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330 East Kilbourn Avenue, Suite 1170
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

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Milwaukee business insurance lawyerBy Attorney Christopher Strohbehn

Coronavirus is greatly affecting the way businesses normally operate when using leased property. Some businesses have been forced to shut down because of government-required closures, and other landlords are choosing to close properties on their own. What should a business owner consider if they are not able to operate their business in their leased space?

Obligations of the Landlord Are Independent of the Obligations of the Tenant

Landlords and tenants are reviewing their leases to determine if any remedies are available to tenants due to a business shut down caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. A normal lease will state that the payment of rent by the tenant is an obligation independent from the obligations of the landlord according to the lease. Under most common commercial leases, the tenant will not have the right to offset rent unless the lease specifically includes this right. Unfortunately for tenants, most leases state that landlords are not liable for a building’s closure or for failure to provide access, utilities or services in emergency situations, and thus an offset of rent is not required by the landlord.

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Milwaukee, WI real estate lawyer coronavirus eviction foreclosureBy Russell J. Karnes

Because of the public health emergency caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), on March 27, 2020, Wisconsin’s Governor and the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued an emergency order prohibiting landlords from moving forward with eviction actions and mortgagees from moving forward with foreclosures. In doing so, the Governor is mirroring what had effectively already been done by court order in Milwaukee and Dane Counties.

The Governor’s statewide order goes further than the prior court orders by prohibiting landlords from serving notices for failure to pay rent (five-day notices) and any other notices terminating tenancy unless necessary to protect against serious physical harm to another (i.e. in cases of domestic violence). Landlords are also prohibited from filing eviction actions and from having writs of restitution served by the sheriff.

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Milwaukee landlord/tenant lawyer coronavirus evictionsBy Attorney Russell J. Karnes

The public health emergency caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has caused Wisconsin Circuit Courts in Dane County and Milwaukee County and the Wisconsin Supreme Court to issue orders that significantly affect the rights of landlords and tenants. The City of Milwaukee and State of Wisconsin health departments will also issue Stay-at-Home, or Safer-at-Home orders that further limit the activities of landlords and tenants. 

How Do Court Orders Staying Evictions Impact Landlords and Tenants?

On March 18, 2020, a Judge in Milwaukee County issued an order suspending the enforcement of all pending writs of restitution (evictions) in Milwaukee County. Dane County’s presiding Judge issued an order suspending all evictions as of March 17, 2020. The basis for these orders was the need to prevent homelessness during the pandemic. On March 22, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order suspending in-person hearings in most civil actions that will effectively stop any new eviction actions from being heard until at least May 1, 2020.

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Milwaukee, WI real estate litigation lawyers for adverse possessionBy Attorney Russell Karnes

Adverse possession, also loosely described as “squatter’s rights,” allows trespassers who openly inhabit a piece of property to gain possession of that property if they meet certain conditions. In other words, if a trespasser devotes enough time caring for a piece of property that the owner has abandoned or possibly forgotten about, and the owner makes no opposition to the trespasser and his/her actions, a court may award ownership of the property to the trespasser. To resolve issues related to adverse possession, it is important to work with a qualified real estate attorney.

Wisconsin Adverse Possession Laws

According to Wis. Stat. § 893.25, an individual must occupy property publicly for at least 20 years before ownership can be granted. In addition to this requirement, a person who wishes to gain possession of property must typically prove the following factors:

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Milwaukee real estate lawyer for mechanic’s liensBy Attorney Jaclyn Kallie

Homeowners often hire a general contractor to perform work on their property. The general contractor, in turn, may hire subcontractors to fulfill specific tasks. When the homeowner pays the general contractor their fee, they may assume that the general contractor will be found at fault if a subcontractor is not paid by the general contractor. However, in some cases, a mechanic's lien may be placed against the homeowner if a subcontractor does not receive payment, and real estate litigation may be necessary to settle issues related to these types of liens.

What Is a Mechanic's Lien?

Mechanic's liens laws, also sometimes called “construction liens, ” provide security for laborers and suppliers. The term "mechanic" refers to a physical laborer,  such as a construction worker. A lien is the right given to another party by a homeowner to secure a debt. Mechanic's liens give homeowners the incentive to provide laborers with timely and reasonable payment for their work by putting the homeowner’s land up as collateral if payment is not received.

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