Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Say Goodbye to Wisconsin’s Rental Weatherization Program

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. Continue reading

Selling Your Home? Be Aware of Your Legal Duty to Disclose Defects

Real estate prices are up again, and you are considering selling your home. It’s a great home and you feel that you’ve done an admirable job maintaining it, but it does have its flaws and defects. Do you need to disclose these defects to your buyer? In Wisconsin the answer is “Yes”. The law requires persons who transfer real property located in this state to furnish a completed Real Estate Condition Report to the prospective buyer no later than 10 days after accepting a sales contract.  Whether you are represented by a realtor or selling your home as a For Sale By Owner, you must comply with these legal requirements.

What is a Defect?

Under the Wisconsin disclosure law a “defect” is defined as any condition that would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property; that would significantly impair the health or safety of the future occupants of the property; or that if not repaired, removed or replaced would significantly shorten or adversely affect the expected normal life of the premises.

What Defects Must You Disclose to Your Buyer?

The Real Estate Condition Report required under Wisconsin law lists several defects and conditions that could potentially apply to a property. When completing the report a seller must honestly identify the applicable defects or conditions of which the seller is aware (of which he or she has notice or knowledge). Such defects or conditions include things such as: defects in the roof, electrical system, plumbing, heating and cooling system, cracks or seepage in the basement walls, boundary line disputes, unsafe levels of radon, along with a long list of other possible defects. The report also has a catch-all question that asks the seller to identify any “other” defects affecting the property of which the seller is aware. Continue reading

Here Lies Wisconsin’s Deadman’s Statute: 1858-2016

Wisconsin has become the 37th state to do away with the so-called “Deadman’s Statute” after a November ruling by the State Supreme Court repealed the 158-year-old law. The intent of the statute was to prevent “interested parties”—anyone with a stake in the outcome of estate litigation—from testifying about conversations they had with a deceased or incompetent person.

The law (Wis. Stat. §§ 885.16 and 885.17) was considered by many to be an outdated relic, confusing, often unfair and sporadically enforced. The motivation behind the law was the idea that a witness who stood to gain a piece of a decedent’s estate could easily make fraudulent claims about conversations had with the now-dead person, who was of course unable to respond or contradict anything the witness said. Continue reading

Drones Are Taking Off, and So Are Laws Regulating Them

droneblogThe growing popularity of drones in the U.S. and around the world has regulators, businesses and every day enthusiasts all scrambling to understand what these unmanned vehicles are capable of and the roles they may play in our daily lives. With corporations openly stating their intent to use drones for everything from delivering packages to supplying internet connectivity, and private citizens buying them for recreational use, the law is having a difficult time trying to keep up with these fast-moving devices.

Near-Misses on the Rise

As drone usage has surged over the last half decade, so has the frequency of dangerous incidents in which they have been involved. On November 14, in the skies above Toronto, a Canadian airliner with 54 people aboard had to use evasive maneuvers to avoid a drone, injuring two crew members in the process. In April, a British Airways aircraft collided with a drone as it prepared to land at London’s Heathrow Airport; fortunately no one was hurt. The FAA indicates there are 3.5 near-misses between drones and aircraft every day in U.S. airspace alone. Continue reading

Lending Money to Family Members? Be Mindful of These Common Pitfalls.

loanWhen one family member lends money to another, both parties often believe that the deal they make is just between the two of them. But in the eyes of legal and tax authorities, the lending business is just that—a business. These seemingly private activities can come with some very business-like strings attached.

Here you’ll learn a few items that you should keep in mind if and when you decide to make a loan to a family member, friend or some other individual in your life.

Think About How the IRS Treats Interest

In a deal between relatives or friends, the “lender” sometimes decides not to charge interest on the loan. Perhaps the loan amount is small, or perhaps there is a feeling of ill will that parties tie to the thought of interest.

But if you do not charge interest, or if you charge a rate lower than something called the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR), be prepared for tax consequences. The IRS will tax the maker of the loan on the amount of interest that the lender should have charged. Continue reading