Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Laws
February 28, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Security deposit receipt
Water, heat, electricity inclusions
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: $25 fees permitted
Rent Control: Banned
Late Fee Limit: N/A
Grace Period Minimum: N/A
Amount Limit: N/A
Return Within: 21 days
Notice: 12 hours’
Permitted Times of Entry: reasonable
|Fair Housing Protections |
Domestic violence victim
Source of income
Rent Demand Notice: 5-day pay-or-quit notice (first violation); 14-day quit notice (second violation)
Notice for Lease Violation: 5-day cure-or-quit notice (first violation); 14-day quit notice (second violation)
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 5-day notice to quit
Wisconsin Landlord-Tenant Law
Understand the essential landlord-tenant laws in Wisconsin before enforcing your own rental policies. Find more information in the Wisconsin state law code or the Wisconsin Landlord/Tenant Guide.
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Landlords in Wisconsin are required to disclose, in writing, the name and address of the person responsible for managing and maintaining the premises, as well as the owner or person authorized to receive notices.
Security Deposit Receipt
Landlords must provide a written receipt for security deposits and any other payments accepted, unless the tenant pays by check.
Before collecting a security deposit, the landlord must provide a written notice informing the tenant that they have seven days to inspect the premises for existing damages. The landlord must also notify tenants that they have the right to receive an itemized checklist of damages at move out, for which the landlord may withhold funds from the security deposit.
Landlords must disclose any building or housing code violations that would threaten a prospective tenant’s health or safety that they are aware of.
Water, Heat, and Electricity Inclusions
Landlords must disclose if a unit lacks hot or cold running water; if the heating facilities are not in safe working condition; if the unit does not have electricity; if the electricity, plumbing, or sewage disposal facilities are not in safe working condition; and any other structural conditions that present a health or safety hazard.
Landlords must disclose whether utility charges are included in the rent. If the utility charges are not included in the rent and the units and common areas of the property are not separately metered, the landlord must disclose how utility charges will be allocated among the units.
Domestic Abuse Addendum
All residential rental agreements should include a notice regarding the legal protections for victims of domestic violence. The notice should be included as written in the Wisconsin state law code.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: There is no statute in Wisconsin specifying when rent should be due.
- Application Fees: Wisconsin landlords may charge an application fee of up to $25 to cover the actual cost of obtaining a consumer credit report and background check (WI Stat. § 704.085).
- Rent Increases: Rent control is banned in Wisconsin (WI Stat. § 66.1015).
- Late Fees: There are no statutory limits on late fees in Wisconsin.
- Grace Period: There is no mandatory grace period in Wisconsin.
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: Wisconsin has no statutory limits on fees charged for a bounced rent check.
- Withholding Rent: If the landlord refuses to eliminate a condition hazardous to the health or safety of the tenant, the tenant may either move out or take a rent abatement to match the extent to which the tenant is deprived of full normal use of the unit. Tenants may not withhold rent in full (WI Stat. § 704.07(4)).
- Deposit Limit: There is no limit on security deposit amounts in Wisconsin.
- Interest: Landlords in Wisconsin are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 21 days (WI Stat. § 704.28(4)).
- Deposit Location: Wisconsin landlords are not required to keep security deposits in a specific bank account or separate from other funds.
- Withholding: Wisconsin rental rights allow landlords to withhold funds from the security deposit to cover the costs of unpaid rent, tenant damage or neglect, other fees owed by the landlord, or another non-standard provision if it is described in the lease. The landlord may not withhold funds for normal wear and tear (WI Stat. § 704.28(1)).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). According to Wisconsin fair housing laws, other protections include sexual orientation, marital status, status as a victim of domestic abuse (and sexual assault or stalking), lawful source of income, age, and ancestry (WI Stat. § 106.50).
- Wisconsin landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 12 hours (WI Adm. Code § 134.09(2)).
- Permitted Times: Wisconsin landlords may only enter at reasonable times. Acceptable reasons for entry include inspections, repairs, or showings (WI Stat. § 704.05, WI Adm. Code § 134.09(2)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of emergency, the landlord may enter without advanced notice (WI Stat. § 704.05(2)).
- Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit. If the tenant fails to pay rent again within one year of the first time, the landlord may issue a 14-day notice to quit (WI Stat. § 704.17(2)(a)). What is a quit notice? A quit notice or “notice to quit” does not give the tenant an opportunity to cure the lease violation before being evicted.
- Notice for Lease Violation: 5 days to cure or quit. According to Wisconsin eviction laws, after the second violation, the landlord may issue a 14-day notice to quit before pursuing eviction (WI Stat. § 704.17(2)(b)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 5 days to quit. This notice applies when the landlord receives notice from a law enforcement agency that the tenant is using the rental unit as a meeting place for a criminal gang or as a place to sell, make, or distribute a controlled substance (WI Stat. § 704.17(2)(c)).
Other Laws and Facts About Wisconsin
- The median rent rate in Wisconsin is $1,300.
- The median rent rate in Milwaukee is $1,100.
- Landlords and tenants in Wisconsin may agree to a Non-Standard Rental Provision that authorizes landlord entry under additional circumstances (besides inspections, repairs, or showings). However, the landlord still does not have an unconditional right of entry without the tenant’s permission (WI Adm. Code § 134.09(2)).