The Wisconsin residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a binding document used to formalize an agreement between a landlord and tenant to rent real property for a fee. This contract is governed by Wisconsin landlord-tenant law and includes terms and conditions outlining the responsibilities of each party.
Wisconsin Lease Agreement Disclosures
The following disclosures are either required for some or all residential lease agreements in Wisconsin.
|Landlord’s Name/Address||All Units|
|Utilities||Units Where Utilities Aren’t Included|
|Shared Utilities||Units with Shared Utility Meters|
|Pre-Existing Damages||All Units Charging a Security Deposit|
|Domestic Abuse||All Units|
|Nonstandard Provisions||Landlord/Tenant Agree to Nonstandard Lease Provisions|
|Code Violations||Units with Violations|
|Lead Paint||All Units Prior to 1978|
There are also a number of optional disclosures and addendums that help reduce future conflicts and/or legal liability in Wisconsin.
Landlord’s Name & Address
Applicable to all rental units in Wisconsin.
Landlords, owners, or any individual authorized to manage the rental property must disclose their name and address so future legal notices and demands that are sent by the tenant can be properly delivered to the authorized individual. Generally, this information is provided in the rental agreement and shall be provided to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy.
Applicable to leases where the utilities are not included in the rent.
If water, heat, or electricity is not included in the rent, the landlord must disclose this information to the tenant before the commencement of tenancy and before accepting any money or security deposit.
Shared Utility Arrangements
Applicable to any building with submetering or shared utility meters.
It is legally required that landlords in Wisconsin disclose the specifics of how utilities are split between multiple tenants and common areas. Options include charging by square footage of the property, the number of tenants, or any other method of the landlord’s choosing.
UTILITIES: This rental unit shares the following utilities with another unit or common area:
[ ] Electricity
[ ] Water
[ ] Gas
[ ] Sewage
[ ] Other:__________
This lease uses the following method for calculating utility charges between Tenant(s):
[ ] Home Square Footage
[ ] Number of Tenants
[ ] Even Split Between Tenants
[ ] Other:___________________________________________________________
Tenant agrees to pay the monthly utility charge to Landlord, plus a $__ service charge as part of each month’s rental payment.
Applicable to all rental units.
Wisconsin requires that landlords provide a check-in checklist (usually alongside the rental agreement) that outlines the inventory and the tenant may also write comments and details about the condition of the property. The tenant must return the sheet to the landlord within seven days of the lease commencing.
Pre-Existing Damages Disclosure
Applicable to any lease that charges a security deposit.
Similar to a move-in checklist, Wisconsin landlords are required to provide notice to potential tenants that they have a right to inspect the dwelling for damages or request a checklist of damages charged to the previous tenant and whether they were addressed within seven days of tenancy beginning.
RIGHT TO INSPECTION AND PRE-EXISTING DAMAGES. Tenant(s) possesses a right to inspect the premises for defects within 7 days of lease commencement. Tenant(s) may also request a receipt of the previous tenant’s security deposit charges and their status upon the commencement of the new lease.
Notice of Domestic Abuse Protections
Applicable to all rental units in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin landlords must provide a notice about the protection afforded to victims of domestic abuse in the rental agreement or as an addendum to the rental agreement. The notice should contain the following excerpt:
NOTICE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE PROTECTIONS. As provided in section 106.50 (5m) (dm) of the Wisconsin statutes, a tenant has a defense to an eviction action if the tenant can prove that the landlord knew, or should have known, the tenant is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking and that the eviction action is based on conduct related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking committed by either of the following:
(a) A person who was not the tenant’s invited guest.
(b) A person who was the tenant’s invited guest, but the tenant has done either of the following:
1. Sought an injunction barring the person from the premises.
2. Provided a written statement to the landlord stating that the person will no longer be an invited guest of the tenant and the tenant has not subsequently invited the person to be the tenant’s guest.
A tenant who is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking may have the right to terminate the rental agreement in certain limited situations, as provided in section 704.16 of the Wisconsin statutes. If the tenant has safety concerns, the tenant should contact a local victim service provider or law enforcement agency.
A tenant is advised that this notice is only a summary of the tenant’s rights and the specific language of the statutes governs in all instances.
Nonstandard Rental Provision Disclosure
Applicable to leases where a landlord and tenant agree on nonstandard provisions to include in the lease.
When a nonstandard rental provision is agreed upon, such as the ability to enter the premises without 24 hours of notice, the provision must be disclosed in a document titled “NONSTANDARD PROVISIONS” along with the lease. The landlord must identify and discuss the provision with the tenant and both parties must sign or initial the document to agree.
Code Violation Disclosure
Applicable to known violations that affect habituality.
If a landlord or building manager is aware of any code violations existing in the building, these violations must be disclosed to potential tenants in the lease agreement if they affect the habituality of the dwelling unit to be leased, pose a threat to health or safety, or have been outstanding past the deadline received on notice.
Violations can include:
- Lack of hot or cold running water.
- Lack of heating to maintain livable temperature (67° F).
- Lacking or unsafe electrical connections.
- Structural hazards.
- Lack of effective plumbing or sewage disposal.
Copies of the notices of violation from the code enforcement authority may serve as property disclosure.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.
It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in Wisconsin to:
- Fill out and attach this lead-based paint disclosure form to the lease agreement.
- Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint.
- Provide additional records or reports about the presence or hazards of any known lead-based paint in the unit. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.
Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)
The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by Wisconsin law in residential lease agreements, but either help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.
- Late and Returned Check Fees – it is recommended that landlords disclose in the lease any late fees or returned (bounced) check fees that they intend to charge. Wisconsin does not limit how high these fees can be, but they should be considered reasonable (often no more than 10% of rent) and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. They must also be charged only after the agreed upon due date for rent, dictated in the lease.
- Bed Bug Disclosure – for rental units with a history of infestation, it is recommended to provide information on the protocol for handling a bed bug infestation. This addendum will notify the tenant of their obligation to cooperate with bed bug prevention by promptly reporting any sign of infestation to the landlord.
- Asbestos Disclosure – for rental units built prior to 1981, asbestos was a common building material. This disclosure will notify the tenant to take certain precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers (i.e. no sanding, pounding, modifications or repairs, without the landlord’s consent). The disclosure will also notify the tenant of their obligation to immediately notify the landlord if any ceilings begin to deteriorate.
- Mold Disclosure – it is recommended to disclose the current mold status of a property in the lease to protect against future liability of mold damages due to the tenant’s negligence during the lease term.