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Wisconsin Tenant Rights

Wisconsin Tenant Rights

Quick Guide to Wisconsin Tenant Rights

Some Wisconsin tenant rights reflect the laws and statutes of other states, but some of the laws are very different.  Many of these laws have changed within the last year, and most of the laws became active during December of 2011.  Some of your WI tenant rights that you thought you were entitled to within the past are now eliminated.  You should be aware of your new WI tenant rights.  

Newly Changed Wisconsin Tenant Rights

Rights have changed regarding the application process, security deposits, and the lease itself.  Some of these changes fall below:

Application Process

• Landlord’s can now consider the tenant’s occupation when thinking about signing them under a lease. 

• Landlords can research court records when considering signing a tenant.  A landlord can deny a tenant even if a crime occurred many years ago.

• Landlord’s can now require a tenant’s social security number on the application.  

Security Deposits

• Landlord can now ask tenants to pay any amount as a security deposit.  Normally, a security deposit equals one month’s rent, but a landlord can now ask for more. 

• Landlord’s do not need check-in forms, check-out forms, and photos in order to deduct damages from a security deposit.  However, you can still dispute the deductions under Wisconsin tenant rights.  

• Landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits anymore. 

During Lease Period

• Landlord can show the rental unit and begin a new lease at any point throughout the former lease agreement.

• Landlords must also only give a 12 hour notice in order to show a rental unit.  

You still have WI Tenant Rights

Apart from the denial of former rights above, you still have many rights as a tenant.  Wisconsin tenant rights still apply to discrimination, security deposits, and the lease period.  Some of these rights fall below. 


Apart from an occupational status, a landlord still can’t deny a property to someone based upon the following: 

• Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, mental or physical disability, family status, sexual orientation, marital status, or age

• Type of military discharge

• Physical appearance

• Gender identity 

• Domestic partnership status

• Political beliefs

• Student status

• Level of Section 8 rental assistance 

Security Deposits

Under your Wisconsin tenant rights, you can still sue landlords for unlawful withholds on your security deposit, but tenants can only sue for twice the amount of what was unlawfully withheld.  Additionally, a landlord must still return the security deposit within 21 days of the tenant leaving the property.  

Unfortunately for the tenant, if a landlord doesn’t return the security deposit within 21 days, they still don’t owe the tenant the full amount unless the tenant begins the complaint process.  

Landlords can only reduce the returned deposit upon the following:

• Unpaid rent

• Unpaid utilities

• Unpaid parking fees

• Neglectful damages

During Lease Period

Under Wisconsin tenant rights, a landlord must still give a tenant a chance to compile a list of damages that existed before they moved in.  Landlords must also give a 24 hour notice (unless they are showing the apartment) in order to make repairs.