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5 ways to help renters facing eviction in Dane County

Where to begin as the country faces a possible wave of evictions.

Our partners at Madison Minutes produced this story, and we are republishing it here with their permission. Madison Minutes is an email.

This article is intended to share ways that people can help those facing eviction. If you are worried that you may be evicted yourself, read our companion article here.

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There are several reasons renters get evicted. The most common is for nonpayment of rent.

Evictions for nonpayment of rent were paused for most of the pandemic, but a recent Supreme Court ruling has allowed them to begin again.

It’s hard to say how many people this could affect in Dane County. Two experts recently estimated 9% of Dane County renters are behind on rent. Professionals working in rental assistance locally say they’ve seen increases in requests for help since the moratorium ended.

“What we saw on our end was a pretty significant surge in both tenants and landlords reaching out and applying for assistance,” Robin Sereno, executive director of Tenant Resource Center, said.

Here are five ways you can take action to help those who are facing eviction:

Donate. The Tenant Resource Center, Freedom Inc., Urban Triage, and the Latino Consortium for Action are all doing work in rental relief.

Post flyers about tenant rights. Do you have access to a community bulletin board? The Tenant Resource Center has created flyers outlining renter rights. Download the English version here and the Spanish version here.

Talk to your friends who own rental properties. Evictions have ripple effects in many areas of society. Kids move schools. Adults struggle to get to work. Properties may stay vacant.

Mitch is a clinical law professor who directs the Neighborhood Law Clinic at the University of Wisconsin. He also owns rental properties himself.

“Whether or not you own or rent rental property, the lack of stability in the eviction crisis really does impact everybody,” he said. “And the way that you can help if you’re not donating or volunteering is to educate folks about how interconnected that system is and how to see one another as human beings.”

Offer to help communicate with landlords. If someone ends up in court for an eviction, judges will often look “really favorably” on cases where the tenant kept an open line of communication with the landlord, Sereno said.

However, renters often avoid communicating out of fear that it will be awkward or unpleasant. A friend can serve as a second set of eyes or encouragement.

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“Sometimes you just need somebody with you,” Sereno said.

Read and share this companion article about how eviction works. Eviction is a confusing process. In addition to explaining the process, this article includes links to several local resources that can help renters pay what is owed or negotiate a path forward with landlords.

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