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Racine, WI – Being evicted from a rental property can be a stressful and confusing experience for many individuals and families. 

There are certain steps that renters can take to protect their rights and potentially avoid or delay an eviction.

One of the first things that renters should do if they are facing eviction is to seek legal assistance. Legal Action of Wisconsin, a non-profit organization, provides free legal services to low-income individuals, including assistance with eviction cases. 

Renters should also be aware of the proper legal process for eviction in Racine County. 

Esther Roberts, a housing advocate in Racine, said that while an eviction is a legal process, some tenants don’t have that experience. When Roberts worked for the City of Racine in the City’s rents program, she recalls an extreme case where the landlord required the tenant to fix a toilet that had been broken for three months. Not having the money to fix it, the family left in the middle of the night abandoning all of their belongings.

“The toilet was the most disgusting thing,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. But it was too late for that family. It was too late. They didn’t get evicted in a sense of policy. They got evicted in the sense that the landlord pushed them out.”

It is imperative to protect one’s own belongings. Having a renter’s insurance will just do that for you. Remember, renters insurance is not required by law in Wisconsin, but your landlord might require it.

What you should know

Landlords are required to provide tenants with a written notice of the eviction and the reason for it, and then file a legal action in court. Tenants then have the opportunity to respond to the eviction complaint and present a defense, according to Wisconsin state laws.

Another important step for renters facing eviction is to keep records of all communication with the landlord, including any notices or complaints about the rental property. So if the landlord asks you to pay to fix a leaky faucet, or the well water has a funny taste but the landlord won’t fix it, get those statements in writing.

Renters should also be aware of their rights regarding the return of security deposit, as landlords are required to return the deposit within 21 days after the tenant vacates the property. The tenant should also be aware of the reasons why the security deposit may not be returned. 

According to Wisconsin state laws, a security deposit may not be returned if the tenant has damaged the property, failed to pay rent, or if the landlord has to use the deposit to cover unpaid bills.

Where to get help

In addition to seeking legal assistance and understanding the legal process, renters facing eviction can also consider other options to try to resolve the situation. Renters may be able to find alternative housing options, such as public or subsidized housing. The Racine-Kenosha Community Action Agency also administers the Wisconsin Emergency Rent Assistance program and Racine County has the Here to Help Program,.

In summary, if you are facing eviction in Racine County, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible, understand the legal process, keep records of all communication with the landlord, and consider other options such as negotiation and alternative housing.

Resources:

A new horizon

If you are struggling to pay rent, you might also look into improving your income earning potential by going back to school. 

Gateway Technical College has grants people can apply for.

The city is undertaking the smart city initiative and has planned to expand high-speed internet and support interested businesses to test different innovations.

Officials plan to expand the educational and training opportunities that are currently present in the city.


Unlocking Racine

Unlocking Racine is a year-long solutions-based multi-media project which is shedding much-needed light on the housing instability crisis in Racine County. The Racine County Eye, which includes the Kenosha Lens, is committed to serving our local communities with integrity. We are your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with local news.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.