but many rental units fell within the program’s guidelines.
What were the Code Requirements of the Program?
The Rental Weatherization standards established several very specific code requirements pertaining to things such as double-glazed windows, storm windows and doors, proper weather stripping, caulking around exterior joints and doors, proper ventilation for moisture control, and insulation sufficient to meet certain “R” Values.
How did an Owner Comply with the Program?
Until recently, if you were the owner of a residential rental property and you intended to sell or transfer that property to a third party, unless the property was excluded under the program’s requirements you had to obtain the necessary transfer authorization in order to proceed with the sale or transfer. In most cases, the transfer authorization was in the form of a Certificate of Compliance, which showed that the property satisfied the weatherization standards of the code. A Certificate of Compliance was obtained from an inspector who was certified by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Often times, a certificate would not be issued until the present owner corrected certain issues in order to bring the property into compliance. If this process was not followed, the transfer of the property could not be completed and the deed would not be recorded.
The End of the Program
On September 21, 2017, 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 was signed into law. As a result, the Wisconsin Rental Weatherization Program will be discontinued (“sunset”) as of January 1, 2018. For those of you who own residential rental property, this means that you will no longer be subject to the requirements of the program at such time that you sell or transfer your property. For those professionals who work in the real estate industry, this means that certificates of compliance, stipulations and/or waivers will no longer be required, and the licenses of rental weatherization inspectors will expire as of January 1, 2018. In the meantime, the Department of Safety and Professional Services has posted some information to keep in mind as the sunset date approaches. This can be found at http://dsps.wi.gov/Programs/Industry-Services/Industry-Services-Programs/Rental-Weatherization/