New Landlord-Tenant Laws

The Wisconsin legislature passed a bill and was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker last month which will have significant changes to the landlord-tenant law in Wisconsin. The new laws became effective on April 1, 2012. This article will provide a brief overview of a few significant changes.

The new law allows for the severibility of rental agreement provisions, such that any unenforceable or void provisions may be removed and the remaining provisions of the rental agreement may be enforced. However, there are about eight provisions that can not be included in the rental agreement, and if they are, the entire rental agreement will be void and unenforceable against the tenant.

It will now be easier for a landlord to dispose of a tenant’s abandoned property. Prior law required a landlord to hold the tenant’s property for 30 days after providing a tenant written notice. Under the new law, the landlord can dispose of the tenant’s property immediately provided that the landlord has provided the tenant with this notice in the rental agreement. There are some exceptions to this including prescription medicine and some vehicles.

In certain circumstances, the landlord will be required to disclose all known housing code violations to the tenant prior to entering into a rental agreement. In addition, in most cases, a landlord must provide a tenant with a standardized information sheet which contains an itemized condition of the property at the time the tenant takes occupancy.

Some other notable changes include: a landlord’s entitlement to receive holdover damages after the tenancy terminates and the tenant has not vacated; new requirements for withholding from a tenant’s security deposit and the timing of the return of the security deposit; and the ability to accept past due rent by a landlord and still maintain an eviction action.

Violations of the new laws may constitute a violation of the unfair trade practices act. This is a very complicated area of law. If you are a landlord or tenant and need legal assistance or a review of your rental agreements, contact attorney Greg Babcock of our office for a consultation.

In the Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin areas, the Wanezek & Jaekels law firm is ready to assist you.  Contact us today!

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