Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Rights

Renting a home can be stressful, whether you are the lessor or the lessee. Take the stress out of rentals with our below guide on Wisconsin landlord tenant rights.

Landlord Responsibilities

The landlord has certain responsibilities to the tenant. These include:

  • Providing a habitable living space
  • Making requested repairs within a “reasonable” time
  • Providing water, plumbing and electricity
  • Providing heating and air conditioning
  • 12-hour notice of entry

The landlord is prohibited from evicting or fining tenants due to issues arising from the habitability of the dwelling.

Tenant Responsibilities

The tenant also has responsibilities to the landlord. These include:

  • Keeping the unit within cleanliness standards
  • Repairing or paying for repairs for any damages caused by tenant
  • Reasonable use of facilities, utilities and appliances
  • Compliance with building and housing codes that have a material impact on health and safety
  • Not disturbing other tenants or neighbors

Security Deposit

Wisconsin law does not have a limit on the allowed amount a landlord may request for a security deposit.

The security deposit must be returned within 21 days after the tenant’s rental agreement terminates or when the new tenant’s lease begins, if the landlord re-rents the premises. A landlord is responsible for paying the full security deposit plus extra fees and damages if they wrongfully withhold a tenant’s security deposit. However, the security deposit can be withheld for the following reasons:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear
  • Permanent harm or neglect of the premises
  • Unpaid utility services

Landlords must provide the tenant a detailed written statement with the reasons for withholding a tenant’s security deposit. The statement must include an itemized description of each claim and the amount withheld for the specific claim.

Rent and Fees

Wisconsin law prohibits rent control policies, allowing landlords to increase the rent for any amount without providing the tenant any justification. However, the landlord must provide at least 28 days’ notice to the tenant.

Landlords can charge late fees for any amount as long as it is listed in the lease agreement. There is no required grace period for a landlord to charge late fees. Returned check fees are limited to $20.

Tenants can withhold rent if a landlord fails to provide the following essential services:

  • Heat
  • Water
  • Repair of damages
  • Habitable premises

Evictions

Evictions can occur in Wisconsin under the following circumstances:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Lease violation
    • Yearly or shorter leases – 5-day Notice to Comply or 14-day Notice to Quit
    • Leases Greater than 1 year – 30-day Notice to Comply
  • No lease or end of lease
    • Week-to-Week – 7-Day Notice to Quit
    • Month-to-Month – 28-day Notice to Quit
  • Illegal Acts
  • Imminent Harm

A landlord cannot evict a tenant in retaliation or based on discriminatory reasons.

Tenants can end a lease early for the following listed reasons:

  • Early termination clause
  • Active military duty
  • Domestic violence
  • Landlord harassment
  • Uninhabitable unit

If a Wisconsin tenant breaks the lease early, they may be required to pay the outstanding amount due on the lease agreement. However, landlords are required to make an effort to re-rent the unit.

Lease Termination Notice

If the lease is Week-to-Week, the tenant is required to provide a 5-day notice. If Month-to-Month, the tenant must provide a 28-Day notice. If the lease is Year-to-Year the tenant must provide a 14-Day Notice.

Relevant State Agencies

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

City-Specific Links

Milwaukee:

Milwaukee Housing Authority

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Electric

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Madison:

Madison Housing Authority

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Green Bay:

Green Bay Housing Authority

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Official Rules and Regulations

Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Statutes

Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Guide