May 19, 2020
Via email to DavidA.Woldseth@wisconsin.gov
Division of Trade and Consumer Protection
Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Dear Rule Making Committee,
I write in support of emergency rule (Wis. Admin. Code Ch. ATCP 134), that prevents landlords from charging late fees or penalties for missed or late rent payments during the public health emergency and for 90 days afterward. As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented job losses across Wisconsin and one of the first problems facing many households is how to pay next month’s rent. Data demonstrates that the poorest 20% of U.S. households—including many workers in low-wage industries such as retail and food service—were spending more than half their income on housing costs even during the economic boom. These families have little or no savings that can help them weather the sudden loss of income stemming from the pandemic much less pay late fees or penalties for missed or late rent payments. It is counter-productive and punitive to impose late fees and penalties under these circumstances.
Homelessness is the inevitable outcome of many evictions. The need for safety and security will become even more important once the eviction moratorium is lifted, and protections for renters will be even more critical as they work to get back on their financial feet. As Governor Evers has pointed out, evictions can pose a direct and serious threat to the health and well-being of Wisconsinites, and ensuring that people are able to keep a roof over their heads to promote social distancing is “critically important” to fighting the spread of the coronavirus. Adding a greater financial burden will only undercut these efforts. Policies such as that being considered by DATCP will positively impact the physical and economic health of our community by allowing renters to have available financial resources necessary to meet their basic needs and will contribute to the stability of our community.
Thank you for considering my comments.
Very truly yours,
Electronically signed by
Marsha M. Mansfield
Director, LIFT Dane