How to Report a Landlord in Wisconsin for Unsafe Living Conditions
August 19, 2023
If a rental property in Wisconsin fails to meet legally required health and safety standards, tenants have the right to report their landlord to local public officials who may choose to follow up, inspect the property and cite the landlord for such violations.
What Are Considered Unsafe Living Conditions in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, unsafe living conditions exist when a rental property doesn’t have safe and working:
Hot and cold water.
Wiring, outlets, fixtures, and other components of the property.
Smoke alarms and CO detectors (as required).
Any other issue that substantially impacts health and safety on a property also qualifies as an unsafe living condition.
After receiving a complaint, an inspecting officer might contact the tenant for more information. Then the officer will usually inspect the property and cite the landlord for any code violations.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Milwaukee?
A tenant in Milwaukee can report a health or safety violation by calling the Department of Neighborhood Services at (414) 286-2268 or using the providedonline form. Select “DNS Requests -> Building in Disrepair – Private Property,” then select a specific issue and enter location and contact details before submitting.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Madison?
A tenant in Madison can report a health or safety violation by calling DPCED at (608) 266-4551 or using the providedonline form. Select “Interior Housing” or “Exterior Housing” under “Report a Problem” and then enter details for location, contact, and issue before submitting.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Green Bay?
A tenant in Green Bay can report a health or safety violation by calling (920) 448-3000 or using theonline formprovided by Housing & Building Inspection. Select “Housing, Zoning, or Building Complaint,” click on the issue type, then enter location details, problem description, and contact information before submitting.
What Could Happen to a Landlord After a Complaint Is Made in Wisconsin?
After a tenant files a complaint about unsafe living conditions in Wisconsin, an officer may inspect the property. The landlord must fix noted code violations within a specified time, usually 30-90 days. Otherwise, the landlord could be fined and the local government might file to condemn the property.
Required disclosures regarding habitability provide archetypal examples: “[T]he landlord shall disclose to the prospective tenant… The following conditions affecting habitability, the existence of which the landlord knows or could know on basis of reasonable inspection, whether or not notice has been received from code enforcement authorities: 1. The dwelling unit lacks hot or cold running water. 2. Heating facilities … are not [safely] capable of maintaining a temperature… of at least 67° F (19° C) during all seasons … 3. The dwelling unit is not served by electricity, or the electrical wiring, outlets, fixtures or other components of the electrical system are not in safe operating condition. 4. Any structural or other conditions in the dwelling unit or premises which constitute a substantial hazard … 5. The dwelling unit is not served by plumbing facilities in good operating condition. 6. The dwelling unit is not served by sewage disposal facilities in good operating condition.”
“The owner of a dwelling shall install a functional smoke detector in the basement of the dwelling and on each floor level except the attic or storage area of each dwelling unit. The occupant of such a dwelling unit shall maintain any smoke detector in that unit, except that if any occupant who is not the owner, or any state, county, city, village or town officer, agent or employee charged under statute or municipal ordinance with powers or duties involving inspection of real or personal property, gives written notice to the owner that the smoke detector is not functional the owner shall provide, within 5 days after receipt of that notice, any maintenance necessary to make that smoke detector functional.”
“(a) The owner of a dwelling shall install a functional carbon monoxide detector in the basement of the dwelling and on each floor level except the attic, garage, or storage area of each dwelling unit. … Except as provided under par. (b), the occupant of the dwelling unit shall maintain any carbon monoxide detector in that unit. This paragraph does not apply to the owner of a dwelling that has no attached garage, no fireplace, and no fuel-burning appliance.
“(b) If any occupant … or any person authorized … [for] inspection of real or personal property, gives written notice to the owner that the carbon monoxide detector is not functional, the owner shall provide, within 5 days after receipt of that notice, any maintenance necessary to make that carbon monoxide detector functional.”
“If the premises become untenantable because of damage by fire, water, or other casualty or because of any condition hazardous to health, or if there is a substantial violation of sub. (2) [landlord’s duties] materially affecting the health or safety of the tenant, the tenant may remove from the premises [or pursue other remedies described later] unless the landlord proceeds promptly to repair or rebuild or eliminate the health hazard or the substantial violation of sub. (2) [landlord’s duties] materially affecting the health or safety of the tenant.”
“Notice by the tenant or a person in the tenant’s behalf must be given under this chapter by one of the following methods: (a) By giving a copy of the notice personally to the landlord or … agent, or by leaving a copy at the landlord’s usual place of abode in the presence of some competent member of the landlord’s family at least 14 years of age, who is informed of the contents of the notice; (b) By giving a copy of the notice personally to a competent person apparently in charge of the landlord’s regular place of business or the place where the rent is payable; (c) By mailing a copy by registered or certified mail to the landlord… (d) By serving the landlord as prescribed in s. 801.11 for the service of a summons.”