[Adopted 1-4-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01]
It is the purpose of this article to assure that rental housing in the Village of Balsam Lake ("Village") is secure, safe, and sanitary and is so operated and maintained as not to become a nuisance to the neighborhood or to become an influence that fosters blight and deterioration or creates a disincentive to reinvestment in the community. The operation of rental residential properties is a business enterprise that entails certain responsibilities. Operators are responsible to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to assure that the citizens of the Village who occupy such units may pursue the quiet enjoyment of the normal activities of life in surroundings that are safe, secure and sanitary; free from crimes and criminal activity, noise, nuisances or annoyances; free from reasonable fears about safety of persons and security of property; and suitable for raising children.
Additionally, the Village has a need to communicate with the owner(s) of rental properties in the Village from time to time to abate public safety issues, nuisance complaints, or otherwise communicate information to the property owner and occupants concerning the status of the home or neighborhood; and to effectively conduct this communication, the Village finds it necessary to know who owns, occupies, and manages residential rental properties in the Village.
It is the intent of this article to establish uniform standards that are applicable to all rental dwellings in the Village. This article does not apply to the portion of a rental dwelling that is occupied by the owner. This article is being adopted under the powers granted to the Village under § 61.34, Wis. Stats.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A person designated by the owner of a rental property to act on behalf of the owner.
- This term shall include both applicants for licenses under this article together with all persons who have been granted licenses by the Village.
- DWELLING UNIT
- Any building which contains living facilities, including provisions for sleeping and water and sewer (whether shared or not), and may or may not include eating and cooking, that is located within the Village.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- A person, persons, firm, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or any other entity holding a property interest in the subject real property. "Property owner" also includes a government, governmental unit, or agency thereof. If more than one person or entity owns the subject real property, "property owner" refers to each person or entity holding any portion of the ownership interest in the property, and the property owners' obligations in this chapter are joint and several as to each property.
- RENTAL BUILDING
- A building, or portion thereof, which is designed, used, or intended to contain rental dwelling unit(s).
- A. Any dwelling unit which is offered for rent, lease or hire or which is rented, leased or hired. A dwelling unit shall be deemed rented upon a property owner advertising the availability of the dwelling unit for rent, lease, or hire, for example, but not limited to, hotels/motels, trailer parks, vacation rentals, rooming houses, rented rooms in owner-occupied homes, senior or low-income housing, emergency shelter and transitional housing, etc.
- B. Any dwelling unit which is made available for the purposes of temporary housing of tenants, lodgers, boarders, etc., whether payment is received or not (including, but not limited to, temporary housing of dislodged and homeless people). "Temporary" may include housing for up to a one-year stay. (Note: this does not include an owner-occupied dwelling unit in which the owner allows invited guests to stay on a temporary basis without payment).
- RENTAL PROPERTY
- A tax parcel on which a rental building(s) or rental dwelling unit(s) is (are) located.
- VILLAGE CLERK
- The Village Clerk or his or her designee.
No property owner shall allow a rental dwelling unit(s) to be rented or leased by or occupied for purposes of human habitation unless a rental license has been granted by the Village for that rental dwelling unit.
There shall be no fee for an initial rental license. There shall be no fee for a renewal license if the licensee has had no violations of this article in the most-recent calendar year. However, a late fee may be imposed for license applications which are not filed with the Village Clerk within the deadlines set by this article.
Application and deadlines for license.
Application for a rental license shall be made in writing to the Village Clerk by the owner of the rental property or his/her designated agent. Applications for renewal licenses shall be made by December 31 of any calendar year. In addition, a property owner shall apply for a license within 30 days from the time that a dwelling unit first becomes a rental dwelling unit. At the time of application, the Village Clerk shall provide the applicant with a copy of this article. Prior to issuance or renewal of a rental license, the owner shall submit a completed application to the Village Clerk.
The following persons shall be authorized to sign and submit a rental license application:
If the owner is a natural person, by the owner thereof.
If the owner is a corporation, by an officer thereof.
If the owner is a partnership, by a partner thereof.
If the owner is an unincorporated nonprofit, by the chief executive officer.
If the owner is a government or governmental agency, by the chief executive officer of that governmental unit or agency.
Before any license required by this article shall be issued or renewed, the owner shall submit the following information on forms provided by the Village:
Name, address and phone number of the property owner.
Name, address and phone number of the property manager if different from the property owner.
Name, address and phone number of the designated agent.
The street address and parcel identification number of the property.
Description of the number of units and number of bedrooms in each unit offered for rent.
An acknowledgment that the owner or designated agent has received a copy of this article.
It shall be the responsibility of each applicant to supply to the Village Clerk a correct mailing address for notices under this chapter and to supply a change of address to the Village within 10 days of any such change. Notices shall be mailed by first-class mail to the address provided by the applicant, whose duty it remains at all times to notify the Village should the applicant change its address.
The Village Clerk shall not issue or renew a rental license to any rental property owner who, at the time of his or her application, has any outstanding financial obligations to the Village which remain in whole or in part unpaid as of the time of filing of the application. Obligations subject to this limitation shall include those which are in the name of the property owner, whether or not associated with the management of the rental property in question, or which pertain to the rental property itself. Until all such obligations, together with applicable interest and penalties, have been paid to the Village, the Village Clerk shall withhold the granting or renewal of all licenses under this article to the applicant.
Any outstanding public safety, life safety, or nuisance code violations involving the rental property shall be cause to withhold the issuance of a license.
A yearly license fee shall be imposed on any licensee who has violated this article within the past calendar year and shall be due and payable to the Village of Balsam Lake by January 31 of each year. If the required fee is not paid on time, a late payment fee of $50 will be assessed.
Rental licenses are based on a January 1 to December 31, calendar year.
License fees. Rental license fees and reinstatement fees are to be established by resolution of the Village Board.
Provisional licenses. Rental properties on which an individual dwelling unit has generated two or more police or fire calls during the one-year period immediately preceding the date an application is filed, either for initial or renewal licensing, shall be subject to being processed for a provisional license. The Village Clerk shall, at the time an application is submitted for processing, make inquiry of the Police Chief and Fire Chief to determine whether or not to treat a property owner's application as one for provisional licensing. This shall apply both with respect to rental properties which have been previously licensed, those which are currently licensed and those which are being converted to a rental property.
Police and fire calls that are counted in determining whether a provisional license is required include, but are not limited to, the following types of calls or events:
Calls or events categorized as Part One crimes in the Uniform Crime Reporting System, including homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, auto theft and arson;
Calls or events categorized by the Police Department as miscellaneous juvenile status crimes, liquor offenses or curfew violations; disturbing the peace or harassing communications; property damage; criminal damage to property or trespass; fire alarms as designated by the Fire Chief; public disturbance or nuisance activity; loud party or noise complaints; disorderly juveniles; assault in the fifth degree or non-domestic-related assaults. The Chief of Police will maintain for public inspection a description of the coding system and a list of the codes and crimes included within each of these categories of calls or events;
The Chief of Police has the discretion to count multiple incidents as a single call and to exclude certain incidents in appropriate cases.
Calls will not be counted for purposes of determining whether a provisional license is required where the victim and suspect are "family or household members," as defined in § 968.075, Wis. Stats., and where there is a report of "domestic abuse," as defined in the § 813.12, Wis. Stats. (violation of court orders).
The Police Chief will provide by mail to each provisional licensee a monthly report of calls described in Subsection C(1)(a) above.
A provisional licensee will be eligible to apply for a regular license after police and fire calls are reduced to the level that qualifies for a regular license and have been maintained at that level for at least 12 consecutive months.
The applicant for a provisional license must submit for Board review a mitigation plan for the license period. The mitigation plan must describe steps proposed by the applicant to reduce the number of police and fire calls described in § 247-18A, to a level that qualifies for a regular license. The mitigation plan may include, but is not limited to, such steps as changes in tenant screening procedures, changes in lease terms, security measures, rules and regulations for tenant conduct, and provision of security personnel.
The application with a proposed mitigation plan will be presented to the Village Clerk, together with a recommendation by the Police Chief as to the disposition of the plan. Upon receipt, the application shall be scheduled for review by the Village Board. After giving the applicant an opportunity to be heard and present evidence, the Board will approve, disapprove, or approve with conditions the application and the mitigation plan. If the Board disapproves an application and mitigation plan or approves it with conditions, it will state its reasons for so doing in writing.
The licensee must comply with the mitigation plan as approved or modified by the Board. No later than the 10th day after each calendar month, the licensee will mail or deliver to the Police Chief a written report describing all steps taken in furtherance of the mitigation plan during the preceding month.
Agent required. Any rental property owner who does not live in Wisconsin or, if the owner is other than a natural person, which entity does not maintain a place of business in Wisconsin shall appoint a natural person as agent who resides within Polk County, Wisconsin, upon whom notices may be served pertaining to the administration of this article or any other provisions of the Village Code pertaining to the licensed rental dwelling. It is not sufficient for purposes of meeting the requirement that a corporation have an office in this state that it has designated a registered agent for purposes of service of process upon it. Agents designated under this requirement shall have the ability to personally inspect the dwelling and attend to solving any problems brought to his or her attention by the Village.
Initial license issuance. Beginning January 1, 2016, or upon enactment of this article if later than January 1, 2016, all owners of then operating and occupied rental dwelling units shall apply for a rental license. The Clerk shall check each application to determine if it would require a provisional license and mitigation plan, and if so, a provisional license shall be issued. If a provisional license would not be required, the Clerk shall issue an initial license.
Rental inspections. Any property owner holding a rental dwelling license in the Village who had two or more nuisance activity calls (as defined by this article) in the previous calendar year shall obtain an inspection of the rental dwelling units which were the subject of the call. Any property owner holding a rental dwelling license in the Village for the calendar year 2016 who had two or more nuisance activity calls (as defined by this article) in calendar year 2015 shall obtain an inspection of the rental dwelling units which were subject to the call.
Such inspection(s) shall be completed on or before June 30 of the current calendar year. The owner of any rental dwelling unit within the Village shall be responsible for timely scheduling the inspection with the Building Inspector and shall fully cooperate as necessary with the Building Inspector in conducting the required inspection. The owner of any rental dwelling within the Village who is required to obtain an inspection but has not obtained an inspection by June 30 shall be subject to a revocation of their rental license pursuant to § 247-17I.
In addition, any rental building or rental dwelling unit for which there has been a report of a building code violation or any other condition potentially making the building or unit uninhabitable is subject to inspection by the Village as necessary to protect the safety and health of the public.
Transfer of license. A rental license is transferable to any person who has actually acquired legal ownership of a rental building for the unexpired portion of the term for which it was issued or reissued, provided that an application to transfer the rental license is filed with the Village within 30 days of closing and the transferee is not disqualified from holding a license due to prior revocation or suspension of a rental license or because of nonpayment of financial obligations to the Village. Additionally, in order for a property to be eligible for a license transfer, all fees, charges, interest, and penalties outstanding against the property shall be paid to the Village prior to approval of a license transfer. A rental license shall terminate the day following closing of a rental property transfer upon either of the following events:
License suspension, revocation, denial and nonrenewal.
The Village Board may revoke, suspend, deny or decline to renew any license issued under this article upon the following grounds:
False statements on any application or other information or report required by this article to be given by the applicant or licensee.
Failure to pay any license or reinstatement fee required by this article.
Failure to correct deficiencies noted in notices of violation of the Minimum Housing Code (Chapter 247, Article VII) in the time specified in the notice.
Any other violation of applicable provisions of the Village Code.
Failure to obtain an inspection pursuant to the inspection provisions of this article.
No action will be taken by the Village Board to revoke, suspend, deny, or not renew a rental license without holding a public hearing upon written notice which is sent to the property owner at his or her last-known address, and any affected tenants, if known, a minimum of 10 days prior to the hearing. If the Village has no record of the tenants, the Village shall post notice on the main entry door of the rental building a minimum of 10 days prior to the hearing.
The Board shall give due regard to the frequency and seriousness of the violations, the ease with which such violations could have been cured or avoided and good-faith efforts to comply and shall issue a decision to deny, not renew, suspend or revoke a license only upon written findings.
The Board may suspend, revoke, deny or not renew a license for part or all of a rental property.
Upon a decision to revoke, suspend, deny or not renew a license, no new application for the same facility will be accepted for a period of time specified in the Board's written decision, not exceeding one year. Such new applications shall be accompanied by a reinstatement fee as required by this article.
A written decision to revoke, suspend, deny or not renew a license or application shall specify the part or parts of the facility to which it applies. Thereafter, and until a license is reissued or reinstated, no rental units becoming vacant in such part or parts of the facility may be re-let or occupied. Revocation, suspension, denial or nonrenewal of a license shall not excuse the owner from compliance with all terms of this article for as long as any units in the facility are occupied. Failure to comply with all terms of this article during the term of revocation, suspension, denial or nonrenewal is a misdemeanor and grounds for extension of the term of such revocation or suspension or continuation of nonrenewal, or for a decision not to reinstate the license, notwithstanding any limitations on the period of suspension, revocation, denial or nonrenewal specified in the Village Board's written decision or in Subsection D of this section.
Obligations of licensee.
Report changes in ownership. The licensee must report to the Village Clerk any changes in the identity of the owner, including a change in the majority shareholder or shareholders and officers in the case of corporations. The licensee must report a change in ownership at least 30 days before closing. Barring full compliance with § 247-17H, above, a license issued under this article shall not be transferred to the new owner of the rental property.
Display. Licenses issued under this article must be displayed on the premises of the rental property and produced upon demand of a prospective tenant or officer of the Village of Balsam Lake.
Tenant register. The licensee must, as a continuing obligation of its license, maintain a current register of tenants and other persons who have a lawful right to occupy the rental units. In its application, the licensee must designate the person or persons who will have possession of the register.
The Village Board finds that any rental dwelling unit which has generated two or more nuisance calls within a twelve-month period to the Fire or Police Department has received more than the level of general and adequate police and fire services and places an undue pressure and inappropriate burden upon the taxpayers of the Village. The Village Board further finds that owner(s) of rental properties who chronically fail to control the use of their properties substantially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life, health and safety of the community. The Village Board therefore directs the Chief of Police to charge owners of such properties with the costs of abating nuisance violations at their rental properties at which such nuisance activities chronically occur and, in appropriate cases, to process revocation or suspension of or alteration of a license to provisional status.
For purposes of this section, "nuisance activity" includes the following activities, behavior or conduct whenever engaged in by a person on the rental property:
Violation of laws relating to the possession of controlled substances, as defined in § 961, Wis. Stats., and/or § 240-1 of this Code.
Violation of § 947.01 (disorderly conduct), Wis. Stats., and § 240-4 of this code (public nuisances).
The unlawful sale of intoxicating liquor or 3.2% malt liquor.
Violation of laws relating to prostitution as defined in § 944, Wis. Stats., or § 227-4 of this Code.
Unlawful use or possession of a firearm or weapon in violation of § 941.20, Wis. Stats., or § 240-2 of this Code.
Violation of § 946.41, Wis. Stats., or § 240-1 of this Code, (interference with a peace officer).
Crimes of violence described in § 940, Wis. Stats.
Crimes involving illegal possession of firearms as defined in §§ 941.23, 941.26, 941.28, 941.29 and 948.60, Wis. Stats.
Gambling as defined in § 945.02, Wis. Stats.
The production or creation of excessive noise.
The sale, offering for sale, bartering or giving away of any intoxicating liquors or fermented malt beverages under circumstances in which a license is required under § 125, Wis. Stats.
Battery, or substantial or aggravated battery, as defined in § 940.19, Wis. Stats.
The selling or giving away of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 years.
The owning, keeping, having or harboring of any animal or bird which causes a disturbance of the peace.
Misuse of emergency telephone numbers.
An act of harassment as defined at § 947.013, Wis. Stats.
Possession, manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance or related offenses as defined in § 961, Wis. Stats.
Enforcement and administration.
The Police Chief is responsible for enforcement and administration of this § 247-18. The Police Chief may delegate authority to take any action authorized under this section.
Upon determination by the Police Chief that a nuisance activity, as described in Subsection A(2), has occurred on a licensed rental property, the Police Chief will give notice to the licensee of the violation and direct the licensee to take steps to prevent further violations.
If a second instance of nuisance activity of the licensed rental property occurs within 12 months of an incident for which a notice in Subsection B(2) was given, the Police Chief will notify the licensee of the violation and will require the licensee to submit a written report of the actions taken, and proposed to be taken, by the licensee to prevent further nuisance activity of the premises. This written report must be submitted to the Police Chief within five days of receipt of the notice of nuisance activity of the premises and must detail all actions taken by the licensee in response to all notices of nuisance activity of the premises within the preceding three months.
If a third instance of nuisance activity of the licensed rental property occurs within 12 months after any two previous instances of nuisance activity for which notices were given to the licensee pursuant to this subsection, the rental license for the properties may be denied, revoked, suspended or not renewed. The Police Chief will initiate an action to deny, revoke, suspend, or not renew a license under this section and pursuant to § 217-17I. The Police Chief will give written notice to the licensee of a hearing before the Village Board to consider such denial, revocation, suspension or nonrenewal. Such written notice will specify all violations of this section and state the date, time, place and purpose of the hearing. The hearing will be held no less than 10 days and no more than 30 days after giving such notice. Following the hearing, the Village Board may deny, revoke, suspend or decline to renew the license for all or any part or parts of the licensed premises or may grant a license upon such terms and conditions as it deems necessary to accomplish the purposes of this section.
Provisional license status after third instance of nuisance activity.
After a third instance of nuisance activity of the licensed rental property as defined in Subsection B(4), the Police Chief may place the rental property license into provisional license status under § 247-17C. A licensee may request the Police Chief to reconsider the determination to place the license into provisional status if the licensee disputes the occurrence of a third instance of nuisance activity of the licensed property. A request for reconsideration must be submitted in writing to the Police Chief within 10 days after the licensee has received notice that the license will be placed into provisional status.
In addition to or in lieu of seeking to revoke, suspend or nonrenew a license, the Police Chief shall assess against the property all costs of responding to the third and any additional instances of nuisance activity on the rental property within a twelve-month period of time after the first instance of nuisance activity to which the Village responded. Notice of such assessment shall be provided to the owner and shall be referred to the Village Clerk for collection purposes in accord with § 227-7.
If a licensee brings an eviction action against a resident as a result of nuisance activity as defined in this section, and the licensee does not prevail in the eviction action, the instance of nuisance activity will be excluded by the Police Chief for enforcement purposes under this subsection.
For purposes of this subsection, second and third instances of nuisance activity will be those which:
No licensee shall evict, threaten to evict, or take any other punitive action against any tenant who, by reason of good faith, calls Village officials related to public safety or property maintenance concerns. This section shall not prohibit the eviction of tenants from a rental dwelling for unlawful conduct of a tenant or invitee, or for a failure to pay rent as required by a lease.
When the conduct of any license holder or its agent, representative, employee or lessee or the condition of its dwelling is detrimental to the public health, safety and general welfare as to constitute a public nuisance under Chapter 227 of the Village Code, the Police Department or other persons designated by the Village Board shall have the authority to take any enforcement actions provided by that chapter along with summarily condemning or posting for no occupancy such area of the rental dwelling.
In any case where a provision of this article is found to be in conflict with a provision of any zoning, building, fire, safety or health ordinance or code of this Village, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety of the people shall prevail. In any case where a provision of this article is found to be in conflict with a provision of any other ordinance or code of this Village which establishes a lower standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety of the people, the provisions of this article shall prevail, and such other ordinances or codes are hereby declared to be ineffective to the extent that they may be found in conflict with this article.
If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this article is for any reason held to be invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this article.
Emergencies. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, to protect the public health and safety, the Village may take any necessary action to respond to emergency situations and dangerous conditions.
Razing buildings. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, the Village may take action to raze a rental building pursuant to Wis. Stats., § 66.0413.
Village-owned property is not subject to this article except that if a Village owned property is the subject of two or more nuisance activity calls within a calendar year, the Village Board shall review the calls and prepare a written plan for addressing the nuisance activity to prevent further occurrences.