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Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Law

Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Law


Wisconsin has some specific laws which are established for landlords and tenants. These laws specify the obligations of landlords and tenants. Wisconsin landlord tenant law deals with the rights of tenants, eviction proceedings, the tenant’s security deposit and many other legal issues that arise between landlords and tenants. This law is intended to serve as a guide for both landlords and tenants in settling disputes, maintaining good relations with each other and to provide legal assistance for those who are involved in these issues.

General Obligations of Landlords

According to Wisconsin law, landlords have several obligations. Some obligations of landlords are listed below:

1. Disclosure of lead paint: If the rental unit was built before 1978, the landlord must inform the tenant about lead paint hazards.

2. Maintenance of rental unit: The landlord must keep the rental unit in good condition and habitable. This includes keeping the rental unit free from any hazardous conditions, providing heat and hot water, and making any necessary repairs.

3. Presence of smoke detectors: The landlord is required to provide smoke detectors. The landlord must test the smoke detectors before the tenant moves in and ensure that they are functioning properly and have batteries.

4. Objectionable activities: The landlord must prevent objectionable activities that can be dangerous to tenants. For instance, if the landlord discovers illegal drug sales or activity taking place in the premises, they must take action to prevent such activity.

5. Privacy: The landlord must respect the privacy of tenants. The landlord cannot enter the rental unit without the tenant’s consent unless there is a genuine emergency.

General Obligations of Tenants

Tenants in Wisconsin have obligations that must be followed. Some obligations of tenants are listed below:

1. Payment of rent: The tenant must pay rent on time. In case of late payment, the landlord has the right to charge late fees.

2. Maintenance of rental unit: The tenant must maintain cleanliness in the rental unit. The tenant must keep the rental unit in good condition and avoid causing any damage to the property.

3. Property damages: The tenant must notify the landlord about any damages that have occurred on the property as soon as possible.

4. Objectionable activities: The tenant must avoid any activities that may cause danger to themselves or the property.

5. Compliance with landlord rules: The tenant must comply with any rules and regulations set by the landlord.

Security Deposits

In Wisconsin, landlords are allowed to charge security deposits. The maximum amount of a security deposit is one month’s rent. Landlords can hold the security deposit for 21 days after the tenant moves out to cover any damages that may have occurred.

If the security deposit is used by the landlord to cover damage cost, the landlord must provide an itemized list of repairs and damages done on the property. The landlord must give the tenant a written explanation of the deduction from the security deposit.


In Wisconsin, landlords cannot evict a tenant without a legal proceeding. If the landlord wants to evict a tenant, they must have a legal reason. Common reasons for eviction may include:

1. Non-payment of rent

2. Breach of rental agreement

3. Illegal activity

4. Destruction of property

If the landlord wants to evict a tenant for any reason, they must first give the tenant a written notice. The notice must include the reason for eviction and the period given for the tenant to vacate the property. The period given typically ranges from 5-30 days.

If the tenant doesn’t comply with the notice to vacate, the landlord must file a lawsuit called an eviction action. The purpose of the eviction action is to seek an order from the court to allow the landlord to remove the tenant from the property. The tenant has the right to contest the eviction in court.

Landlord’s Right of Entry

Landlords in Wisconsin are not allowed to enter the property without prior notification. Landlords must provide the tenant with reasonable notice before entering the property. The notice period generally ranges from 12-24 hours. The only exception to this rule is in case of an emergency.


Wisconsin law prohibits landlords from retaliating against a tenant who exercises their rights under the law. Retaliation may be in the form of eviction, raising rent or imposing unreasonable charges against the tenant. If a tenant feels that the landlord has retaliated, the tenant may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).


Wisconsin landlord tenant law is intended to provide a framework for the relationship between landlords and tenants. The law spells out the legal obligations of landlords and tenants and also outlines the rights of tenants. This law helps to protect tenants from exploitation and ensures that landlords meet their obligations. Tenants who feel that their rights have been violated should contact an attorney or the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

Understanding Wisconsin Landlord-Tenant Law

Renting is always the first step toward independence as far as being on your own. It’s that step right before homeownership. So know that in Wisconsin it’s important to know what the law is.

Basics of Wisconsin Landlord-Tenant Law

1. Possession

2. Privacy

3. Prohibition

Those are three key points to understanding how Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws work. For starters, know that it plainly states in Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws that the tenant has the right to possess the property of the landlord upon completion of contracted lease.

This, however, doesn’t mean the tenant owns the property – just possesses it.

That means the tenant has a right to privacy, has a right to live quietly, without interference from the landlord or any other persons. Wisconsin landlord-tenant law even states that a tenant can charge a landlord with trespassing if the landlord steps onto the property without any reason or notice.

That being said, Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws state that a landlord does have a right to step onto the property for the purposes of maintaining property and repairs so long as the landlord provides suitable notice of arrival.

As for prohibition under WI landlord-tenant law? Wisconsin landlord-tenant law even states that a landlord must not divulge information about the tenant anywhere else or in any fashion. That falls in line with the Wisconsin landlord-tenant law of privacy.

In addition, under Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws, no landlord may contract with another tenant for a piece of property already possessed by a tenant, as that is a breach of contract.

Surprisingly, the WI landlord-tenant law is pretty tight on this issue: acceptance of rent. Pertaining to the issue of eviction due to non-payment of rent, the WI landlord-tenant law expressly specifies that even if the landlord accepted a late payment of rent after an eviction notice was sent out, the particular eviction still carries through in a court of law.

In other words, a tenant would do well to send in payments on time without fail. Even if the payment is a day late, whether or not the tenant gets that payment in doesn’t matter. The eviction may still go through by rule of the WI landlord-tenant law.

Additionally, on the shoulders of any landlord, any premises must be rendered fit for living, or else it’s a breach of contract for the tenant to constructively vacate. The legal term, “constructive eviction,” simply means that the tenant has the right to abandon the property without penalty and additional rent payments on the lease because the property was considered unfit and not properly taken care of by the landlord.

Another interesting piece of WI landlord-tenant law is the refusal to permit modifications on the property.

Standard knowledge would suggest that rental properties cannot be modified, because the tenant does not own the property. However, under Wisconsin landlord-tenant laws, modifications may be made if they provide compensation for some sort of disability – such as walkways, or rails, or other systems that would afford the tenant a full enjoyment of the property.

A landlord may also be required to allow a tenant the right to change back certain modifications of property that were there before the lease was contracted.