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It raised some red flags: Wisconsin REALTORS Association considers suing Ashwaubenon

WRA plans to sue Ashwaubenon
Posted at 3:13 AM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 04:13:46-04
  • The Wisconsin REALTORS Association (WRA) approved financial support for legal services related to filing a lawsuit to challenge the Village of Ashwaubenon’s short-term rental ordinance
  • "We took a quick look at the ordinance, felt it raised some red flags, and we wanted the attorneys to do a little bit deeper dive to make sure that our instincts were correct," WRA Executive Vice President Tom Larson said
  • The Village responded Wednesday, writing, "The Village of Ashwaubenon is confident the Short-Term Rental Ordinance was appropriately enacted based on its home rule authority," in an email to NBC 26
  • The WRA contends that the ordinance singles out short-term rental owners while requirements are not imposed on long-term rentals
  • Video shows a short-term rental owner expressing his thoughts about the ordinance, and details the grounds of WRA's potential suit

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The Wisconsin REALTORS Association plans to sue the Village of Ashwaubenon over what they say are unfair rules for the owners of short-term rentals like Airbnbs. I spoke with the owner of this rental property near Lambeau Field about why this potential lawsuit might have come about.

Lee Aanonson runs the Moose Lodge in Ashwaubenon, a non-profit community, and the house on the property, which the Lodge rents out to Ashwaubenon visitors.

"I think they like the experience of staying in a house instead of a hotel room," Aanonsen said.

Aanonsen says the Lodge remodeled the house to help keep their services going.

"We're trying to realize some return off of it as an investment," Aanonsen said.

But he says the Village's rules are not helping.

"So we're prepared to try to do the things that they want, but it gets more difficult as these restrictions come into play," Aanonsen said.

The restrictions include a six-night limit for rentals, which is within state law. The Wisconsin REALTORS Association says other parts of the ordinance are not within state law, and that's why they're considering suing Ashwaubenon. The WRA's Tom Larson says the ordinance requiring property owners to live near their properties and be available 24 hours per day is a violation of their property rights.

"The challenge comes to kind of the arbitrary nature of regulating stays and activities for people who stay less than than 30 days," Larson said, "And not applying to not applying the same standards to people who stay longer than 30 days are people who don't even rent out their homes.

The Village would not speak on camera, about the potential lawsuit, but wrote this in an email to NBC 26 today:

The Village of Ashwaubenon is confident the short-term rental ordinance was appropriately enacted based on its home rule authority. However, the Village cannot comment further at this time due to the potential litigation.

Back when the ordinance was passed in May, some residents supported stricter regulations on rentals, citing changing neighborhoods and crime and noise concerns.

But still, some rental owners, like Annonsen, think the ordinance is unfair.

"We take care of the properties, we believe in the community, we pay taxes in the community," Aanonsen said. "A We may not live exactly in the community, but we certainly care about it."

The WRA approved financial support for the lawsuit, and says once lawyers further evaluate the ordinance, a lawsuit could be filed in the next several weeks.