State Rules and Regulations for Wisconsin Rental Properties and Landlords
In Wisconsin, a lease exists whenever there is an oral or written agreement to exchange rent for inhabiting a property. Under Wisconsin law, (Ch 704.01) tenants have certain rights under this agreement, such as the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to take some forms of alternative action.
Landlords also have rights such as the right to collect rent and the right to be reimbursed for costs for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Wisconsin Official Rules and Regulations
- Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.01 – 704.50 – Chapter 704 – Landlord and Tenant Statutes
- Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.01 – 134.10 – Chapter ATCP 134 – Residential Rental Practices (or download the PDF)
- LAW GUIDE: Important Numbers to Remember with Rental Agreements (PDF)
- Consumer Facts – Landlord Tenant Guide (PDF)
- 2011 Assembly Bill 561
- There are various other Bills relating to Landlord-Tenant
- City of Madison:
Wisconsin Security Deposit Limit and Return
- Security Deposit Maximum: No Limit! (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06)
- Security Deposit Interest: No (source)
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No
- Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No separate pet deposit needed since there is no limit on what you can charge for a security deposit. Landlords can charge up to $20 to a tenant to perform a background/credit check (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.05(4))
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days after either the date on which the tenant’s rental agreement terminates or the date on which a new tenant’s tenancy begins if the landlord re-rents the premises before the tenant’s rental agreement terminates. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(2))
- Receipt of Deposit: Written Receipt is required if the deposit is paid for in cash, or if requested by the tenant. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.03(2a))
- Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(4))
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Wisconsin
- Rent control. Wisconsin law prohibits rent control policy on both a state and local level, so landlords can charge as much as they want for rent.
- Rental increases. Similarly, landlords are not limited by how much they can raise rent, but they must give at least 28 days of advanced notice.
- Rent-related fees. Late fees can be as high as the landlord desires though there is a $20 returned check fee limit.
Notices and Entry Under Wisconsin Law
- SUMMARY: A tenant has 5 extra days to pay after it is due, then you can give them a Notice to Terminate (pay or vacate) which varies slightly depended on the type of the lease.
- Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Lease: 28 days (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.19(3))
- Notice to Terminate for Non-Payment or Breach of Lease – Week-to-week: 5 days (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(1))
- Notice to Terminate for Non-Payment or Breach of Lease – Month-to-Month: 14 days (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(1)) (PDF Guide)
- Notice to Terminate for Non-Payment or Breach of Lease – Yearly Lease: 14 days (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(2)(b))
- Notice to Terminate for Non-Payment or Breach of Lease – Lease longer than a Year: 30 days (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(3))
- Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
- Required Notice before Entry: 12 hours, but can be shorter if tenant agrees (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.05(2)) (PDF guide)
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs: 12 hours, but can be shorter if tenant agrees (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.05(2)) (PDF guide)
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.05(2)) (PDF guide)
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.05(2)) (PDF guide)
- Notice to Tenants before Pesticide Use: 12 hours, except in Madison which is 24 hours (source)
- Lockouts Allowed: No (source)
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (source)
Housing Discrimination in Wisconsin
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, familial status, religion, sex, or disability. Wisconsin also has special protections based on ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, and source of income. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division handles housing discrimination cases. The following behaviors may be considered discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected class:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Falsely denying unit availability
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations
- Steering tenants into certain buildings or neighborhoods
- Advertising that indicates discriminatory preferences
- Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local (city or county) governing authority.
- City of Wausau: Rental Registration is Required
- City of La Crosse: Rental Inspections are Required
- Real Estate License: Property Management Companies must have a Real Estate Broker’s License; however the Property Owner does not. (source)
- City of Madison: Rental Property Emergency Contact Registration is Required
Mandatory Disclosures in Wisconsin
Wisconsin landlords must provide 3 mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-based paint. For homes built before 1978, landlords must provide info about concentrations of lead paint.
- Authorized agents. Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
- Code violations. Wisconsin landlords must disclose any past housing code violations.
- Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW)
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Lease Addendum to Residential Lease (Rider) (Courtesy of the WRA)
- Wisconsin Small Claims Court
- Wisconsin State Courts
- Wisconsin Attorney General
- Wisconsin Tenant Resource Center
- State Bar of Wisconsin
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Wisconsin
- Wisconsin REALTORS® Association
- Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance
- Wisconsin Consumer’s Guide to Home Owners Insurance (PDF)
- Wisconsin Tenant Sourcebook (PDF)