Wisconsin Governor Signs Self-Storage Lien-Law Reform Bill

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an update to the state’s self-storage lien law on April 17 that allows facility operators to send lien notifications via e-mail and reduces the number of notices in newspapers from two to one. Assembly Bill 469 (AB 469) also provides provisions under which operators may have vehicles removed without delinquent tenants’ permission and authorizes operators to sell tenant insurance. Operators may also charge late fees after five days of delinquency rather than five weekdays. All updates go into effect on July 1.

Per the new bill, lien notifications can be sent via e-mail only if there’s confirmation of receipt. Operators may also use mailing methods other than the U.S. Postal Service as long as the service provides evidence of mailing, according to an explanation of changes posted by the legislature. The new law also removes the requirement that notices contain a general description of the tenant’s belongings being stored; however, operators must provide photographs or video of unit contents if requested by the tenant.

Lien sales may now be conducted online as long as the auction website “is reasonably expected to attract bidders.” The measure also gives operators the ability to postpone a live auction if there’s inclement weather on the day of the event.

The updated language also changes how operators must handle proceeds from a lien sale. Any profits must first be applied to satisfy the lien, with any balance returned to the tenant. If the tenant can’t be located, operators must provide the balance to the secretary of revenue.

Operators will now be able to have vehicles towed after more than 60 days of delinquency at the vehicle owner’s expense, without his permission. They must, however, provide the tenant with two default notices, with the second sent after delinquency reaches 60 days.

The tenant-insurance provision allows operators to provide customers coverage through a group or master commercial policy.

AB 469 was supported by the Wisconsin Self Storage Association and national Self Storage Association.

Sources:
Wisconsin State Legislature, Assembly Bill 469
The Monday Morning Globe 4/23/18, SSA, Wisconsin and Nebraska Score Big Legislative Storage Victories

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