As a new landlord in the state of Wisconsin, it can be difficult to adjust to the range of knowledge and expertise you’re expected to develop. You may be wondering things like, “what is a quit notice?” or “Does my state have rent control?” Below are some of the most important rental laws to know when investing in real estate in Wisconsin.
Rent and Fees
Keeping up with which tenants have paid rent, need to be charged late fees, or owe any other charges can be overwhelming. In addition to that, you also have to know the whether the fees you charge are legal to make sure you’re within your rights as a landlord in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin rental rights are relatively landlord-friendly, providing landlords with a range of protections and freedoms. For example, Wisconsin law specifies that rent control is banned statewide, which means that no city or local government can set a cap on the price of rent. Landlords can also choose their late fee amount, grace period length, and what they would like to charge in the case of a bounced check or non-sufficient funds. There is also no statute specifying the day that rent should be due, so you may choose what date works best for you and write that in your rental agreement.
However, there are a few limitations regarding rent and fees for landlords. Application fees can be no more than $25 to cover the actual costs of screening. Additionally, if you refuse to remedy a condition that lessens the tenant’s normal use of their unit, a tenant may take a rent abatement. However, tenants cannot withhold rent in full.
Tenants have a right to know any information that may be pertinent to them and their stay in your rental property. Most states have required disclosures that landlords must inform their tenants of.
In Wisconsin, landlords must provide a written receipt for any payments and security deposits accepted (unless the payment is received by check). However, before you collect the deposit, you must tell your renter in writing that they have seven days to inspect the premises for any existing damage committed by previous tenants. They also must be aware that they have the right to receive an itemized list of damages upon their move out, and the landlord can withhold funds from the deposit for those damages.
Further, landlords must disclose any housing code violations that threaten the health or safety of the tenants, as well as if the unit lacks hot or cold running water, electricity, or faulty plumbing, sewage, or electric. The landlord also needs to disclose whether there are structural conditions in the building that present a threat.
Additionally, all rental agreements in Wisconsin should include a notice that spells out Wisconsin’s legal protections for domestic violence victims.
Security deposits are the property of your tenants until you have a proven reason as to why you should make a deduction. Each state has rules regarding security deposits and their safe keeping and return.
There is no limit on security deposit amounts in Wisconsin, and landlords do not have to pay interest on them. However, they must return the deposit within 21 days, and landlords can withhold funds from that deposit for unpaid rent, other fees, lease violations, or tenant damages and neglect.
Entry laws are very important, since maintaining your tenant’s right to privacy should be one of your top considerations as a landlord.
Landlords must give advanced notice of 12 hours before entry and can only enter at reasonable times for reasons like inspections, maintenance, or showings. However, if there’s an emergency, landlords can enter without any advanced notice.
It’s important to note that in Wisconsin, landlords and tenants can enter into a mutually agreed upon, non-standard rental provision that provides for other circumstances beyond inspections, repairs, or showings which can warrant landlord entry. However, the tenant must agree to these provisions, and the landlord still does not have unconditional access to the unit without prior tenant permission.
Wisconsin eviction laws protect both landlords and tenants. Evictions are serious legal actions and should only be initiated when legally and truly needed.
Under rent demand notice guidelines in Wisconsin, tenants who are behind on rent have five days to pay their unpaid rent or move out. If the tenant fails to pay rent a second time within one year of the first offense, the landlord may send a 14-day notice to leave without an opportunity to pay the unpaid amount.
In the case of a lease violation, the tenant has five days to fix the issue or move out. After the second violation, the tenant can be issued a 14-day notice to quit with no opportunity to cure the breach, after which evictions proceedings can begin.
Finally, the landlord can issue an unconditional notice to quit if they learn that the tenant is utilizing the rental unit as a place to manufacture, distribute, or sell drugs or conduct meetings of a criminal gang. In this case, the tenant has five days to vacate the property with no opportunity to cure the breach before the landlord can file for eviction.
It’s crucial that you’re very familiar with both federal and Wisconsin fair housing laws before you evict any tenant. When in doubt, hire a lawyer to advise you on the best way to approach the situation.
Hiring a professional to help you navigate your state laws is generally always a good idea. These laws can sometimes be tricky and confusing, but the best way to remain within the law is to conduct thorough research and stay up to date on all new legislation.