The Wisconsin Legislature recently passed two pieces of legislation, Assembly Bill 479 and Senate Bill 380, that will have a significant impact on private property rights in Wisconsin. The legislation, commonly referred to as the “Homeowners Bill of Rights,” was aimed at improving the regulatory environment at the state and local levels to provide property owners with greater certainty regarding the ownership and the future use of the their property. Several recent United States and Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions made it very clear that the legislature needed to provide uniform, statewide policies that better protected the rights of property owners and eliminated some of the uncertainty associated with the development process.
This legislation was a top priority for the WHA, which engaged in a comprehensive grassroots advocacy campaign with funding from the National Association of REALTORS® to educate and mobilize property owners throughout the state to encourage them to contact their state legislators in support of this legislation.
Wisconsin has a long tradition of people who buy land to save for retirement, a child’s college education, or to pass along to their children. But many local governments are changing zoning laws long after a property has been purchased to prevent property owners from building upon or selling their property. That’s just not fair. Property owners should be able to purchase property without having their rights to build upon or sell their property taken away.
The Homeowners Bill of Rights includes:
- Grandfather properties from changes in local zoning preventing them from being sold or built upon.
- Prohibit local governments from requiring adjacent lots owned by the same person to be merged together into one lot.
- Create a comprehensive state law so that the rights of property owners are protected, regardless of where they buy property in the state.