1. More than 3 unrelated adults living in a unit, no matter how many bedrooms, requires a rooming house license. Look around! If you are living in or looking at a rental unit with attic or basement access and there is only one exit, it is an illegal dwelling. Citations could be as much as $5000 and may be issued against the landlord and the tenant for illegal occupancy.
2. A common ploy by unscrupulous landlords is to allow more than three unrelated adults to rent a location, and say something like, “You can just put three names on the lease” or “How many people that live there is up to you. I don’t prohibit subleasing.” When caught by the City of Milwaukee, the landlord then says, “I only rented to a legal number of people. Only those on the lease can stay and they have to pay the entire rent.” This is a very common occurrence. Having to move and find a new apartment in the middle of the semester can be a devastating experience.
3. Check the City of Milwaukee website at www.city.milwaukee.gov and look up the complaint and violation history of the property. Better yet, go to the DNS Website and look up the landlord’s name and see all of the properties they operate. Review all of those records. Most landlords are honorable business people. However, some have very bad records. Don’t be their next victim.
4. Property complaints can be made to the Department of Neighborhood Services Customer Service line at 414-286-2268, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m—4:45 p.m.
Don’t get Evicted!
Renting with more than three unrelated adults put a tenant and the landlord at risk for tickets and eviction.
City Ordinance Administration and Enforcement 200-08-74 (PDF). A rooming house means any building or part of any building or dwelling unit occupied by more than three persons who are not a family* or by a family and more than two other persons for periods of occupancy usually longer than one night and where a bathroom and toilet are shared.
*Family means, unless otherwise specified, a person occupying a dwelling unit, or dwelling unit with one or more persons who are legally related to such occupant by virtue of being husband and wife, son or daughter, uncle or aunt, grandparent or grandchild, niece or nephew, first cousin, mother or father-in-law, all of whom comprise no more than one nuclear family unit per household.