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Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Law: FAQs

In this section, we have covered the most frequently asked questions related to “Wisconsin landlord tenant law“.

How much can I charge for rent?
Wisconsin does not restrict the amount of rent a Landlord is permitted to charge. Therefore, a landlord may charge whatever he feels necessary. Additionally, the state of Wisconsin has not established rent control or stabilization.

May I charge an application fee?
A landlord may require an applicant to pay the landlord’s actual cost( up to $20) to obtain a credit report from a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on a nationwide basis. The landlord shall notify the prospective tenant of the charge before requesting the consumer credit report, and shall provide the prospective tenant with a copy of the report. A landlord may not require a prospective tenant to pay for a consumer credit report before the landlord requests a such a report.

May I charge a late fee?
Late rent fees or late rent penalties may be charged only as specifically provided in the rental agreement. Before assessing a fee, a landlord shall apply all rent prepayments received from that tenant to offset the amount of rent owed by the tenant.

May I charge a returned payment fee?
A tenant who issues a check that is not honored because either the tenant does not have an account with the financial institution or because the tenant does not have sufficient funds in his or her account, is liable for all reasonable costs and expenses in connection with the collection of the amount for which the check or draft was written.

Is there a limit on the amount I may collect for a security deposit?
Although a limit is not imposed by the state. There are limits imposed in the city of Madison and Fitchburg.

  • Wisconsin landlord tenant law does not require payment of interest on the security deposit. However, each municipality may have their own requirements.
  • In the City of Madison, a 5% simple interest must be paid on a security deposit.

Please Note: It is important to check with your local jurisdiction to get accurate information regarding limits placed on security deposits and how much interest must be paid.

Important: Before a landlord may accept a security deposit, there are certain procedures that must be followed. For more information see the Wisconsin Move-In/Move-Out Condition Checklist.

How long does it usually take for eviction?
It depends and varies, but could take approximately 4-6 weeks to obtain possession.

What must I do to inspect my property? Do I have to notify the tenant?
Except for an emergency situation, a landlord has the right to inspect, repair and how the premises at reasonable times with 12 hours notice. The tenant shall not unreasonably with-hold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling and may allow for a shorter notice.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.

What do I do if my tenant moves and leaves property behind?
If a tenant vacates the premises and leaves personal property, the landlord may store the personal property, on or off the premises, with a lien on the property for the actual and reasonable cost of removal and storage. The landlord shall give written notice of the storage to the tenant within 10 days after the charges begin. The landlord shall give the notice either personally or by ordinary mail addressed to the tenant’s last-known address and shall state the daily charges for storage. The landlord may not include the cost of damages to the premises or past or future rent due in the amount demanded for satisfaction of the lien. The landlord may not include rent charged for the premises in calculating the cost of storage. Medicine and medical equipment are not subject to the lien and the landlord shall promptly return them to the tenant upon request.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?
There are no statutory regulations regarding the requirement of a tenant by a landlord to obtain rental insurance.

Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?
If the leased premises was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must provide all tenants with the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and the Lead-Based Paint EPA Pamphlet.

What a landlord Cannot do in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, if a tenant complains to the landlord about the security deposit, complains to a government agency, or exercises a legal right, the landlord is not allowed to terminate the lease, refuse to renew it, or fine the renter.

How much can landlord raise rent in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, there are no state laws that regulate how much a landlord can raise the rent. Landlords are free to set the rent at whatever amount they choose, as long as it is not discriminatory and not in violation of any lease agreements. However, it’s worth noting that some cities in Wisconsin have local rent control laws, so it’s best to check with the city government to see if there are any restrictions on rent increases in the specific area. Additionally, under the lease agreement, the landlord and tenant can agree on the terms of rent increase, if any.

What is the time frame within which a landlord must make repairs in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, landlords are required to make all necessary repairs to keep the rental property in a safe and habitable condition, this is known as the “implied warranty of habitability.” However, there is no specific time frame outlined in the Wisconsin landlord tenant laws for how long a landlord has to make repairs. The best course of action would be to check the lease agreement, as it may contain specific information about the time frame for repairs.

It is also worth noting that if the repairs are urgent, such as a broken heating system in the winter, the tenant has the right to contact local authorities for emergency repairs. Furthermore, if the landlord does not make necessary repairs in reasonable time, the tenant may have the right to take certain legal actions, such as withholding rent or breaking the lease agreement.

What is the minimum notice period a landlord must provide to a tenant before ending a tenancy in Wisconsin?

According to Wisconsin landlord tenant law, the amount of notice a landlord must give to a tenant before ending a tenancy varies depending on the type of tenancy and the reason for ending it.

For month-to-month tenancies, landlords must give at least 28 days’ notice before ending the tenancy. This applies to both the landlord and tenant, if either party wants to end the tenancy.

For week-to-week tenancies, landlords must give at least 14 days’ notice before ending the tenancy.

In case of non-compliance with lease agreement, the landlord must give the tenant at least 7 days’ written notice to correct the violation, and if the tenant does not take action to remedy the violation within the given time, the landlord may end the lease agreement.

It’s worth noting that these are minimum notice periods, the lease agreement may require a longer notice period or the parties may have agreed on a longer notice period.

Additionally, if the landlord wants to end the tenancy for non-payment of rent, they must give the tenant a 5-day notice to pay rent or vacate the property before proceeding with an eviction.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific notice requirements, and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the Wisconsin landlord tenant laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord.

Can you be evicted in Wisconsin for no reason?

A Wisconsin eviction procedure forbids a landlord from evicting a tenant without a compelling reason. The tenant is permitted to remain until the conclusion of the renting period provided they do not break any rules.

What are the permissible deductions a landlord can make from a security deposit in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, a landlord can use a tenant’s security deposit to cover damages to the rental property caused by the tenant, or to cover unpaid rent or other charges specified in the lease agreement. However, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages and the cost of repairs within 14 days after the tenant vacates the rental property.

A landlord may deduct from the deposit only the actual, reasonable costs of repairing or cleaning the premises, or to recover unpaid rent or other charges specified in the lease agreement. A landlord may not deduct normal wear and tear from the deposit.

What are the laws for discrimination in housing in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, it is illegal to discriminate against any person in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on certain protected classes. These protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, family status, and lawful source of income.

The Wisconsin landlord tenant laws prohibits housing discrimination based on these protected classes in the following areas:

  • In regards to the sale or rental of a housing unit
  • In the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental of a dwelling
  • In the provision of services or facilities in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling
  • In the financing of a dwelling

It’s also worth noting that the laws also prohibit discriminatory advertising in the sale or rental of housing, such as using language that indicates a preference for or against certain protected classes.

It’s important to note that the laws for discrimination in housing may also vary in municipalities or cities, so it’s best to check with the local government for any additional protections.

Can a landlord change the terms of a lease without the tenant’s agreement in Wisconsin?

As per Wisconsin landlord tenant law, a landlord cannot change the terms of a lease without the tenant’s agreement, as a lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant. It is the responsibility of both landlord and tenant to adhere to the terms of the lease agreement.

However, in some cases, a lease agreement may include a clause allowing the landlord to make changes to the lease with a certain amount of notice. For example, a lease may include a clause that allows the landlord to change the terms of the lease with 30 days’ notice. In these cases, the landlord must provide the tenant with the proper notice and follow the procedures outlined in the lease agreement.

It’s also worth noting that a landlord cannot change the terms of a lease in a discriminatory manner, or in a manner that would violate the state or federal fair housing laws.

If the landlord wants to make changes to the lease and the tenant does not agree, the landlord must wait until the lease expires before making changes, or may offer a new lease agreement to the tenant with the new terms.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific lease modification requirements, and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord in Wisconsin.

How can a tenant file a complaint against a landlord for non-compliance with state laws in Wisconsin?

As per the Wisconsin landlord tenant law, a tenant can file a complaint against a landlord for non-compliance with state laws by contacting the appropriate agency for resolution.

If the complaint concerns issues such as repairs, maintenance, or habitability, the tenant can contact the local building or housing inspector to report the problem and request an inspection. If the inspector finds that the landlord is not in compliance with state laws, the inspector may order the landlord to make repairs or take other necessary action.

If the complaint concerns discrimination, the tenant can contact the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division, to file a complaint of housing discrimination. This division is responsible for enforcing the state’s fair housing laws.

If the complaint concerns non-compliance with the lease agreement, the tenant can file a complaint in small claims court or seek mediation services.

It’s always best to document any issues or complaints, including date, time, and any correspondence with the landlord, and to seek legal advice or representation if necessary.

Are landlords responsible for providing pest control services in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the rental property in a safe and habitable condition, which includes addressing any pest infestations.

According to the Wisconsin Administrative Code, landlords are responsible for providing extermination services for the following pests: cockroaches, bed bugs, mice, rats, and other pests that can cause health hazards.

If the tenant has caused the pest infestation through neglect or failure to maintain the unit, the landlord can charge the tenant for the cost of extermination services. However, if the infestation is caused by the landlord’s failure to maintain the property, the landlord must bear the cost of extermination services.

It’s also worth noting that if the tenant suspect the presence of pests and notifies the landlord, the landlord must take action within a reasonable time frame to solve the problem. If the landlord does not take action, the tenant may have the right to take certain legal actions, such as withholding rent or breaking the lease agreement.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific pest control requirements, and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord in Wisconsin.

Are there any laws in Wisconsin protecting tenants from retaliation by landlords?

Yes, there are laws in Wisconsin that protect tenants from retaliation by landlords.

Under Wisconsin state law, landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants who have exercised their legal rights, such as complaining about habitability issues or requesting repairs, or for being a member of a tenant’s union. Retaliation can include actions such as increasing rent, decreasing services, or evicting the tenant.

Additionally, landlords are prohibited from terminating a lease agreement in retaliation for the tenant’s exercise of their legal rights.

If a tenant believes that their landlord has taken retaliatory actions against them, they may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division, or seek legal representation.

It’s always best to document any issues or complaints, including date, time, and any correspondence with the landlord, and to seek legal advice or representation if necessary.

What are the laws for handling repairs and maintenance requests in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, landlords are responsible for maintaining the rental property in a safe and habitable condition, known as the “implied warranty of habitability”. This means that the landlord must make all necessary repairs to keep the rental property in a safe and livable condition.

Tenants have the right to request repairs and maintenance, and landlords must respond to these requests in a timely manner. If the repairs are necessary for the health and safety of the tenant, the landlord must make them as soon as possible. If the repairs are not urgent, the landlord must make them within a reasonable time frame.

It is also worth noting that tenants have the right to contact local authorities for emergency repairs, if the landlord fails to make them in a timely manner.

If the landlord fails to make necessary repairs, the tenant may have the right to take certain legal actions, such as withholding rent, breaking the lease agreement, or filing a complaint with the local building or housing inspector.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific repair and maintenance requirements and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord in Wisconsin.

Can a landlord in Wisconsin terminate a lease agreement early for non-payment of rent?

In Wisconsin, a landlord can terminate a lease agreement early for non-payment of rent. However, they must follow a specific process in order to do so.

The landlord must first provide the tenant with a written notice to pay the rent or vacate the property. This notice must be in writing, and must give the tenant at least 5 days to pay the rent or vacate the property.

If the tenant does not pay the rent or vacate the property within the 5-day notice period, the landlord can file a complaint with the court to begin the eviction process.

Once the court issues a judgment for possession of the rental property, if the tenant still fails to vacate the rental property, the landlord can request the court to issue a writ of restitution, which authorizes the sheriff to physically remove the tenant from the rental property.

What are the laws for dealing with utilities and utility billing in rental properties in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, there are specific laws regarding utilities and utility billing in rental properties.

Landlords are generally responsible for providing and maintaining essential services such as heat, hot water, and electricity, unless the lease agreement states otherwise. Landlords must also ensure that the utilities are in working order and the tenant has access to them.

Tenants are responsible for paying for utilities, such as gas, electricity, and water, unless the lease agreement states otherwise. If the lease agreement specifies that the tenant is responsible for paying for utilities, the landlord must inform the utility companies of the tenant’s name and address so that the tenant can set up accounts in their own name.

The lease agreement should also specify whether the utilities are included in the rent or are billed separately.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific utility and billing requirements and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord in Wisconsin.

Are there any laws in Wisconsin that protect tenants from wrongful eviction or lockouts?

Under Wisconsin state law, landlords are not allowed to evict tenants without following the proper legal process, which typically includes providing the tenant with a written notice to vacate, filing a complaint with the court, and obtaining a judgment for possession of the rental property.

Additionally, landlords are prohibited from locking out tenants, shutting off utilities, or removing the tenant’s personal property without going through the legal eviction process.

Furthermore, it’s illegal for landlords to evict tenants in a retaliatory manner, or to evict a tenant for complaining about habitability issues or for requesting repairs.

If a tenant believes that they have been wrongfully evicted or locked out, they may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division, or seek legal representation.

It’s always best to document any issues or complaints, including date, time, and any correspondence with the landlord, and to seek legal advice or representation if necessary.

Eviction Laws in Wisconsin

According to Wisconsin landlord tenant law, the process for eviction is governed by state statute Chapter 704. The laws for eviction in Wisconsin require that a landlord must follow a specific process in order to legally evict a tenant. The usual steps involved in the process include:

The landlord must give the tenant a written notice to vacate the rental property. The notice period required depends on the reason for eviction: non-compliance with lease agreement requires a 7-day notice, non-payment of rent requires a 5-day notice, and for month-to-month tenants, the notice period is 28 days.

If the tenant does not vacate the rental property within the required notice period, the landlord can file a complaint with the court to begin the eviction process.

The court will then schedule a hearing where the landlord and tenant can present their case. The tenant has the opportunity to challenge the eviction.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a judgment for possession of the rental property.

If the tenant still fails to vacate the rental property, the landlord can request the court to issue a writ of restitution, which authorizes the sheriff to physically remove the tenant from the rental property.

It’s worth noting that in Wisconsin, it’s illegal to evict a tenant in a retaliatory manner, or to evict a tenant for complaining about habitability issues or for requesting repairs. Furthermore, landlords are not allowed to lock out tenants, shut off utilities, or remove the tenant’s personal property without going through the legal eviction process.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific eviction requirements and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord.

Lease Termination in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the laws for ending a lease depend on the type of tenancy and the reason for ending it.

For a fixed-term lease, such as a one-year lease, the lease will typically end on the date specified in the lease agreement. In this case, the landlord and tenant do not need to give notice to end the lease.

For a month-to-month tenancy, either the landlord or the tenant can end the tenancy by giving the other party notice. The notice period required for the tenant to vacate the rental property is 28 days.

For a week-to-week tenancy, either the landlord or the tenant can end the tenancy by giving the other party notice. The notice period required is 14 days.

If the tenant breaches the lease agreement, the landlord can give the tenant notice to vacate the property, the notice period required is 7 days, and if the tenant does not vacate the property, the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.

If the landlord breaches the lease agreement, the tenant may have the right to terminate the lease agreement.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific lease termination requirements and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant or landlord.

Landlord’s Responsibilities In Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, landlords have a number of responsibilities that they must fulfill in order to comply with state laws. These responsibilities include:

  1. Providing a safe and habitable rental property: Landlords are responsible for maintaining the rental property in a safe and habitable condition, known as the “implied warranty of habitability”. This means that the landlord must make all necessary repairs to keep the rental property in a safe and livable condition, including extermination services for the pests that can cause health hazards.
  2. Complying with fair housing laws: Landlords cannot discriminate against any person in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on certain protected classes, such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, family status, and lawful source of income.
  3. Protecting tenant’s privacy: Landlords must respect the tenant’s privacy and give them reasonable notice before entering the rental property, except in the case of an emergency.
  4. Returning security deposit: Landlords must return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days after the tenant vacates the rental property, unless the landlord intends to make a claim against the deposit.
  5. Complying with state laws and regulations: Landlords must comply with all applicable state laws, such as the state’s housing codes, health and safety regulations, and fair housing laws.
  6. Dealing with repairs and maintenance: Landlords must respond to tenant’s request for repairs and maintenance in a timely manner, and must make necessary repairs as soon as possible.
  7. Terminating a lease agreement: Landlords must follow specific procedures in order to terminate a lease agreement for non-payment of rent or for other reasons, and cannot terminate a lease agreement in a discriminatory manner.

Landlord’s Rights In Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, landlords have a number of rights that they are entitled to in order to manage their rental property. These rights include:

  1. Collecting rent: Landlords have the right to collect rent from tenants in accordance with the lease agreement.
  2. Entering the rental property: Landlords have the right to enter the rental property with reasonable notice, except in case of an emergency.
  3. Terminating a lease agreement: Landlords have the right to terminate a lease agreement for non-payment of rent, or for other reasons such as violation of lease terms, after following the proper legal process.
  4. Evicting a tenant: Landlords have the right to evict a tenant who has violated the lease agreement, or who has failed to pay rent, after following the proper legal process.
  5. Setting rules and regulations: Landlords have the right to set rules and regulations for the rental property, as long as they do not discriminate against any protected classes.
  6. Making changes to the lease agreement: Landlords have the right to make changes to the lease agreement with proper notice and tenant’s agreement.
  7. Retaining security deposit: Landlords have the right to retain a portion of the security deposit if the tenant causes damages to the rental property.

It’s important to note that landlords rights are not absolute and must be exercised within the bounds of state and federal laws, such as the Fair Housing Act and state’s housing codes, health and safety regulations, and fair housing laws.

Tenant’s Responsibilities In Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, tenants have a number of responsibilities that they must fulfill in order to comply with state laws and the lease agreement. These responsibilities include:

  1. Paying rent: Tenants are responsible for paying rent on time and in accordance with the lease agreement.
  2. Maintaining the rental property: Tenants are responsible for keeping the rental property clean and safe, and for notifying the landlord of any needed repairs or maintenance.
  3. Complying with lease terms: Tenants are responsible for complying with the terms of the lease agreement, such as not causing damage to the rental property, not disturbing other tenants, and not using the property for illegal activities.
  4. Paying for utilities: Tenants are responsible for paying for utilities, such as gas, electricity, and water, unless the lease agreement states otherwise.
  5. Returning the rental property in good condition: Tenants are responsible for returning the rental property in the same condition as when they first moved in, reasonable wear and tear excepted.
  6. Notifying landlord of intent to vacate: Tenants are responsible for giving proper notice to the landlord of their intent to vacate the rental property, in accordance with the lease agreement or state laws.
  7. Complying with state laws and regulations: Tenants are responsible for complying with all applicable state laws, such as the state’s housing codes, health and safety regulations, and fair housing laws.

It’s always best to check the lease agreement for any specific responsibilities, and if in doubt, consult a lawyer for clarification on the state laws and your rights as a tenant in Wisconsin.

Tenant’s Rights In Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, tenants have a number of rights that they are entitled to in order to protect their interests and ensure a safe and habitable living environment. These rights include:

  1. Habitable living conditions: Tenants have the right to live in a safe and habitable rental property, free from pests, and with essential services such as heat, hot water, and electricity.
  2. Privacy: Tenants have the right to privacy in their rental property, and landlords must give them reasonable notice before entering the rental property, except in case of an emergency.
  3. Repairs and maintenance: Tenants have the right to request repairs and maintenance and landlords must respond to these requests in a timely manner.
  4. Discrimination protection: Tenants have the right to be free from discrimination based on certain protected classes, such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, family status, and lawful source of income.
  5. Termination of lease: Tenants have the right to terminate a lease agreement under certain circumstances, such as the landlord’s failure to provide a safe and habitable rental property, or the landlord’s discriminatory conduct.
  6. Retaining security deposit: Tenants have the right to receive their security deposit back within 21 days after vacating the rental property, unless the landlord intends to make a claim against the deposit.
  7. Retaliatory eviction protection: Tenants have the right to be free from retaliatory eviction, lockouts, or shut off of utilities, for complaining about habitability issues or for requesting repairs.
  8. Court protection: Tenants have the right to defend themselves in court during an eviction proceeding, and have the right to appeal a court decision.

It’s important to note that tenants rights are not absolute and must be exercised within the bounds of state and federal laws and the lease agreement.

Disclosure: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Feel free to review our other Wisconsin rental resources, and to pose questions about Wisconsin law in our rental experts’ forum.

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John Daron
John Daron
3 years ago

Can a landlord enforce a non smoking policy on the rental property grounds outside of the apartment?

laura
laura
2 years ago

if I have presented a tenant (who violated the lease agreement) a “fix or quit” notice and they decide to move out within the 5 days rather than fix violations, do i have to refund the rest of the rent they paid for the month? I don’t believe so because they violated the lease.

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