Ellen Matheson


Like other cities across the nation, Milwaukee utilizes a mix of regulatory,

statutory, and common law tools to address the problem of substandard rental

housing. This Comment examines the efficacy of those legal tools, in the

process demonstrating that existing remedies offer insufficient protections to

tenants in need of habitable housing. This Comment then proposes a novel

legal strategy that is designed to ameliorate the problem of low-quality,

overpriced rental housing: amending Wis. Stat. § 66.1015 to permit

implementation of a “rent-value correlation rate”—giving municipalities the

option to cap monthly contract rent as a percentage of the assessed property

value. Tenants could use the rent-value correlation rate as an affirmative

defense to eviction. And because tenants would finally owe a financial

obligation commensurate with the substandard quality of contracted housing,

landlords might be motivated to maintain or improve the quality of the premises

in order to restore or increase profit margins.

Included in

Housing Law Commons