Wisconsin Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: July 15, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

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 below disclosures are required for some or all residential lease agreements in Wisconsin.

Disclosure Applicable to
Landlord’s Name/Address All Units
Utilities Units Where Utilities Aren’t Included
Shared Utilities Units with Shared Utility Meters
Check-In All Units
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
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Landlord’s Name & Address

Applicable to all rental units in Wisconsin.

Creates a line of communication for important notices and demands between tenant and landlord. Landlords or any authorized individual to act on behalf of the property should provide contact information (including their address) within or alongside the lease.

Utility Disclosure

Applicable to leases where the utilities are not included in the rent in Wisconsin.

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. This information must also be disclosed before the landlord accepts any money or security deposit.

Shared Utility Arrangements

Applicable to any building with submetering or shared utility meters in Wisconsin.

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. Below is a sample of a shared utility arrangement disclosure:

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.

Download: Wisconsin Shared Utility Disclosure Form (PDF)

Check-In Sheet

Applicable to all rental units in Wisconsin.

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 7 days of the lease commencing.

Download: Wisconsin Move-In Checklist Disclosure Form (PDF)

Pre-Existing Damages Disclosure

Applicable to any lease that charges a security deposit in Wisconsin.

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. This can also include a tenant’s request for a checklist of damages that were charged to the previous tenant and whether these damages were addressed within seven days of the beginning of tenancy.

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. The notice should contain the below 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 in Wisconsin.

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 in Wisconsin.

If a landlord or building manager is aware of any code violations existing in the building, they must be disclosed in the lease agreement. Violations can include defects affecting the habituality of the dwelling unit or a threat to health and/or safety.

Some examples of code violations include:

  • The lack of hot or cold running water.
  • Lack of heating to maintain livable temperature (67° F).
  • Unsafe electrical connections.
  • Structural hazards.
  • Lack of effective plumbing or sewage disposal.

Copies of the 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.

Download: Wisconsin Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form (PDF)

Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by Wisconsin law. These disclosures can be helpful to include to help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.

Optional Disclosure How the Disclosure is Helpful
Asbestos This disclosure informs tenants if there is asbestos at the property. If there is asbestos a tenant can take certain precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers.
Bed Bugs If the rental unit has a history of infestation, landlords should provide information on how to handle a bed bug infestation. This disclosure notifies the tenant of their obligation to cooperate with bed bug prevention and immediately report any sign of infestation to the landlord.
Late/Returned Check Fees Landlords should disclose if they will charge a late fee or a returned check fee in the lease agreement. In Wisconsin there are no restrictions on late fees and no statute on bounced checks.
Medical Marijuana Use Inform tenants if medical marijuana use on the property is permittable. Some state laws allow landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or inform tenants of designated smoking areas to not interfere with other tenants’ enjoyment of the premises.
Mold Disclosure Informing the tenant of the current mold status of a property protects the landlord against future liability of mold damages.
Non-Refundable Fees A non-refundable charge must be written in the lease agreement. If a non-refundable charge is not written in the lease, the tenant may be subject to a refund upon termination of the lease.
Smoking Inform tenants of designated smoking areas to not interfere with other tenants’ enjoyment of the premises.

Consequences of Not Including Mandatory Disclosures

Disclosures outline the important health, safety, and property information and vary by state. If a landlord does not provide the tenant with the federally or state-mandated disclosures, they could face legal repercussions or monetary penalties.

If a landlord fails to disclose the lead-based paint hazard disclosure, they can face fines of up to $18,364 per violation. (24 CFR § 30.65)

It’s best to check with your local and state laws on which disclosures you must provide to your tenant.

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