Wisconsin Rental Laws

Written on September 26, 2013 by , updated on January 11, 2019

Join the Apartment Association of Southeastern WisconsinThis article summarizes some key Wisconsin Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules and Regulations

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Limit! (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06
  • Security Deposit Interest: No (source)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No separate pet deposit needed since there is no limit on what you can charge for a security deposit.  Landlords can charge up to $20 to a tenant to perform a background/credit check (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.05(4))
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days after either the date on which the tenant’s rental agreement terminates or the date on which a new tenant’s tenancy begins if the landlord re-rents the premises before the tenant’s rental agreement terminates. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(2))
  • Receipt of Deposit: Written Receipt is required if the deposit is paid for in cash, or if requested by the tenant. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.03(2a))
  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(4))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Increase Notice: 28 days notice for a Month-to-Month lease (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.19(3))
  • Late Fees: Allowed, but all fees must be disclosed in the lease. (source)
  • Prepaid Rent: Any rent payment that is more than one month’s prepaid rent is considered to be a security deposit. Nothing in the rules prevents a landlord from collecting more than one month’s rent as security. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.02(11))
  • Returned Check Fees: No Statute
  • Receipt of Rent: Written receipt is required if tenant pays rent with cash. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.03(2b))
  • Pre-examination and Copies of Lease: Rental agreements and rules and regulations established by the landlord, if in writing, shall be furnished to prospective tenants for their inspection before a rental agreement is entered into, and before any earnest money or security deposit is accepted from the prospective tenant. Copies shall be given to the tenant at the time of agreement. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.03(1))
  • Automatic Lease Renewal: Tenants with a yearly lease must be reminded at least 15 to 30 days in advance of the landlord automatically renewing or extending the lease – assuming there is a provision in the lease. (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.15)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Shelter, Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, if the property is severely damaged or uninhabitable (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.07(4))
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Self-Help Evictions: No (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.09(7))
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Please refer to Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 799.25(10)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.29(2)(b))

Notices and Entry:

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Rules:

  • Information Check-in Sheet: Landlord must provide a new residential tenant a check-in inspection sheet at the beginning of occupancy. Tenant has 7 days to complete and return it to the Landlord (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.04(8))
  • Check-in Procedures: Tenants who pay a security deposit have 7 days from the start-date of the rental agreement to inspect the property for previous damages. Tenants should provide a written list of damages to their landlords, and keep a copy of the list for their personal records. Photos are also recommended. A tenant may also request a list of physical damages or defects, if any, charged to the previous tenant’s security deposit. The landlord may require the tenant to make this request, if any, in writing (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(1)(a)).
  • Pre-existing Damages: If a tenant makes a request, the landlord shall provide the tenant with a list of all physical damages or defects charged to the previous tenant’s security deposit, regardless of whether those damages or defects have been repaired. The landlord shall provide the list within 30 days after the landlord receives the request, or within 7 days after the landlord notifies the previous tenant of the security deposit deductions, whichever occurs later. The landlord may explain that some or all of the listed damages or defects have been repaired, if that is the case. The landlord need not disclose the previous tenant’s identity, or the amounts withheld from the previous tenant’s security deposit. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(1)(b))
  • Special Treatment: A landlord cannot end or refuse to renew your tenancy based upon the fact that you or a member of your household is a victim of a documented act of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 106.50(5m)).  A landlord may not evict a tenant solely because of their status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 106.50(5m)(dm)).  Landlords are still allowed to evict anyone because of non-payment or a lease violation.
  • Termination of Tenancy for Imminent Threat: Landlord and Tenant may terminate a tenancy if a tenant or a child of the tenant faces an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if the tenant remains on the premises. (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.16)
  • Locks: Landlord must change the locks within 48 hours of tenant providing a certified copy of an injunction or criminal complaint in which the tenant is in jeopardy.  The tenant is responsible for the cost of changing the locks.  (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.16)
  • Abandoned Personal Property:  If a tenant leaves behind personal property, the landlord may presume, in the absence of a written agreement between the landlord and the tenant to the contrary, that the tenant has abandoned the personal property and may dispose of the abandoned personal property in any manner that the landlord, in his/her sole discretion, determines is appropriate (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.05(5)(a)). If landlord sells or auctions any of the tenant’s personal property, the proceeds must be given to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which uses the money to help feed the homeless (Wis. Stat Ann. §§ 704.05(5)(2)).  The specific time required between giving notice and selling the property are outlined in the 2011 Assembly Bill 561.
  • Pesticide Use: Wisconsin’s pesticide law also requires that pesticide applicators provide residents with certain information at the time of the application. The information must be in writing and it should be left with an adult at the residence or placed near the entrance to the dwelling. (source)
    Residents must be told:

    • The applicator’s name, address and license number.
    • A phone number that the resident can call for more information on the application.
    • The brand name, product name or common chemical name of the pesticide applied.
    • Amount of pesticide used and area treated or the concentration and total quantity of each pesticide applied.
    • Any needed precautions such as how long to stay out of the treated area. If residents cannot enter the treated area, the applicator must also post a warning sign.
    • The date and approximate starting and ending time of the application.
    • Notice that a copy of the label is available upon request.
  • Retaliation: A residential landlord may not increase rent, decrease services, bring an action for possession of the premises, refuse to renew a lease or threaten any of the foregoing, if there is evidence that the action or inaction would not occur but for the landlord’s retaliation against the tenant for doing any of the following (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.45):
    • Making a good faith complaint about a defect in the premises to an elected public official or a local housing code enforcement agency.
    • Complaining to the landlord about a violation of s. 704.07 or a local housing code applicable to the premises.
    • Exercising a legal right relating to residential tenancies.
    • Note:  A landlord may bring an action for possession of the premises if the tenant has not paid rent (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.44(2))
  • Code Violations and Conditions Affecting Habitability. Before entering into a rental agreement or accepting any earnest money or security deposit from the prospective tenant, the landlord shall disclose any code violations and conditions affecting habitability. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.04(2))
  • Identification of Landlord or Authorized Agents: Landlord shall disclose the names and addresses of all persons authorized to receive rent, manage the property, or have ownership in the property. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.04(1))

Court Related:

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415 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • mel

    I have a month to month lease, which requires 60 days notice. I didnt give my notice until july 9th of the month instead of the 1st of the month. Seeing as I didnt give it on the first ill have to pay all of August and September even though Im moving September 8th, right?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mel

      You would have to follow the instructions in your lease. The Wisconsin statutes don’t specify whether or not notice has to be given in respect to the payment date or the first of the month. However, that is typically the standard practice with leases.

      If your lease doesn’t say “60 days notice ….as of the 1st of the month”, then you might be able to argue that you have no obligation to give notice as of the 1st of the month. But then again, if the landlord informed you beforehand, that could count as sufficient notice.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, and only an attorney would be able to give you legal advice applicable to your specific situation.

      • Cardell briggs

        More of a question. I got hit with pass due electric bills and each time i pay off one 3 to 4months down the road i get cut of i live in apartment building the landd has tretened to evict me i am on disability as my wife also the bill is ours the lease is moth to month annd there is nothing stated about out utilitys can he do that please respond

  • Ben

    Hi,

    I moved out of a house that changed ownership halfway thru my tenancy. My landlord sent me a checkout form that said I did not have a deposit on file, did not owe for damages and owed back rent. I did owe them back rent, which I’m not disputing. I reproduced the original lease that said I paid a $1300 deposit, which they agreed to pay me minus backrent, but now they wanted to revise my checkout form which said I did in fact owe them for damages. They took $150 out for cat urine damage and $150 for holes in dry wall, even though a first checkout form said no damage. The first checkout form was mailed to me and arrived exactly 21 days later as per Wisconsin law. The revised check out form came two weeks after that. If it was my fault I would have gladly paid it if they had put it on the first checkout form but now I can’t tell if they’re telling the truth. The change in their attitude clearly coincided with their understanding that they owed me money. Is this legal?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ben,

      I’m not a lawyer, but since the second letter came after the 21 days, I would argue that they can’t claim anything extra. They had their chance, and shouldn’t be able to modify it. Further, Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.06(2) states that the landlord must give you back any remaining deposit (not just the notice of withholding) within 21 days. Have they sent you any money yet?

      It does sound sketchy, so I think you are right to stand your ground. I would do the same thing. Keep in mind (again), I’m not a lawyer.

  • Michelle

    Hi,

    My husband and I have been building our credit to buy a house. We lease in WI and it doesn’t say anything in our lease about not being able to move during the winter months, when our credit should be at good scores for us to get preapproved. My husband is insisting it’s a state law that tenants cannot move from November until April, the ‘winter’ months. I want to know if that is true or if we can keep looking for houses so once we are approved and find something we can give our notice. We have been here for 10 years and are on a month to month lease. Thank you if you can answer this for me!
    ~Michelle

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your question. I have researched the statutes quite a bit, but I am not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice. I have not seen any law or statute that prohibits a tenant from moving-out in the winter months, provided that the lease doesn’t prohibit it.

      In many of the northern states, landlords will require 60-90 days notice if the tenant wants to move out during the winter months. This is strictly to give the landlord more time to find a replacement. Finding new tenants is difficult when it’s cold outside, so landlords need more time, and therefore they put that in their lease.

      If you lease doesn’t prohibit you from terminating your lease during the winter, then I don’t believe there is any statute that prohibits you either. You should ask your husband to “prove it” by researching and citing the statute or lease clause.

      Congrats on building your credit! Good luck finding a house!

  • Ruby

    I have a tenant that did not pay rent due on the first of the month on a month-to-month lease. She was hoping that I would present her with an eviction notice so she could apply for some Wisconsin state benefit that would help her to pay her rent. She has breached the lease on numerous occassions. I no longer want her as a tenant and gave her a 30 day notice vacate as provided in the lease. Should she hold over, I plan to file an eviction. If her lease is terminated, does this Wisconsin state benefit apply? Can the state of Wisconsin force me to rent to her?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ruby,

      I wish I could help, but I honestly don’t know anything about the WI state benefit for people who can’t pay their rent. My assumption is that once the lease is terminated, you don’t have to accept rent from her, or anyone else on behalf of her.

      The only times that I’ve ever heard of a judge forcing a landlord to rent to someone is in cases of illegal discrimination, domestic violence, or unlawful (self-help) eviction – none of which seem to apply in this situation.

      If you simply terminate the month-the-month lease, Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.19(3) says you only need to give 28 days notice. Because it is a month-to-month lease, neither party needs a reason to terminate the lease – which is the blessing and the curse of a at-will lease.

      If you are trying to terminate it based on a lease violation, then according to Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(1), you only need to give 14 days notice – however, you would need to document the reason and provide evidence.

      Once the lease has been terminated at the end of your notice period, DO NOT accept any more rent from her. If you do, you might be entering into another month-to-month agreement and then will be forced to start the eviction process over again. You are entitled to receive rent for every day that she lives there, but once you start the eviction process (assuming she doesn’t leave), you’ll have to wait until after you win the eviction, or she vacates, to collect the over-due money.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, but rather an experienced landlord. I highly suggest you talk to an attorney before taking any action.

  • Robert

    I put a deposit down on an apartment in Wisconsin last month. The landlord of the building insisted I sign the lease, even though people were still living in the unit. I told him I was uncomfortable signing the lease without a thorough inspection of the unit. But he promised a walk thru before my move in day, so I signed. He never followed through with doing the walkthrough. The landlord had 19 days to fix up place before I moved in. On my move in day I saw that the apartment wasn’t in decent shape. Cosmetic damage from previous tenants still existed (nails stuck in walls, fried electrical outlet, place hadn’t been painted, etc). I took photos as evidence. Due to concerns about the electrical outlet, I didn’t feel safe moving into the place. Landlord never provided check-in sheet either, which was stipulated on the lease. I had complained about the poor condition of the unit and sent a written complaint about not receiving a check-in sheet. He actually told me to use the nails the previous residents left to hang my own stuff up. Once I realized the guy was a slumlord, I exercised the $300 re-rental clause in my lease. Given the fact the slumlord lied about doing a walkthrough to get me to sign the lease and didn’t provide a check-in sheet and didn’t bother to even fix up the place….can I pursue legal action to recover rent, re-rental fee and deposit? Do you think I’d have a good case?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your question. I want to try and clarify some things for you.

      1. Most rental properties are shown to potential tenants while there is still someone living there. This is the norm, and it is so that the landlord can line up the next tenant before the old one leaves.

      2. Typically, the move-in inspection is performed by the tenant (and sometimes with the landlord) a few days after moving-in. It’s an opportunity for the tenant to document the condition and point out anything that needs fixing. Then, the tenant is held to that standard when he/she moves-out. Though the landlord *should* have given you a move-in inspection form, there was nothing stopping you from taking pictures and documenting the condition on a piece of paper. Then you could have turned that into the landlord as evidence. Waiting on the landlord to give you a piece of paper is not a very strong reason as to why you never documented the condition.

      3. It does sound like the property needed a little repair before you moved-in, and I believe the landlord should have fixed it up. However, none of the issues that you mentioned are things that effect habitability. The broken outlet needs to be replaced, and potentially could be a fire hazard, but it doesn’t make the rest of the place unlivable.

      I wouldn’t call this guy a slumlord. A slumlord is someone who lets his tenants go without heat, water, and essential utilities. He just didn’t clean it up between tenants.

      What’s the $300 re-rental clause say? Is that were you are allowed to sublet, or does it allow you to get out of your lease altogether?

      In all honestly, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think you have a case at all. Yes, the outlet needed fixing, but that’s only a $30-50 fix by a junior electrician. Heck, you could have just hired someone and taken it out of the rent. Everything else was cosmetic, and does not warrant a rent refund.

      If you are subletting, just be aware that you are still responsible for the rent if your sublessee doesn’t pay.

      Like I said, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help.

      • Robert

        ATCP 134.04 Disclosure requirements. (b) The following conditions affecting habitability, the existence of which the landlord knows or could know on basis of reasonable inspection, whether or not notice has been received from code enforcement authorities: 3. The dwelling unit is not served by electricity, or the electrical wiring, outlets, fixtures or other components of the electrical system are not in safe operating condition.

        Isn’t it the landlords responsibility to do a reasonable inspection of unit and disclose any issues affecting habitability?

        704.08 Check-in sheet. A landlord shall provide to a new residential tenant when the tenant commences his or her occupancy of the premises a check-in sheet that the tenant may use to make comments, if any, about the condition of the premises. The tenant shall be given 7 days from the date the tenant commences his or her occupancy to complete the check-in sheet and return it to the landlord. The landlord is not required to provide the check-in sheet to a tenant upon renewal of a rental agreement. This section does not apply to the rental of a plot of ground on which a manufactured home, as defined in s. 704.05 (5) (b) 1. a., or a mobile home, as defined in s. 704.05 (5) (b) 1. b., may be located.

        This tells me that it’s the landlords responsibility to provide a check-in sheet to the tenant. Not the other way around. Even the building inspector I spoke with said the landlord must provide a check-in sheet to tenant. I shouldn’t have to print off my own form and list the damages, although that’s what I did.

        The re-rental clause allows me to break the lease. Once the landlord finds a new tenant, I’m off the hook. I insisted the landlord put this into the lease and I’m glad I did. The way I see it, if a landlord doesn’t turn a unit over in-between tenants, he’s a slumlord. If a landlord tells you to use the nails from the previous tenants to hang your stuff, he’s a slumlord. I’m watching to make sure he mitigates as well.

  • Robert

    Not sure if you’re being serious or if you’re being sarcastic. But either way, my point is…what good are these statutes if a landlord can just pick and choose which ones to follow and which ones to ignore. If a tenant violates the lease or state statutes, the landlord would throw a fit and take them to court. But if a landlord violates the lease or state statutes, the tenant is powerless. Unless the violations are severe. This doesnt seem right to me. I lived up to my end of the bargin and the landlord failed to live up to his. Yet Im the one getting screwed. Doesnt seem fair to me. One thing is for certain though…Im never renting again.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      You hit the nail on the head. The statutes are in place to regulate the rental market, but that doesn’t mean that every landlord knows about them, or even cares to follow them. They are a lot like speed limit signs – except they are not as easily found. The laws are posted, but the landlord still makes his own choices.

      I wasn’t being sarcastic. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve researched so many state laws they are starting to blur together, so I was proud of you that you did the research yourself and found the clauses that you did.

      It sounds like you are still super frustrated at your landlord, but please don’t think you are powerless. You can take him to small claims court just as easily as he can take you there. Most landlord in major cities would probably disagree with you about the law being the in the landlord’s favor. Many times, a tenant can completely trash a property before they leave and the landlord is unable to get any compensation out of a tenant, even if he does win a judgement.

      Further, Wisconsin is the only state that I’ve come across that actually specifies that a single faulty outlet can be grounds for inhabitability. I guess the landlord screwed himself over by not fixing it in a timely manor. Most states don’t get that specific.

      Bottom line, if the landlord isn’t following the law, and you lost money because of it, you SHOULD take him to small claims. It’s your right to seek justice.

      Best of luck to you.

  • Bob

    I was wondering if we can say no to certain size and breeds of dogs to potential renters in Wisconsin? If so, what is the statue or rule for that? Secondly, what would you recommend the additional monthly pet charge or extra security deposit for an animal? Last, What type of verbiage would you recommend adding to our current lease for pet rental agreements? Thanks!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bob,

      Fortunately for landlords, pets are not a protected class. Yes, they are cute, and I love dogs, but we can certainly use “no pets” as a screening criteria.

      Since there is no limit on the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit, you can absolutely increase your deposit if you allow pets. I think it’s a good idea to do so. However, don’t charge any types of non-refundable fees – they are just not worth the drama.

      My suggestion is increase your refundable deposit by 50% for each pet that a tenant wants to keep. So if your normal deposit is one month’s rent ($1000), and then tenant has 2 dogs, the new total deposit would be $2,000 (1,000 + 500 + 500).

      The real key to dealing with pets is to be fair and consistant with all applicants. Establish your requirements before you start screening tenants (no cats, but dogs allowed, under 30lbs, any weight allowed, etc), and then treat all applicants the same. Meaning, don’t reject someone with a 70lb dog, claiming its a size issue, and then accept another person with a 90lb dog.

      Personally, I don’t exclude by breed or size. I think the big dogs are the most gentle. It’s the little ones that bark and bite too much (in my opinion).

      I wrote a huge article about this. It will help you a lot, and even includes a lease clause.

      The Definitive Guide to Renting to Tenants with Pets: http://www.landlordology.com/how-to-rent-to-tenants-with-pets/

      • Kat

        Additionally in Wisconsin, some landlords charge pet-rent. This is added to the base rate and can be around $15 to $25 per pet per month. The reason they do this is because pets cause additional wear and tear and in the past some tenants argued that the pet wear and tear was normal use, and judges stated that the rent should have covered the normal wear and tear.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Kat,

          Thanks for the comment. I agree with those landlords, that pet wear and tear is different from normal wear and tear. I’ve always thought that “normal” was in relation to a normal adult, not pets or children.

          For example, normal behavior for a toddler is to draw on the walls with a sharpie, but that would not be considered normal wear and tear. Normal behavior for a dog is to track dirt into the house and leave muddy paw prints on the carpets, but that is not normal wear and tear.

  • Greg

    Our tenant has been served a 28 day notice of termination of their month to month lease. Should I send them a receipt that indicates the pre-paid ‘last month rent payment’ they paid (along with security deposit) when they signed the lease is being applied for their last month?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Greg,

      I’m not really sure what that would accomplish. Are they not already aware of the fact that they paid last month’s rent and a deposit?

      If they end up double paying you for the last month, just give it back to them when you settle up the damages/repairs/deposit.

  • Kimberly

    Are there any legal contracts or authorization required for me to be my brother’s agent for collection of rent for his property? He has a mild cognitive disability and asked me to handle collection of security deposit, rent, and handling of all paperwork for him. There is a spot on his lease form for naming an agent for collection of rent. Will that suffice? Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kimberly,

      Given the circumstances, I don’t think anyone would argue with you or give you hard time about it. It’s a nice thing that you are doing. To make it even easier, have you considered using online rent collection? Once you set it up, the deposit and rent will transfer from your brother’s tenant’s accounts to his account automatically.

      It will eliminate the hassle of collecting rent for you, and reduce your paperwork dramatically. And, it also allows you to stay somewhat removed from the rent collection process – so you never have to touch the money or chase after unpaid rent.

      Legally, I can’t say whether you need to be a licensed property manager to technically represent your brother. In many states/counties, in order to manage a property that is not your own, you need a license. However, it’s very difficult to enforce. If you want a definitive answer, you should call a local lawyer or a property manager licensing authority. I’m not a lawyer nor should this be considered legal advice.

      If you’re interested in exploring the online rent collection idea, I recommend Cozy. It’s the best-in-class solution for independent landlords, and it’s free for 60 days. Check it out: https://cozy.co

      I use Cozy to manage my properties and I love it. ( I also work there :)

  • Katie

    Hi,

    I was told when I moved in to my apartment that I could go month-to-month after the lease was up. While that appears to be true, management neglected to tell me that there’d be an additional fee should I choose that route. My lease technically renews on Oct. 1st. I received a lease renewal in the mail today, Sept. 24th, to either renew my lease by next Tuesday, or pay month-to-month. My monthly rent increased from $825 to $865; should I choose month-to-month, it increases to $900. However, the caveat is that this place also requires a 60-day notice to vacate the premises. The caveat to that is you’re not allowed to move out between November and February. This means I either agree to 12 more months at a higher rate, month-to-month at a ridiculously higher rate until March, or I vacate within the next week and lose my security deposit. I feel like I was duped, and I’m not entirely convinced that raising my rent on such short notice is legal. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Katie

    • Katie

      I do see on my original lease that it’s stated under the “Tax” field, “Starting the January following execution hereof, the rental amount may be adjusted by Lessor to reflect property tax changes on a prorata basis and among the units of the building.”

      Does that mean the landlord is free to raise the rent without notice?

      • Lucas Hall

        Hi Katie,

        Unfortunately, the only consultation I can give you is that if your fixed-term lease is up on Sept 30, there is no expectation of renewal, so the 60 day notice probably wouldn’t hold water.

        A tenant should be able to leave at the end of the fixed-term lease without fear of losing the deposit for lack of notice – because notice is not required on fixed term lease. It does seem like a no-win situation for you, and if a judge were to see this, he’s probably agree. But what do I know… I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice. This is just my commentary as an experienced landlord.

        With that said, there is also no expectation that a landlord will keep the rent the same at renewal time. Though you think a $75 increase for a month-to-month option is high, most apartment buildings that I’ve seen charge 2x the rent for a monthly renewal. In your case, this option would cost $1650 per month where I live. It makes $900 seem a little easier to swallow, right?

        Anyway, I think you just have choice to make. If you choose to leave, and they keep your deposit, you can always go take them to small claims court – to hash out your differences.

        The clause about raising the rent due to taxes has always been controversial. The landlord should just build it into the cost of rent. But some landlords lower their rent rates so low, to pull in tenants, and then use clauses like this to compensate it. I really don’t know if that would hold up in court. You’d have to ask a lawyer.

        • Katie

          Hi, Lucas,

          Thank you for your input. My issue is not necessary that he raised the rent; my issue is that he raised the rent with a one week notice. I assume that there would be laws in place protecting the tenant in which a landlord had to give at least 28 days notice to a tenant prior to raising rent. I will reach out to a lawyer for legal advice though. Thanks!

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Katie,

          Sorry for the misunderstanding. Yes, there are laws in place, but they only seem to apply to leases that automatically renew – like monthly leases.
          Rent Increase Notice: 28 days notice for a Month-to-Month lease (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.19(3))

        • Katie

          Perhaps I didn’t communicate very well, but I thank you for your help, Lucas! Unfortunately, my lease does not automatically renew, so I guess maybe he can do this.

  • Amy

    Hi

    We rent a townhome in WI. Our building turned over ownership after 2 years of us being there about 1 year ago. Does a Pet Agreement need to be honored in the event of the sale?

    Our new landlord does not like cats and wants us to pay for 2/3 of carpet replacement.
    I have to say the carpet was in horrible shape when we moved in 3 yrs ago. Our cat has never had an accident.

    Are there laws in place about carpet replacement?

    Thanks
    Amy

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amy,

      Any document that was signed with the lease is considered part of the lease package. The lease stays in place even if ownership of the property changes. I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that your WRITTEN pet agreement would still be valid as long the original lease is valid. Please don’t take this as legal advice.

      In my experience, even if you have a pet agreement, you can only be charged for damages beyond normal wear and tear. With that said, normal wear and tear is relation to a person, not a cat. Normal behavior for a cat is to claw at the carpet – however that is not considered normal wear and tear. If there are any damages to the carpet beyond what a human would cause under normal conditions, then the tenant would be responsible for it.

      As far as I know, there are no laws regarding carpet replacement, however the standard is that the landlord must only charge the tenant for the years of carpet life that were stolen. A tenant can’t be charged full price if the landlord has gotten some normal use out of it.

      Here’s a helpful podcast episode that you should listen to: http://www.landlordology.com/ask-lucas/010-carpet-damage/

      • Amy

        Thanks Lucas!

        So now I heard that our old landlord will NOT be replacing the carpet. Because he made this choice we would not owe anything for the carpet? Just cleaning, shampooing etc…?

        Thanks
        Amy

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Amy,
          That’s great news! A professional cleaning should do it!

          Keep in mind, if there is more damage beyond normal wear and tear, that you caused, and can’t be fixed by a cleaning, you may still be responsible for partial cost to replace that section.

          But all in all, that’s great news for you! If the LL is asking you to take care of the cleaning, I suggesting hiring a professional company, and getting a receipt that you can show the LL. If you try to do it yourself by renting a machine, the LL can claim you didn’t do it well enough.

        • Amy

          Hi Lucas,

          Thank you for your help and insight! He is replacing the carpet. We are over that and willing to pay for what we were forced into. We just received a email that he wants to charge us for:
          Paint
          Masking Tape
          Drop Cloth
          Labor 15/hour $120
          Dirty Bathrooms & toliets (not true)
          Labor to clean 50/hr $25.00
          Pretty sure this illegal. I know you are not a lawyer as I can’t afford to hire one. If you can give me a link to the laws I could really use some help.
          Thanks
          Amy

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Amy,

          What specifically are you looking for? The laws re: deposit withholdings are linked in the article above.

          Further, whether or not you should be charged for painting follows the same thought process as the carpet. You are responsible for any damage beyond normal wear and tear.

          If the landlord wrongfully withholds any portion of the deposit, you could take him/her to small claims court, where often times, the judge will revoke the landlord’s right to make a claim on any portion of the deposit. But each case is different, so there’s no guarantee.

  • Carl

    What does Wisconsin law say about landlords charging extra for service dogs?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Carl,

      According to my limited research, there’s no statute on this.

      Re: Deposits, theres no separate pet deposit needed since there is no limit on what you can charge for a security deposit. (Wis. Admin. Code §§ 134.05(4))

      I don’t recommend that landlords charge any types of non-refundable fees – they are just not worth the drama.

      Further, a landlord could add on a monthly pet fee, but it has to be fair and equal to any and pets. You can’t charge one tenant a pet fee, and not others. Further, the pet fee (as with any fees) must be listed in the lease.

      Feel free to use the links above to review the statutes. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Janet

    Hi

    If I want to see a copy of the file the landlord holds on me, do they have to show me when I request it.

    Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Janet,

      Based on my limited research, I didn’t see any statutes that regulate this. However, it just seems like a good business practice to comply with your request.

      With that said, it is an odd request. What specifically are you looking for? Most, if not all of the docs in your file will be documents that you’ve already seen, like the lease, application, notices, etc. However, any sort of private notes might not be accessible as they are company information.

      Just my two cents… Not legal advice.

  • Scott

    I rent a home in the country in WI. I asked my rental company about septic pumping. They told me that it needs to be emptied at my cost when I move out, or every three years if I stay longer. This is stated in the lease, so that doesn’t bother me, but I just signed another year lease in August. During August, someone came out to pump the septic, and I never called to have it done. The man told me the owner received notice from the County that it needed to be pumped. I thought nothing of it until I received a bill October 1 from my rental company, saying I needed to pay for it.
    I asked them why it was pumped if it only needed to be pumped every 3 years. All they told me was they got a notice so they scheduled the service. I moved in a little over a year ago and they assured me that the previous tenants emptied it before they left, but have yet to show proof. I even called the County dept. responsible for the notices. They told me they have no documentation, except for the septic service in August of this year.
    I am disputing this charge with my rental company, but they expected it to be paid the day I received notice of the charge and they are now charging late fees to a disputed charge. I asked them why they didn’t just forward the previous tenants receipt to the County, but they haven’t answered that yet. I just feel this was an oversight on their part and they are trying to get me to foot the bill. Is their anything else I can do?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Scott,

      I think you have a strong argument, and I too would want to see proof.

      What seems “fair” is that if they can’t produce a copy of the previous invoice, you should only have to pay for 1/3 of the bill (assuming the tank was full). However, if the septic pump company only extracted a small amount (i.e. 1 years worth), then you should probably just pay the entire bill – as long as the bill is representative of the amount extracted.

      Could you call the septic pump company and find out how many gallons they extracted? Would they too have the previous invoice?

      FYI, if this goes to court, the judges that I’ve seen do not take lightly to late fees for things like utilities. Late fees are usually reserved for rent.

      I hope that helps.

  • Bruce Sommerfeld

    Rented a twin home to two individuals that expired in May of this year. The last 3 months of the prior lease they didn’t pay rent but kept saying they would get it to me. One renter renewed the lease and has been good on paying current rent. Looking at going to small claims court. Does the rent I received for the current lease (upped rent -they have been paying the new rent amount) have to be applied to the outstanding rent from the prior lease or does it apply to the current lease, given they are paying the new amount? Wondering if I can take both renters to court for the prior lease or if the newly paid rent has to be applied to old rent first. It’s been four months he’s been up to date with new lease.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bruce,

      In my non-legal opinion, it would all depend on how you wrote the leases. If the 2nd lease is just a renewal, then there should still be a balance on the lease for which the current lease holder owes the debt in the current lease.

      If you wrote a new lease, then the two leases have to be treated separately. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think you’d be able to terminate the new lease, if the debt is on the old lease. However, since both tenants are jointly responsible for the old debt, you certainly can ask the current tenant to pay it, and/or take both of them to court over the old debt.

      But if I were you, I would get real legal counsel on this. There’s too many wild cards in my opinion to act without talking to a lawyer.

  • Dan

    I purchased a house that had a renter in residence. Rather then ask her to leave, I allowed her to stay on. She had paid the previous no deposit so I have no deposit. Also the previous landlord cosigned for her at the electric company and I did so too. Now she has given me written notice that she was moving out by the end of October after giving me verbal notice to be out by the middle of October until I reminded her that the rental period was from the 1st to the 1st. The rent is subsidized and I have done many repairs to the house since buying it in May of this year. Now I am better off with it empty to complete repairs and get it ready for resale. However, after the verbal notice that she was leaving and stiffing me for the rent, she gave the proper written notice 28 days in advance on the 1st and now has called me on the 7th wanting me to rip up that notice and let her stay since she was not able to get the place she wanted after all. Am I under any legal obligation to allow her to stay beyond the 31st of October? Can I simply count her written notice as a cancellation of the month to month lease on her part and refuse any further rent payments? I have met all of my legal obligations to the subsidizing agency.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dan,

      Sorry for the delayed replay.

      I can’t comment on any legal repercussions since I’m not a lawyer. But for right or wrong, I can’t tell you that I would not allow her to stay past Oct 31 if she were my tenant.

      If I were in your shoes, I would simply respond by saying “I’m sorry, I’ve already made plans for the property as of Nov 1. You cannot stay here past Oct 31. If you do, I will formally evict you, and sue your for any holdover damages, which will go on your record and make it difficult for you to rent anywhere else. I suggest that you find another place to stay after Oct 31

      Personally, I would not accept any more payment from her, otherwise, I would be entering into another monthly agreement, and the clock would start over.

      Just my two cents… keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer.

  • Suzie

    I rented a house with my mother and before we moved in I decided I did not want to live there. I have autistic kids and the more I thought about it the more I realized it was not a good idea to live on the river. We called and told the man about 20 days before we were going to move and asked for our $500.00 deposit back and he said no he was going to keep it because he had to take it out of the paper. I really need the money back because it is all I have. What do I do?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Suzie,

      If you’ve already signed the lease, then you should consider yourself lucky that the landlord isn’t holding you responsible for some of the rent too. This situation is common, and in almost every circumstance, the landlord is allowed to keep the deposit. After all, it is “security” against damages. The landlord clearly has damages if you back out of the contract – including but not limited to the cost to find a new tenant. This is why you provide a deposit in the first place.

      If you really need that money back, I suggest you contact a housing counselor, and get real legal advice (since I’m not a lawyer). I’m just a landlord, but I’ve never heard of a tenant rightfully being able to get their deposit back in this situation. You can contact the Tenant Resource Center: http://www.tenantresourcecenter.org/

  • Jewel

    I own a property in Milwaukee that is managed by someone for me as I am out of state. I have agreed to allow pets in the property only if the tenant signs a pet agreement, pays a pet deposit and pays a monthly pet fee per pet. This is all written in the lease. I was just informed by my property manager that he discovered the tenants had two large dogs. This was discovered after the tenants already gave notice as their lease was ending that month and they have since moved out. I know I can deduct damages for the additional cleaning that needs to be done because of the pets from their security deposit, but can I also fine them for violating the lease or bill them the amount they should have paid for having the pets in the home? Damages have not been assessed yet (as I am out of state) but I’m not sure there was ever a walk-through done before the tenants inhabited the home. If there wasn’t, how would this impact who is responsible for damages and would the property manager I’ve hired be responsible for this or would I?

    Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jewel,

      Personally, I would withhold the pet fees that they should have paid if they had been honest. They clearly can’t deny that they had dogs, so they really have no excuse.

      As for the damages, it will be tough for you to prove that they caused any damage because you don’t have a record of it’s condition prior to their tenancy. If push comes to shove, you have no way to prove that they caused the damage.

      Whoever is managing the house should have ensured that the move-in walk-through was performed, but in the end, the landlord is ultimately responsible. You might want to check your contract with the property manager to see if the move-in inspection was something they were responsible for.

      I hope that helps.

  • Nicole

    I live I wisconsin and my father is my cosigner for my apartment, does he have to be notified if I am past due for rent before they can proceed with any type of eviction threat?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Nicole

      It would be in the landlord’s best interest to notify the co-signer because they might have a easier chance at collecting the rent.

      The bottom like is that they can proceed with a 14 day notice to pay or vacate as soon as the rent is not paid in full on the due date. Then they can proceed with an eviction action in court if you don’t leave after the lease is terminated.

      Usually, notice to one tenant acts as notice to all tenants, including co-signers. Separate notice is not typically required under joint and several liability.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer not is this legal advice. This is just commonly how leases are handled.

  • William harrington

    I have a renter that is late on the water bill.The water company sent me the bill in my name and also asked me if i could let them in to disconnect service.Is this legal practice and do i let them in?I feel like its not my responsibility to do so.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi William,

      From one landlord to another. I do not recommend turing off the water. You are still responsible for ensuring a habitable unit, and without water, you would be breaking the contract – even if it was their fault by not paying the bill.

      In many counties, the owner is still responsible for water and sewer even if the account was in the tenant’s name. So much so that the water company can put a lien on the property. This is because water is an essential utility. There is a reason why they are asking you – because they don’t want the liability of turing it off. They are asking you to take on that risk – which is a bad thing for you.

      My non-legal suggestion would be to:
      1. Tell the water company to leave the water on.
      2. Contact the tenant and try to get him/her to pay the bill immediately.
      3. If the tenant does not cooperate, then pay the water bill out of your own pocket and withhold the cost from the tenant’s security deposit.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this as legal advice. Good luck, please let me know how it goes!

  • Bernie

    I am a renter that has a lease the landlord sold the property, does the lease transfer or terminate in the state of Wisconsin. There is nothing in the lease that states this situation. I have met the new owner and he stated the lease is void now that he is the new owner. I don’t know tenant, landlord laws and just want to know one way or another.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bernie,

      Generally speaking, a lease will continue even if property ownership changes. Your lease is rent a property, not a landlord. As long as the property is standing and habitable, you have the right to occupy it.

      Unless your lease had a special provision in it that allows for lease termination, the new owner will simply become your new landlord, no matter what says. It’s a contract that he’s purchased with the sale of the home.

      If he pushes back, talk to a lawyer immediately.

      Keep in mind, I’m NOT a lawyer, and this advice is NOT legal advice. I also suggest calling your local housing authority or talking to a local lawyer to ensure that there isn’t a local law that gives the new owner this right. My assumption is that the new owner is making it up.

  • Jenny North

    Hi , we just served our tenant a 30 day notice to vacate the property . She is on a month to month lease and she signed the vacancy notice . I know that being in Wisconsi , we do not have to give a reason to vacate . She signed the paperwork , but since the signing , she is turning every light on in our house , leaving dishes , which in her lease agreement states she must clean and put things away in the proper place . This is the beginning of diasters I am seeing . She keeps trying to tempt our one cat to her room , and stated she has bonded with her . Our other two cats she has no interest in . Yesterday she locked the cat in her bedroom and turned her radio on on the loud side , I think she was hoping that my husband or I wouldn’t hear the cat scraching , so my husband let the cat out . We do have permission to enter her room if the cats get into her room which is stated in the month to month lease . We are fearful that she is going to try to take the cat when she vacates the property . She is up all night , prowling around the house , she is skping our home to her friends which I caught her doing , she has made extra keys and did not ask or tell us . We are afraid to leave our house because of her demeanor at this point . My question to you is , can we evict her sooner then November 30 th 2014 due to some of these situactions ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jenny

      A landlord can terminate a month-to-month lease with 14 days notice if the tenant is in violation of agreement (Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.17(1b)) (PDF Guide).

      However, *I think* the tenant has an opportunity to fix the issue within those 14 days to avoid lease termination.

      Further, if she commits a crime, or steals something, including your cat, call the police immediately.

      If she fails to remedy the violation, then you can terminate the lease. If she fails to leave at the time the lease is terminated, you must file an eviction action in court. You can’t just change the locks on her.

      Please keep in mind, I am NOT a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord, trying to help. If you continue to have trouble with the tenant after the lease is terminated, I suggest consulting an attorney.

    • Jenny North

      Hi Lucas ,

      I just wanted to Thank You for answering my concerns so quickly . I guess I’m just hoping that she will be gone on November 30th . As far as the tenant not cleaning up after herself etc. it is going to be my word against hers . I just can’t wait for her to leave and will never do this again . As people are reading this forum , please make sure you do your homework and really consider who you choose as a tenant , as my husband and I are going thru now . Thank you again Lucas , you were very helpful and informative .

  • Alex

    Hi there!

    I read ATCP 134, and believe the following applies to my case. Due to a new job, I notified the agency that I would be moving out at the end of August (one month prior to the end of the lease). I received confirmation on this and had the place clean and ready for inspection by August 31, 2014. I even turned in my keys. Due to being able to claim this as a work expense, I asked for documentation that my moving out was PRIOR to my lease being fulfilled. I received notification back stating : Your lease is set to expire on Sept 30, your $500 security deposit will be processed as soon as the lease expires, or when a new tenant movies in, which ever occurs first. I am thinking this violates ATCP 134, and I can sue for 3x my security deposit ($1500). Am I thinking correctly?

    Thank you,

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Alex,

      It’s tough to say. The landlord has 21 days from when you surrender – but the definition of surrender is very specific.

      Does this clarify it for you?
      http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/admin_code/atcp/090/134/06/2/b/1

      If the tenant vacates before the last day of tenancy provided under the rental agreement, and gives the landlord written notice that the tenant has vacated, surrender occurs when the landlord receives the written notice that the tenant has vacated. If the tenant mails the notice to the landlord, the landlord is deemed to receive the notice on the second day after mailing.

      Further, just a word of advice, if you terminated your lease early, and didn’t have to pay for Sept’s rent, I wouldn’t press your luck.

      • Alex

        Thank you for that. I hand delivered the notice to terminate early, and it was accepted by the office personnel. I, of course, have a copy of that document. Also in the notice provided to me by the Property Manager, it states that “your move out inspection was done on 8/29/2014.” I have a copy of the cancelled check showing that I did pay September rent and have an account statement showing that September was paid on 9/2/2014 and the check number it was paid by.

        Does this help clarify?

        • Lucas Hall

          That does help, and it sounds like they were very aware.

          So, now the question is: how far do you want to take it?

          Unless they are voluntarily going to give you some extra money, you’ll have to take them to court. Even if you do, there is not guarantee that the judge will issue you 3x the amount, especially when you were the one terminating the lease early. A judge is allow to … well… judge the situation and award fair compensation for damages. If you don’t actually have any damages (other than being held to your lease for Sept), then how do you think that will look to a Judge?

          It might be worth a shot, but you should talk to a lawyer to decide if you are wasting your time. Good luck.

  • Jenny North

    Hi Lucas ,

    I have more questions for you since you replied to me a few days ago . We gave the tenant her notice to vacate on November 30th , 14 . She is on a month to month and we are not renewing the lease . We are in Wisconsin . Since I had asked you a few things a few days ago , the tenant is giving us a attitude in general , We can handle that , but in our lease since she is living in our home , I mentioned that she has taken a likeing to our one cat . I have ta;led to the police deptment and they told us to call and they would come if needed . I am not going to have them come over , but on the day she leaves , I am going to have them here. She was given a key to come and go and now I have found 6 keys laying around , and it can only be her , forgeting to pick them up and putting them away . Is she in violation of her lease ? she is to keep things clean and put away in proper areas ( stated in the lease ) she is not doing this either . The bathroom is disgusting , my remote to living room suddenly disappeared , She works second shift and comes in turning on every light she can , no consideration for my husband or myself . I am fearful of her and my husband is a nervous wreck . He is 63 yrs. and has a heart condition , she is aware of this . Is there anyway to get her out of our home sooner ? I know that you are not a lawyer , but any advice from you is helpful .

    • Jenny North

      Hi Lucas ,
      don’t want to appear to be a pest butmy situaction is exalating very quickly . The month to month agreement with the tenant is increasing to a point of no return . We live in Wisconsin and now the tenant is leaving today 11-3-14 . She has not paid her rent and said she won’t because she is leaving early . The lease states on or before but no later then November 30 ,14 . She stated she wants her security deposit and I told her we have within (21) days to inspect the room and common areas and to give us a forwarding address to send back either a full amount or whatever we may find on damages . She has not done so yet. She keeps stating to my husband and I how inconvient this has affected her . I stated to her , she is on a month to month lease and we do not have to renew the lease . As I stated , she has found another place to live and she told us that she needs her money . I want to know if she can get away with out paying this months rent and can we keep her Security deposit due to the situation . I mentioned to you in an earlier post that she has made several keys to our back door without permission and is denying it , skyping our room to friends or relatives , the cat she bonded with , now we have to lock our cat up in fear that she is going to try to take her , I am going to have a police officer here today as she is moving out , no trust by far , sorry to say . But back to my main question to you , can she get away without paying this months rent because she chooses to leave early and can we keep the security deposit because she is doing this ? Again , I know you are not an attorney and can’t give legal advice , but please try your best to help us . Thank You again .

      • Lucas Hall

        Hi Jenny,

        Sorry for the delay.

        That sounds like GREAT news that the tenant is leaving (or has already left by now).

        You can absolutely use her security deposit to cover the missing rent. That’s exactly what I would do in your situation. It doesn’t really matter when she vacates, but rather when her lease if up. In your case, her lease is over on Nov 30, therefore she is responsible for rent until that day – even if she moved out on Nov. 3rd.

        Further, if there are damages beyond normal wear and tear, and you don’t have enough deposit to cover the missing rent and the damages, you *could* sue her in small claims for the damages, however it probably wouldn’t be worth your time.

        If I were in your shoes, I would let her move out, then I would reclaim possession of the unit and change all the exterior locks in the house. Therefore, it wouldn’t matter how many spare keys she’s made. Then, within 21 days, send her an itemized list of deductions, and any remaining deposit. If you are withholding her entire deposit to cover the Nov Rent, then you need to itemize that in a formal letter.

        She probably won’t like it because she moved out early, but her move-out date is irrelevant in the matter.

  • Shayna

    Hello,

    My mom and step-dad have been renting a house from my step-dad’s nephew for the last 5 years or so – located in rural WI. They did not write up a formal lease as a family member was renting the property. On 11/4/14, the nephew told my parents that he is going to rent the house to his daughter and she wants to move in by 1/1/15 so my parents have to move out. My mom thought there was something that prevented him from evicting them between November and April, but I saw your comments on that above. Even without a formal lease, what is the required notice that my parents have to be provided with? Can the landlord legally shut off utilities during the winter if everything has been and continues to be paid on time? I appreciate any info you might have on this.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Shayne,

      I did a quick google search and found this from the Wisconsin Bar: http://www.wisbar.org/forpublic/ineedinformation/pages/landlord-tenant.aspx

      Can a landlord evict a tenant in winter?
      Yes. The time of year has no legal effect on eviction. But some circumstances may affect eviction proceedings. For instance, special requirements may apply to tenants of federally subsidized housing and housing for the elderly.

      Further, if there is no lease, then it is usually treated as a month-to-month. Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 704.19(3) says that 28 days notice is needed to terminate the lease. Clearly, the nephew has provided more than 28 days.

      http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/704/19/3

      A landlord is never allowed to shut off essential utilities while a tenant is still living there, however, he is under no obligation to accept rent after 1/1/15.

      I hope that helps. Please keep in mind, I am NOT a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord, trying to help.

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