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Governor Evers Orders Suspension of Evictions and Foreclosures for 60 Days During COVID-19 Crisis

On March 27, 2020, Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #15, which temporarily bans evections and foreclosure actions over the next 60 days. Landlords and financial institutions must take note of the various restrictions imposed by Emergency Order #15.

Provisions Affecting Landlords

First, a landlord’s ability to serve notice terminating a tenancy is limited. Landlords may not serve a notice terminating tenancy on the basis of a tenant’s failure to pay rent. Additionally, a landlord’s ability to serve a notice terminating tenancy for any other reason is also severely restricted. Landlords may not serve notice terminating tenancy for any other reason, unless the notice is accompanied with an affidavit evidencing a reasonable belief that the failure to commence an eviction action will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person. This affidavit must provide the basis for such reasonable belief.

Second, landlords are restricted from commencing a civil action seeking eviction except in limited circumstances. A landlord may only commence a civil action seeking eviction if: 1) the eviction is not based on failure to pay rent; and 2) the judicial action is accompanied with an affidavit evidencing a reasonable belief that the failure to commence an eviction action will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person.

Third, a landlord may not deliver a writ of restitution to the sheriff unless the eviction order was not based on failure to pay rent and it is accompanied with affidavit evidencing a reasonable belief that the failure to commence an eviction action will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person. Likewise, a sheriff may not act on an eviction order unless those conditions are met.

However, if the tenant is holding over on the property, in violation of Wisconsin Statute § 704.25, the Emergency Order does not bar a landlord’s right to seek relief against the hold-over tenant.

Financial Institutions and Mortgagees

Likewise, the Emergency Order limits the rights of financial institutions and other mortgagees. A mortgagee is prohibited from commencing a civil action to foreclose upon real estate. Mortgagees are prohibited from requesting or scheduling a sheriff’s sale of the mortgage premise. Likewise, a sheriff may not conduct sheriff’s sales of mortgaged premises, nor may sheriffs act on any order of foreclosure or execute any writ of assistance related to foreclosure. However, mortgagees may still foreclose against abandoned property under Wisconsin Statute § 846.102.

Order Does Not Relieve Obligation to Pay Rent or Mortgage

The Emergency Order is clear that nothing in the order should be construed as relieving an individual of their obligations to make rent and mortgage payments. Nor does the order relieve an individual of any other obligation it may have under a tenancy or mortgage.

The Emergency Order is effective as of March 27, 2020, and shall remain in effect until May 26, 2020 (60 days).

Landlords and mortgagees will want to think creatively, both in working with their borrowers during this time and in order to protect their rights, as Emergency Order #15 is in effect. During this time, communication and collaboration will be key. Proactive steps to begin working together will lead to a mutually agreeable path through these trying times. 

© 2020 Davis|Kuelthau, s.c. All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 91

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About this Author

Sherry Coley Litigation Attorney Davis Kuelthau
Shareholder

Sherry is a member of Davis|Kuelthau’s Litigation Team practicing in the Green Bay office. Her practice primarily focuses on complex business litigation, with an emphasis on contract disputes, business torts, financial services litigation, real estate foreclosures and work-outs, and tax assessment appeals.

Sherry is also a member of the Intellectual Property Team representing clients in district courts across the country, as well as, in the Ninth and Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. She has litigated patent, trademark, copyright, unfair competition and trade secret cases in a wide...

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Tiffany Woelfel Davis Kuelthau Litigation Attorney
Associate

Tiffany Woelfel is a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice in Davis|Kuelthau’s Green Bay office.

Prior to joining the firm, Tiffany was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and for the Honorable Joe B. McDade, Senior Judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. While in law school, she was also a judicial intern for the Honorable William M. Conley, Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. She gained experience in the federal law and civil procedure, as well as Wisconsin and Illinois state law.

While in law school, Tiffany was on the executive board of the Wisconsin Moot Court board and member of the Wisconsin Law Review. She also gave back to her community and completed over 150 pro bono hours while in school. In 2016, she was named the Dane County Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Law Student of the Year.

Before law school, she double majored in International Business and Non-profit Management at the University of Minnesota. She also spent two years teaching sixth grade math in Mississippi as part of Teach for America.

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