Wisconsin Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability

Wisconsin Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability

Last Updated: August 19, 2023

Wisconsin legally requires landlords to meet certain “habitability” requirements for all rental properties. This means that they’re responsible for providing a property that meets specific health and safety standards and for fixing issues that violate them.

Wisconsin Implied Warranty of Habitability

In Wisconsin, the implied warranty of habitability means that a landlord must provide and maintain a safe and habitable rental property. “Implied” means the requirement applies whether or not the lease agreement specifically says so and even if the lease tries to waive the obligation.

Examples of clear habitability violations include:

  • Exposed electrical wiring.
  • A pipe leaking human waste.
  • A broken front doorknob that won’t lock.

However, the implied warranty of habitability does not guarantee that anything at the property will be pretty, clean, new or issue-free, so it doesn’t cover things like peeling carpet or dents in a wall. It only guarantees basic health and safety.

Landlord Responsibilities in Wisconsin

Note: Check local city/county laws and ordinances for additional requirements. Where there’s a local housing code, it usually takes priority over the requirements in state law. Additionally, for rural rentals that aren’t subject to a local housing code, Wisconsin makes tenants responsible for most lower cost repairs.

Item Has To Provide? Has To Fix / Replace?
Air Conditioning / Heating Only Heating Only Heating
Hot Water Yes Yes
Kitchen Appliances No Only If Provided
Washer & Dryer No Only If Provided
Smoke/CO Detectors Yes Yes
Window Coverings No No
Light Fixtures No No
Landscaping No Sometimes
Garbage Removal Not Addressed Not Addressed
Garbage Pickup Not Addressed Not Addressed
Mold N/A Yes
Pest Control No N/A
Pest Infestations N/A Sometimes
Water Leaks N/A Usually
Clogs N/A Usually

Landlord Responsibilities for Heating & Air Conditioning in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords must provide heating during winter for rental properties. They don’t have to provide air conditioning, but they do have to fix it if it’s provided.

Are Landlords Required to Provide Air Filter Replacements in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin landlords don’t have to replace things like air filters unless provided heating or cooling equipment won’t work otherwise.

Landlord Responsibilities for Plumbing in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords must provide and maintain plumbing in reasonable working condition, including sewage disposal.

Are Landlords Required To Provide Hot Water in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin landlords must provide and maintain running hot and cold water for rental properties.

Are Landlords Responsible for Fixing Clogged Drains & Toilets in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin landlords must fix clogs the tenant didn’t cause, which keep the plumbing from being in reasonable working condition.

Are Landlords in Wisconsin Responsible for Fixing Leaks?

Wisconsin landlords must fix leaks the tenant didn’t cause, which keep the plumbing from being in reasonable working condition.

Landlord Responsibilities for Kitchen Appliances in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords don’t have to provide kitchen appliances such as a dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, or refrigerator. However, for any appliances the landlord provides, the landlord must repair damage that isn’t the tenant’s fault. An appliance that can’t be safely used violates the warranty of habitability.

Landlord Responsibilities for Electrical Issues in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords must furnish electric service and keep wiring, outlets, and fixtures in safe operating condition except for damage caused by the tenant. Unsafe electrical conditions violate the warranty of habitability.

Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Light Bulbs in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin landlords are responsible for replacing light bulbs for fixtures which create a hazard to health or safety if broken (such as lights in common stairwells). They are not otherwise responsible for providing light bulbs or particular light fixtures.

Landlord Responsibilities for Garbage Removal in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords have unclear responsibilities regarding garbage removal. By default, the tenant must usually maintain his private premises while the landlord maintains common areas. In most cases, this means the tenant should dispose of garbage and the landlord should make removal service available.

Landlord Responsibilities for Landscaping in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords have no specific obligation to provide landscaping or maintain it with actions like cutting grass. They only have to deal with issues like fallen trees if they take a common area out of reasonable repair, or create a hazard to health and safety.

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Mold in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords are responsible for most mold issues. While there’s no state requirement for testing, landlords must investigate and fix mold problems since they threaten health and safety. If the renter created the mold issue, a landlord can make the renter fix it, or pay for repairs.

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Pests in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords are responsible for fixing pest issues the renter didn’t cause, including rats, roaches, mice, bed bugs, and ants. If the renter caused the issue, the landlord can make the renter fix it or pay the cost of repair.

Landlord Responsibilities for Windows & Window Coverings in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords have no specific responsibility to provide particular windows or window coverings. However, broken windows or window locks are a safety hazard that are usually the landlord’s responsibility if the tenant didn’t cause the issue.

Landlord Responsibilities for Paint in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords have special responsibilities regarding paint. Chipped or peeling paint might present a habitability issue. In particular, a landlord has a legal obligation to test for lead paint when any paint issues get reported in a building constructed before 1978.

Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Safety Devices in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords must provide and replace safety devices as necessary, including smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Tenants are responsible for checking safety devices to ensure they work. If a safety device breaks, the landlord must provide a new one within five days of written notice from the tenant.

Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Batteries of Safety Devices in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin landlords are not specifically responsible for replacing the batteries of safety devices. However, if a safety device stops working, the tenant can give the landlord a written request and the landlord must replace the device within five days.

Landlord Responsibilities for Washers and Dryers in Wisconsin

Wisconsin landlords are not required to furnish their rental properties with a working washer and dryer. However, if they are provided, the landlord is responsible for fixing them if they stop working properly.

Renter’s Rights for Repairs in Wisconsin

Renters in Wisconsin have the right to repairs for issues they didn’t cause which affect health and safety. To exercise their right, the renter must start by notifying the landlord of the issue in writing. Repairs must be “promptly” performed.

If the landlord fails to repair the issue promptly, the renter can move out or reduce rent payments. However, the renter is not allowed to repair and deduct the cost from rent.

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