More landlords join lawsuit against La Crosse

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Thirty-four landlords are suing the City of La Crosse over its residential rental inspection ordinance that was revised in the spring.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said the ordinance isn't meant to target landlords.

“It's due to the need for making sure we have safe housing, that we are revitalizing our neighborhoods,” said Kabat.

Attorney Bernardo Cueto who's representing the landlords, said the ordinance is a violation of 2013 Wisconsin Act 76 which took effect March 1.

“The state of Wisconsin pretty much said cities you cannot require more of landlords, more information of landlords, than what is required under state and federal law unless you require it of all residential property owners,” said Cueto.

The ordinance said landlords have to apply for a registration application, which ranges from $25 a year for a single unit to $65 a year for a building with 48 units or more.

There's a $100 dollar penalty if this isn't done within 30 days of July 1 each year.

Kabat also said inspections are done every five years, which is part of the registration fee.

“We have some of the lowest valued housing, and we have some of the greatest needs when it comes to quality and code enforcement,” said Kabat.

Plus, landlords are required to provide the city with contact information in case of an emergency.

Any registration that is no longer in force is subject to a fine between $500 and $3,000 per day.

“Basically the state of Wisconsin was getting tired of cities like La Crosse making it much more difficult rent,” said Cueto.

A ruling in the lawsuit is expected on August 15.

Until then, the landlords who filed the lawsuit don't have to comply with the ordinance.

Landlords who aren't part of the lawsuit still have to follow the ordinance.


LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- The number of landlords suing the City of La Crosse over a new ordinance has grown significantly.

Initially, two landlords filed a lawsuit over the new requirement that they register their property annually and pay a fee. More than 30 landlords, representing some 200 or more rental properties in the city, have joined the lawsuit.

Their attorney, Bernardo Cueto, says that according to state law, the city can't require any more information than it does from residential property owners.

Mayor Tim Kabat says the new ordinance was not meant to discriminate against rental properties, but to make sure they are safe for renters and to help revitalize deteriorating neighborhoods.

A judge is expected to make a ruling on the lawsuit next month.

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