Steps of the eviction process in Wisconsin:
- Notice is posted to correct the issue/vacate.
- If uncured and tenant remains, the complaint is filed and served.
- Hearing is held and judgment issued.
- If granted, writ of restitution is posted.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
Evicting a tenant in Wisconsin can take around two to four months, depending on the eviction type. If another hearing must be scheduled after the initial hearing, the process will take longer.
Step 1: Notice is Posted
Landlords in Wisconsin can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, including nonpayment of rent, the landlord may not be required to give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy if proper notice is given.
- Imminent Harm to Others – If the tenant poses an immediate threat to others on the rental premises, and certain other conditions apply, they must be given written notice prior to eviction.
- Illegal Activity – If a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, notice must be served before the tenant can be evicted.
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property.
- Evicting a Squatter If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, the normal eviction process may not be applicable (read more).
- Serving Notice. Notice may be served by the landlord or a person on the landlord’s behalf. The notice may be served by giving a copy of the notice in person or by leaving a copy with a tenant’s family member who is at least 14 years old. Notice may also be sent through regular mail. If these methods of delivery aren’t applicable after reasonable effort, a copy may be placed in a conspicuous place on the rental unit and a copy should also be mailed to the tenant.
Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Wisconsin if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease or rental agreement.
Wisconsin landlords are not required to allow tenants to correct a lease violation in these instances, but it is customary to do so. The amount of notice they must provide depends on the type and length of tenancy.
Typical lease violations under this category could include things like nonpayment of rent, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.
Illegal activity and imminent harm to others are not considered lease/rental agreement violations.
For those who have written leases for a year or less and fail to pay their rent, and for nuisances created by week-to-week or month-to-month tenants, the landlord can give a 5-Day Notice to Pay/Comply, giving tenants five days to pay rent or correct the nuisance or move out of the rental unit.
If the same violation occurs within one year, the landlord may give the tenant a 14-Days’ Notice to Quit.
For tenants with written lease agreements longer than one year, landlords must provide tenants with a 30-Day Notice to Comply, giving tenants 30 days to correct the issue.
Lastly, landlords aren’t required to give month-to-month tenants the opportunity to correct or “cure” a lease violation (including nonpayment of rent) and could give them a 14-Day Notice to Quit instead of the 5-Day Notice to Comply.
If the tenant doesn’t correct the issue within the deadline and remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Wisconsin, if tenants “hold over,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.
Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.
The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
- Week-to-Week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 28-Day Notice to Quit.
- Agricultural Tenancies – If rent is paid from year-to-year, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 90-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Imminent Harm
If a tenant poses an imminent threat to another tenant (or another tenant’s child), AND:
- There’s a protection order against the tenant;
- A condition of release that prohibits contact with another tenant; or
- A criminal complaint filed against the tenant alleging sexual assault, stalking, or domestic abuse.
Then the landlord must give the tenant a five-day written eviction notice. The eviction notice must specify why the tenant is being evicted, the tenant’s right to dispute the eviction in court, and the date the tenant must move out.
The tenant does not have the option to avoid this type of eviction and must move out.
Eviction Process for Illegal Activity
Tenants of a rental unit who are involved in illegal activity must be given a 5-Day Notice to Quit before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action.
Tenants may also be evicted if their guests or other occupants in the rental unit are involved in illegal activity, even if the tenant wasn’t specifically involved in the activity.
Illegal activity includes:
- Criminal activity.
- Illegal drug activity.
- Violent acts that affect the health or safety of the residents in the rental unit or the surrounding neighborhoods.
In these instances, tenants don’t have the option of correcting the issue to avoid eviction.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served
As the next step in the eviction process, Wisconsin landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. In the state of Wisconsin, this costs $94.50-$114.50 in filing fees, depending on whether the case is being filed electronically or in person.
The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by any resident of the state who isn’t part of the case. Any person who is a nonresident of Wisconsin may deliver the summons and complaint if they are a resident of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan or Minnesota.
Service shall be at least five days prior to the hearing by giving a copy to the tenant in person. If delivering the summons and complaint in person isn’t an option after reasonable effort, the server may use one of the following methods:
- Leaving a copy with a family member of the tenant who is at least 14 years old at the rental unit.
- If leaving a copy with a family member is not an option, the service may be made by publishing the summons. A copy of the summons and complaint must be mailed immediately or prior to the publication.
- Mailing a copy via certified mail (in Small Claims Court).
Service methods may depend on the jurisdiction.
Five days. The summons and complaint must be served at least five days before the hearing.
Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment
An initial hearing will be set for no more than 25 days after the landlord’s complaint was filed with the court.
If the tenant fails to appear for the initial hearing, they will be evicted.
If the eviction case cannot be resolved at the initial hearing, a trial will be held before a judicial officer, who will make a final ruling about whether or not the tenant will be evicted from the rental unit. This could add up to 30 days to the process.
If a judicial officer rules in favor of the landlord at the initial hearing or a trial, a writ of restitution will be issued and the eviction process will proceed.
Approximately 25 days. The initial hearing will be held within 25 days of the date the landlord’s complaint was filed with the court; if a trial is held before a judicial officer, it could add another 30 days to the process.
Step 4: Writ of Restitution Is Issued
The writ of restitution is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit before the sheriff returns to forcibly remove them. The sheriff’s fee for serving a writ is $8 and $10 per hour for each deputy sheriff assigned to inventory the property upon seizure of the property, plus any necessary expenses incurred.
The writ will be issued immediately after a judgment has been entered in the landlord’s favor.
Immediately. The writ of restitution will be issued immediately after entry of a judgment in the landlord’s favor.
Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned
The sheriff must remove the tenant from the rental unit within 10 days of receiving the writ of restitution if the tenant hasn’t moved out of the rental unit before the sheriff returns.
A stay of execution may be granted for no more than 30 days if the judicial officer determines that requiring the tenant to move out sooner could create a “hardship” for the tenant.
About 10 days. The tenant has up to 10 days to move out of the rental unit once the writ of restitution has been delivered to the sheriff’s office. If a stay of execution is granted, it could add another 30 days to the process.
Wisconsin Eviction Process Timeline
Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Wisconsin. These estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.
- Initial Notice Period – Between 5 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
- Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – Five days before the initial hearing.
- Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – Within 25 days of the date the complaint was filed for the initial hearing; up to another 30 days if a trial is held after the initial hearing.
- Issuance of Writ of Possession – Immediately upon entry of judgment for the landlord.
- Return of Possession – About 10 days once the writ has been received by the sheriff’s office.
Tenant’s Abandoned Personal Property. If a tenant leaves behind personal property after an eviction, the landlord may dispose of the property at the landlord’s discretion if it is stated in the written lease agreement. The landlord may sell the property by private or public sale and shall return the funds (except for any storage, sale or any additional costs and fees) to the Department of Administration.
The landlord may not dispose any medical items, including prescription medication or prescription medical equipment. The landlord must store the medical items for seven days, if the tenant doesn’t claim the property, the landlord may dispose of the medical items.
If there was no clause regarding the abandoned personal property in the written lease, the landlord shall store the property and notify the tenant within 10 days of storing the property. If the tenant doesn’t claim the property within 30 days the landlord may dispose of the property.
Flowchart of Wisconsin Eviction Process
- 1 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 2 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 3 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 4 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 5 WI Stat §704.19 (2019)
- 6 WI Stat §704.16 (2019)
- 7 WI Stat §704.16 (2019)
- 8 WI Stat §704.16 (2019)
- 9 WI Stat §704.16 (2019)
- 10 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 11 WI Stat §704.17 (2019)
- 12 WI Stat §801.10 (2019)
- 13 WI Stat §801.11 (2019)
- 14 WI Stat §799.12 (2019)
- 15 WI Stat §799.12 (2019)
- 16 WI Stat §799.05 (2019)
- 17 WI Stat §799.206 (2019)
- 18 WI Stat §799.44 (2019)
- 19 WI Stat §799.45 (2019)
- 20 WI Stat §799.44 (2019)