Explanation of Tenant Rights in Wisconsin

Tenants in the State of Wisconsin are guaranteed the right to have a safe rental property.

This includes appropriate locks on all exterior entryways, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and the right to know about any building code violations that have not yet been corrected if there is a threat to tenant health and/or safety.

Tenants also have the right to ask their landlord to change their locks, while in Madison tenants can change or rekey locks without permission as long as the landlord receives key(s) to the lock that has been altered.

Here are some of the other tenant rights that are available in Wisconsin.

1. Tenants Are Not Required To Pay For Routine Carpet Cleaning.

Even if a landlord requires this as part of a lease provision, it cannot be legally enforced.

Unless there is “unusual” damage to the carpet, withholding money from a security deposit to clean carpets is considered illegal.

2. A Lease Must Come To Its Conclusion Unless Specific Circumstances Exist.

Even if a tenant has passed away, the estate is still responsible for 60 days of rent.

Tenants that have illegal clauses in their lease, however, can immediately terminate their lease because it is considered void.

Tenants who are assigned to active duty in the military may also terminate their lease.

3. A 5 Day Notice In Writing Is Required To Begin An Eviction Process.

Tenants in Wisconsin are given 5 days to pay overdue rent or cure a violation of the leasing agreement. Weekends are not counted.

Landlords can file for an eviction after delivering this notice, even if it is paid in full, and even if the notice has expired, so tenants may ask for revocation of the notice in writing.

After the 5 Day Notice is served once and a tenant has been in the lease for less than a year, a 14 Day Notice that has no cure can be issued.

4. Landlords Must Give Notice To Enter.

A 12 hour minimum notice is required to enter a rental property, either in writing or verbally, but there is no requirement that a tenant actually receive the notice.

Landlords also can place agreements within the rental agreement that are different than this if they desire.

Only when a tenant is absent, agrees to it, or there is a health or safety emergency present may a landlord enter without notice.

5. Some Communities Offer Rent Abatement.

If a landlord refuses to repair a known issue, then tenants have the right to receive a partial rent credit that is based on the severity of the needed repair.

This does not mean tenants have the right to withhold rent, but they may be able to abate a certain amount of it.

This explanation of tenant rights in Wisconsin is a brief overview of what is allowed and what is not.

For specific questions, be sure to reference Wisconsin's landlord/tenant law for information.

Posted on Aug 18, 2015


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