Friday, November 4, 2011

Can Holdover Tenants Shoot Landlords Under Castle Doctrine?

More Blogging Live with Vicki McKenna and Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner

Caller: Chris, you touched on the landlord situation, but I have more questions on it. If I have a problem tenant and give him a 10 day notice, and I go to inspect the property after giving proper notice, and he shoots me for going into his home, what is the situation there with the new Castle law?

First, the Castle Doctrine (Wisconsin Legislative Bill AB69) has not yet passed at the time of this broadcast, and Attorney Van Wagner has not read the bill in its entirety.

Under current Wisconsin law, your remedies do not include your own use of force against the tenant; you would have to call upon the Sheriff to assert your right to inspect the property.

A tenant has a legal right to be on the property until such time that the tenant's right to possess has ended; a tenant's right to hold possession can be extinguished by notice upon the date on which that right ends.

VWW is not a landlord-tenant law firm, but speaking from the criminal aspects of the question, a landlord shouldn't go into an apartment outside of law. If I had an apartment to show, I would ask permission to show the apartment and set a time to show it so that my visit wasn't a surprise.

Here you are asking if the holdover tenant can shoot you for entering the apartment without prior and proper notice to the tenant even if a holdover tenant. The answer would be no. There is nothing in current law that would protect the tenant if the tenant shot you if s/he knew that you were coming in to show the apartment.

If you know that the tenant is a problem person, taking any unnecessary risk such as entering the apartment without prior notice would be very risky on your part, and you do not have a right to protect that apartment as though it were your home and go in brandishing a weapon or even with a concealed weapon with an intent to use it.

Helpful information:
Self Defense Laws in Wisconsin
Carrying A Concealed Weapon License