A Wisconsin rental agreement is a legal contract between a landlord overseeing a rental property and a tenant who wishes to use it. Wisconsin landlord-tenant law governs these agreements; rental terms must be within the limits allowed by law.
Wisconsin Rental Agreement Types
A Wisconsin roommate agreement is a legal contract between two or more people (“co-tenants”) who share a rental property according to rules they set, including for things like splitting the rent. This agreement binds the co-tenants living together, and doesn’t include the landlord.
Common Residential Rental Agreements in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Realtors Association Residential Lease – this template, is for use only by members of the Wisconsin Realtors Association only. It is in common use throughout Wisconsin, and provides an extensive list of rules and procedures. This includes provisions relating to guests, domestic abuse, and electronic forms of notice and communication.
Wisconsin Required Residential Lease Disclosures
- Landlord’s Name and Address (required for all leases) – Wisconsin requires that landlords provide contact information in a lease agreement. This establishes a clear channel of communication for serving legal notice.
- Utility Disclosure (required for some leases) – Wisconsin landlords must specify any utilities paid for by the tenant, to alert them of this responsibility.
- Shared Utility Arrangements (required for some leases) – Wisconsin properties which share a master meter or submeter for utilities must disclose how utility charges are split between each party.
- Move-In Checklist (required for all leases) – Landlords in Wisconsin are required to provide tenants a move-in checklist (sometimes called a “check-in sheet”) outlining any flaws in the condition of the rental property. This sheet must be returned within 7 days of move-in, and should be held by the landlord until deductions are complete at the end of the lease.
- Pre-Existing Damages Disclosure (required for some leases) – Wisconsin grants new tenants the right to inspect a residence for seven days when beginning a new lease. Tenants may also request a receipt of any damages from the previous tenant. Landlords must disclose these rights.
- Notice of Domestic Abuse Protections (required for all leases) – All Wisconsin leases must incorporate a specific excerpt from the statue on domestic abuse protection. This advises tenants they have a right to end their lease early in certain abuse cases.
- Nonstandard Rental Provision Disclosure (required for some leases) – Any nonstandard Wisconsin leasing procedures, such as terms of notice upon entry, must be outlined in a separate attachment titled “NONSTANDARD PROVISIONS” and signed by all parties. There may otherwise be enforceability issues if any provisions get challenged.
- Code Violation Disclosure (required for some leases) – Wisconsin landlords must disclose any known code violations that pose a health risk and exist at the beginning of the tenancy.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some leases) – For any property built before 1978, a Wisconsin residential lease must contain a lead-based paint disclosure with an EPA informational pamphlet, plus notice of any lead hazards on the property.
To learn more about required disclosures in Wisconsin, click here.
Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Laws
- Warranty of Habitability – Wisconsin landlords must rent out only habitable rental property, which includes hot water, heating, electricity, and plumbing, among other things. Tenants can expect completed repairs, “promptly,” after giving proper notice. If a landlord fails to repair promptly, a tenant may reduce rent payments or terminate the lease. Full rent withholding isn’t allowed, nor repairing and deducting.
- Evictions – Wisconsin landlords may evict tenants for a number of reasons such as failure to pay rent, lease violations, or illegal acts. The notice and grace period depend on the eviction type (notice to pay, comply, or quit). Eviction usually takes between 2-16 weeks depending on complexity.
- Security Deposits – Wisconsin law does not have a maximum cap on security deposits. It does require that landlords return any deposit within 21 days after a lease ends.
- Lease Termination – Wisconsin tenant may terminate a month-to-month lease with 28 days of advance notice. Fixed-term tenants are generally bound by the lease term unless they can prove landlord harassment, unit uninhabitability, active military duty, or domestic abuse.
- Rent Increases and Fees – Wisconsin does not have a maximum cap on rent increases or any prior notice requirements for an increase. There is also no state cap on fees for late payments or insufficient funds. Terms for these matters are almost always negotiated in the lease.
- Landlord Entry – Wisconsin landlords must provide at least 12 hours of advance notice before entering a rental property, unless there’s an emergency. Lawful entry is limited to purposes reasonably related to the tenancy, like repairs and inspections.
- Settling Legal Disputes – Wisconsin allows resolution of landlord-tenant disputes in the state small claims court, as long as the amount in controversy is under $10,000.
To learn more about landlord tenant laws in Wisconsin, click here.