MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a lawsuit against Berrada Properties and Joe Berrada on Tuesday. The complaint includes several allegations from issues with the rent agreements to remodeling complaints.
"The standard rental agreements that were used by the defendants included a number of illegal provisions," Kaul said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Those illegal provisions include a requirement that tenants pay attorneys fees for eviction actions, waiving the duty of the landlord to make repairs for tenants and waiving the liability for negligent acts caused by the landlord.
Kaul also said, "until mid-2020 there was a roaches and bed bud addendum that required tenants to pay attorneys fees related to infestations and waive liability for a landlord when an infestation occurred."
In addition to issues with rental agreements, the complaint filed also alleges remodeling projects were done unlawfully and that tenants' properties were entered without proper notice. There are also allegations of unlawful late fees.
In a statement, Berrada Properties said:
“We are aware of the complaint filed yesterday by the State of Wisconsin. Berrada Properties Management, Inc. vehemently denies any assertion of wrongdoing and will vigorously defend its interests. We remain committed to providing high quality housing to serve our tenants in and around the Milwaukee area. We will make no additional comments concerning the pending litigation at this time.”
Collen Foley, executive director of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, said, "The allegations in the complaint are reflective of past behaviors that we encountered."
Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee helps both tenants and landlords. Foley said she's familiar with Berrada and has dealt with his company on eviction complaints. Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee is currently working with 10 people with cases against Berrada.
However, Foley said Berrada has been responsive to previous complaints raised "and changed their business practices to some degree."
Foley said that Berrada Properties owns more than 5,000 apartment units in Milwaukee.
Kaul did not give an exact number of how many people have been impacted by these allegations.
"One of the things we'll see as the discovery process moves forward is precisely how many people have been impacted," Kaul said. "Mr. Berrada is the landlord at numerous properties and some of the allegations relate to the standard agreement, so it's a large number of people that have been impacted by what's alleged."
If you believe your tenant rights are being violated, you can reach out to Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.