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

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

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 Licenses

Mandatory Disclosures in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords must provide 3 mandatory disclosures:

  1. Lead-based paint. For homes built before 1978, landlords must provide info about concentrations of lead paint.
  2. Authorized agents. Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
  3. Code violations. Wisconsin landlords must disclose any past housing code violations.

Helpful Links

These resources are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

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