Since January 1, 1985, many properties in Wisconsin have had to meet minimum energy conservation standards at the time of ownership transfer pursuant to Wis. Stats. § 101.122, which directs the Department of Commerce to develop energy conservation standards for certain properties containing residential rental units.
Under § 101.122 (2) (e), the DOC must review the administrative rules adopted for implementation of the Rental Unit Energy Efficiency Program every five years. The latest revision repeals and recreates in total Chapter Comm 67, which becomes effective May 1, 2008.
The following is a summary of the major changes:
- The fees related to the program have been modified, including the elimination of fees for application for exemptions, stipulations and waivers. In addition, the fee for certification stamps is amended to $30.00 from the current $20.00.
- Comm 67 has been completely reorganized into new subchapters: Purpose, Scope and Application; Definitions; Administration and Enforcement; and Rental Unit Energy Efficiency Provisions.
- The cost payback exemption has been eliminated because the minimum technical provisions are based upon achieving a five-year cost payback.
- The definition of “owner-occupied” is amended to state that the owner must occupy the dwelling unit exclusively as his/her primary or secondary residence within the first year of ownership. This change recognizes for purposes of the program that an owner may have two (but no more than two) primary residences.
- Under the current rules, a waiver may be granted if the rental unit is scheduled for demolition within two years. The waiver provision has been amended to clarify that the two year period commences from the date the waiver is validated.
- Similarly, the one year time period for satisfaction of a stipulation by a new owner is clarified to commence at the time that the stipulation is validated.
- Under a stipulation agreement, the new owner may bring the rental unit into compliance using either the code in effect at the time the stipulation was validated or the code requirements in effect at the time the work is completed.
The new rules do not change the properties that are currently excluded from coverage. The rules for mixed-use buildings such as apartments above retail space, remain unchanged as well. Finally, the new rules still require compliance for properties acquired for re-sale and for properties acquired for rehabilitation even if the properties are vacant during the renovation work, if the properties are not re-sold within one year of the transfer.
Kevin King is General Counsel for the WRA.