CBS 58 Investigates: Bad Landlords
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee couple claims they are being unfairly kicked out of their home because they reported problems with the property to the city.
Aimee Renaci and Andrew Cannon got a letter from their landlord, Nicholas Rezny telling them their lease was being terminated. The letter came after they called police and the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services to report problems at the duplex they rent on 48th street.
“Issues with trash, issues with flooding in our basement and other code issues,” Renaci said.
They say the problems started when new people moved in upstairs and their landlord Nicholas Rezny, didn’t help.
“The only way there is to communicate with the LLC is through an online app,” Canon said.
So they called police and the Department of Neighborhood services several times. Online records show orders issued for overflowing garbage, the exterior of the building in disrepair and basement flooding
They also called Alderman Michael Murphy (District 10), who says this is not the first call he’s gotten about Rezny.
“I’ve heard complaints from tenants that he’s not responsive and that he’s been argumentative and not helpful,” Ald. Murphy said.
Ald. Murphy says Rezny a problem landlord.
“He’s not taking care of the building code violations,” Ald. Murphy said. “We have to spend a lot of money and time with our inspectors going back out there and back out there.”
Rezny has dozens of properties around the city. CBS 58 Investigates got a list of 40 properties that trace back to Rezny. He uses more than 20 different LLCs, but almost all have the same registered agent with the state: PayMyRent 5, which is registered to Rezny’s wife Emma.
City records show complaints and violations at many of those properties, including rats, litter, work being done without a permit, roach infestation and building in disrepair. Similar to the complaints Renaci and Cannon had. But problems got worse for them.
“Friday, after I spoke with the alderman on the phone, I checked our mail and we received a termination of our lease notice with 28 days to move,” Renaci said.
“Why do you think you’re being evicted?” CBS 58 Investigates asked.
“It’s retaliation for contacting neighborhood services, for contacting police,” Renaci said.
Ald. Murphy says he’s seen landlords retaliate but it’s illegal.
“There’s a number of things we can do,” Ald. Murphy said. “I’m going to use them all in this case, but sometimes you know when you have a situation like this, the landlord can wear down good tenants and then you lose them.”
And the alderman says it’s not just Rezny. Milwaukee has several problematic landlords.
“Bad landlords can have a real mitigating impact, causing huge problems in our community,” Ald. Murphy said. “It impacts their children in terms of going to other schools, it impacts their quality of life in the neighborhood.”
CBS 58 Investigates went to Rezny’s business address and home. We finally reached him by text. He said h would give us a comment on the record but then changed his mind. He then told us his lawyer would send us a comment, but that never happened.
Because of all the problems at the 48th Street duplex, police declared it a nuisance property earlier this month and Rezny could face fines for future calls to the property.
Meanwhile Renaci and Cannon say while don’t think they deserve to be kicked out, they are moving because they don’t feel safe in their home.
Alderman Murphy says before you rent, make sure you look in to the landlord, and check with neighbors and the neighborhood association. And if you have problems, there are resources. You can contact the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services, police and your alderman. There are also legal services available for tenants.