The Wisconsin rental agreements are contracts created when a tenant wishes to use real property in exchange for regular payments (“rent”). These documents help establish the terms and conditions associated with the use of the property. All rental agreements are governed by Wisconsin’s landlord-tenant laws and cannot supersede state law.
Wisconsin Rental Agreement Types
Common Rental Agreements in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Realtors Association Residential Lease – this template, for use by members who members of the Wisconsin Realtors Association only, is heavily used by residential rental properties throughout Wisconsin. It provides an extensive list of rules and procedures, including specifics that go as far as including provisions regarding domestic abuse protections, electronic communications, and guest rules.
Wisconsin Required Lease Disclosures
- Landlord’s Name & Address (required for all) – Wisconsin requires landlords to provide contact information in their lease agreements to establish communication for serving legal notices.
- Utility Disclosure (required for some) – If utilities are not included in the rent, Wisconsin landlords must disclose this fact in the lease so that tenants know they are responsible for maintaining habitable conditions during tenancy.
- Shared Utility Arrangements (required for some) – Wisconsin properties that share a master meter or submeter their utilities must include a disclosure that outlines how utility charges are split between each party to ensure each party can be held legally responsible for their calculated charges.
- Check-In Sheet (required for all) – Landlords in Wisconsin are required to provide tenants a check-in sheet that outlines the condition of the property, which must then be returned within 7 days of move-in and should be held until the end of the lease to be used for deducting damages from the security deposit.
- Pre-Existing Damages Disclosure (required for some) – The right to inspect a dwelling before assuming possession through a lease must be disclosed in Wisconsin lease agreements, which must be addressed within 7 days, in addition to the ability to request a receipt of the previous tenant’s damages to ensure proper conditions are reported at the beginning of tenancy.
- Notice of Domestic Abuse Protections (required for all) – A specific excerpt from the statue on domestic abuse protection must be included in all Wisconsin lease agreements that outlines the rights victims have regarding their lease.
- Nonstandard Rental Provision Disclosure (required for some) – If the landlord and tenant agree to any nonstandard Wisconsin leasing procedures, such as terms of notice upon entry, they must be outlined in a separate attachment titled “NONSTANDARD PROVISIONS” and signed by each party to absolve either party of liability from standard rental provisions.
- Code Violation Disclosure (required for some) – Any known code violations that pose a health risk and exist at the beginning of the lease must be disclosed to potential tenants in Wisconsin.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some) – Wisconsin landlords must provide lead-based paint resources that include an EPA pamphlet and information relating to existing hazards in the property as part of a lead-based paint disclosure for any property built before 1978.
To learn more about required disclosures in Wisconsin, click here.
Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Laws
- Warranty of Habitability – Wisconsin landlords are required by law to provide tenants with hot/cold water, HVAC, plumbing, electric outlets, and more. Repairs to these amenities must also be made within a “reasonable” timeframe. Otherwise, an effected tenant may be empowered to seek rent abatement. A tenant may not outright withhold rent or use the repair and deduct method.
- Evictions – Wisconsin landlords may evict tenants for a number of reasons including, but not limited to failure to pay rent, a violation of a leasing term, or committing an illegal act. Landlords must provide tenants with prior notice to pay, comply or quit, depending on the type of eviction.
As such, these landlords can usually carry out their evictions within two-weeks to four-months.
- Security Deposits – Wisconsin law does not impose a standard limit on security deposits charged by landlords. It does require that landlords return these deposits within 21 days after a lease concludes.
- Lease Termination – By issuing 28 days of notice, a Wisconsin tenant may break off their month-to-month lease early. Meanwhile, a fixed-term tenant may only be able to do the same if they provide evidence of landlord harassment, unit uninhabitability, active military duty, or domestic violence.
- Rent Increases & Fees – Wisconsin landlords may raise rent as much as they want without issuing any justification or prior notice. Wisconsin has no statute for the amount a landlord can charge for late fees or insufficient funds. These fees should be in the lease agreement.
- Landlord Entry – Before entering an occupied unit legally, a Wisconsin landlord must issue 12 hours of advance notice. However, this notice requirement is not considered applicable in emergency situations.
- Settling Legal Disputes – Ongoing landlord-tenant disputes in Wisconsin may be arbitrated through the state’s small claims court. However, this venue generally accepts cases (including evictions) valued at up to $10,000.
To learn more about landlord tenant laws in Wisconsin, click here.