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Senate approves granting more power to landlords

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin landlords are one step closer to getting more power over their tenants. 

On an 18-15 vote Tuesday, the state Senate approved a package of changes which landlords say would create some much-needed fairness for them. 

Opponents say it would roll back tenants' rights.

Milwaukee Democrat Lena Taylor, a landlord herself, voted against the bill -- as did all 14 other Democrats. The measure now goes back to the Assembly to ratify some amendments. 

That house first approved the package by a 20-vote margin in June. Landlords could dispose of anything tenants leave behind without telling them in advance. 

De Pere Republican Frank Lasee says it's expensive to store those items, and future tenants pay for it. The bill also lets landlords remove improperly parked cars without police issuing tickets first. Lasee says the police are often too busy to handle those kinds of things. 

Also, tenants could be evicted for crimes committed in their units, even if there was no way they could prevent them. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking would be exempt.

Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach said the package was nowhere near being fair to tenants. He said there were 28,000 evictions last year, and he predicted the number would grow under the new changes. 

Just over 3,500 of last year's cases went to court.