Brittingham apartment building

The Tenant Resource Center will be able to serve Dane County residents outside of Madison after funding to operate countywide has largely been restored.

JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

While landlord and tenant relations can sometimes be adversarial, Madison's Tenant Resource Center (TRC) wants, at the very least, for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to the law.  

“It’s part of our larger mission for housing justice,” said Aaron Romens, program director of the TRC. “Let landlords know what rights they have, let tenants know what rights they have. Everybody can sort of see eye to eye.”

To this end, the TRC announced its latest round of statewide seminars for the fall, including a day and a half seminar in Madison.

The Madison seminar is coming to the Dane County Job Center, 1819 Aberg Ave., on Oct. 25 and 26. The local seminar will span two days to allow for “in-depth discussion of Dane County, Madison and Fitchburg ordinances.”

The TRC works to provide an array of information and education services for tenants, landlords and the homeless. It also helps evicted tenants and mediation between tenants and landlords. Those services are helpful after things go wrong, but Romens said the seminars represent a more proactive approach to building better tenant-landlord relations.

The intended audience for the seminars includes landlords, tenants, caseworkers, attorneys or “anyone in the housing rental field to learn the latest in Tenant-Landlord law and procedure,” a press release said.

Romens said the seminars are not tailored to a specific audience, which he thinks is one of their strengths.

“It gives people a chance to sort of learn this stuff, not only from their particular perspective within the world of renting, but also understand where other people's perspectives are coming from,” he said. “It ends up being kind of fruitful in that way.”

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The seminar will walk through the TRC's Housing Counselor Training Guidebook, and see what local, state and federal laws say about topics like eviction, discrimination and security deposits.

Understanding all the laws governing renting relations can be confusing and the TRC wants to give “plain language” explanations, Romens said.

Attendees generally leave enlightened, and the sessions put some myths to bed and distinguishes what’s commonly done versus the legal requirement. As an example, Romens pointed to the false belief that tenants who damage an apartment can only be charged up to the amount of their security deposit. Legally, landlords can actually bill tenants for additional damage, Romens said.

The seminars will also provide plenty of time to answer specific audience questions, Romans said.

Other seminars around the state will take place in Rock County, Appleton, Milwaukee and Stevens Point.