In 2015, Legal Aid attorney Amanda Adrian alerted State of Wisconsin authorities to illegal land contract/rent-to-own practices orchestrated by South Carolina company Vision Property Management and its affiliates. The State’s investigation into Vision culminated in an enforcement action filed June 5, 2017 by the Department of Justice. Attorney General Brad Schimel stated: “Companies in Wisconsin whose business model relies on deceiving consumers have no place in our state.” We agree.
More information is available from the DOJ here.
A client came to Legal Aid because her landlord of 12 years was evicting her and her 12 year old daughter over less than $100. The Department of Housing and Urban Development paid part of the apartment building’s construction costs in exchange for subsidized rent for low income residents; the client paid a percentage of the total rent cost based on her income. When she got a new job with a higher hourly wage, she reported the change to the landlord and paid the higher portion of rent. About six months later, her hours were cut significantly, so she reported her decreased income to the landlord. Her lower income was ignored, she fell behind on the rent, and the landlord started an eviction action.
A Legal Aid attorney took the case and demanded the landlord’s file through discovery and filed a motion to dismiss the case. Before the motion to dismiss was decided, the landlord agreed to dismiss the eviction on terms agreeable to the client.
The family can remain in their home of now 13 years and the daughter does not have to worry about transferring schools.
The client came to the Legal Aid Society after learning her housing subsidy was about to be terminated. The subsidy paid 100% of the rent for her and three children. The cause was that her utility service had been disconnected over a $3000 balance to WE Energies.
Legal Aid investigated the situation and learned that the client would have a hearing with the Milwaukee Housing Authority in about three weeks. She had until then to restore her utility service to keep her apartment and subsidy. The client contacted WE Energies who stated that she would need to pay $600.00 in order to restore her utility service, but even if the client could make that payment (which she could not), she would still be unable to pay her monthly bill going forward.
The attorney at Legal Aid then helped the client acquire a monthly income through W2 benefits and negotiated directly with WE Energies to minimize her bill through all possible programs and subsidies. Ultimately, the client had to pay $200 to have her utilities restored, which she was able to do. With a current account, she was placed on budget billing plan that reduced her payment significantly.
In the end, the client was elated that her utilities were restored, because she was no longer in danger of losing her housing subsidy. With help from Legal Aid Society, the client has regained control of her utility bills, remains in her home with her children, and avoided f bankruptcy.
Just another day helping out the residents of Milwaukee County.
The clients, a married couple, came to Legal Aid to get help with a used car they purchased last year. The couple also purchased an extended warranty for the vehicle. After about 11 months, a routine maintenance check revealed a severe and costly mechanical problem. The car dealership’s first attempt to fix the car failed 10 days after the client’s drove the car home. The dealership was unable to promptly take the car back in for repair, and the warranty expired in the meantime. Attorney Karen Bauer negotiated with the dealership, which eventually relented and agreed to make the $2,000 repair at its cost.
The landlord gave our client notice that her lease would not be renewed at the end of the year. Normally, a landlord can do this, but Legal Aid determined the woman’s apartment was a “Section 42” apartment financed by IRS tax credits. Section 42 housing required a good cause for refusing to renew a lease.
The landlord said the cause for kicking her out was that she let someone live with her off-lease. That was true, but it was her 85 year old mother who stayed with her for 1 or 2 months while undergoing chemotherapy and waiting to get into a senior housing complex. The client has never missed a payment or breached the lease in the 8 years she lived in the same apartment.
Furthermore, the woman suffers from epilepsy and has grand mal seizures nearly every day. The apartment she lives in allows her to walk to her pharmacy and to get food. This is important to her, as she cannot drive with her condition.
Legal Aid went to court on behalf of this woman and convinced the landlord to settle the case. Our client was allowed to stay in her apartment and should be able to stay for as long as she wants.