Recent Changes in Wisconsin’s Law
  1. Two new laws – – Acts 108 and 143
  2. Act 108 became effective Dec. 2, 2011
    1. Prohibits cities, villages, towns and counties from enacting ordinances that place limitations of a residential landlord from obtaining or using the following information:(i) Monthly household income
      (ii) Occupation
      (iii) Rental History
      (iv) Credit Information
      (v) Court records, including arrest and conviction records, to which there is public access
      (vi) Social security number or other proof of identity
    2. Remove limits on how far back in time a landlord can review the tenant’s credit information, conviction record or previous housing
    3. Allows a landlord to show the premises to a prospective tenant anytime during the lease
    4. Prohibits requirements on security or earnest money deposits or pre or post tenancy inspections that are additional to administrative rules on residential rental practices
    5. Prohibits requirements on security or earnest money deposits or                                                 pre or post tenancy inspections that are additional to administrative                                     rules on residential rental practices
  3. Act 143 became effective March 31, 2012
    1. Allows a landlord to dispose of abandoned property at the landlord’s discretion, except if a landlord does not intend to store personal property left behind by a tenant, the landlord must provide written notice of that intent at the time of entering into, or renewing, the rental agreement. Prescriptions and medical equipment must be kept for seven days. Notice must be provided to the tenant and a known secured party for an abandoned manufactured home, mobile home, and titled vehicle before disposing of that property.
    2.  Allows a landlord to withhold amounts from a security deposit that are reasonably necessary to pay for damages to the property, and for unpaid rent or utilities. A landlord is prohibited from withholding any amount from a security deposit for normal wear and tear, or other damages or losses for which the tenant cannot reasonably be held responsible.
    3. Requires a landlord to return a security deposit to a tenant within 21 days: after a tenant has vacated the premises on the rental agreement’s termination date; after the landlord learns that the tenant has vacated if after the termination date; after eviction; or, if a tenant has vacated the premises before the termination date, after the rental agreement’s termination date or after a new tenant’s occupancy if that begins before the first tenant’s termination date.
    4. Requires a landlord to provide disclosure prior to the signing of a rental agreement any uncorrected building code or housing code violations if the landlord has actual knowledge of the violation.
    5. Requires a landlord to provide at the time of occupancy a standardized check-in sheet for the condition of the premises, to be completed and returned by the tenant within seven days. A check-in sheet is not required for rental of a plot of land that is used for a manufactured home or a mobile home.
    6. Specifies that certain prohibited provisions, of a residential rental agreement render the entire rental agreement void and unenforceable. Also, if any particular provision of a rental agreement is found to be void or unenforceable by a court, or is rendered void or unenforceable by reason of a statute or administrative regulation, the provision is severable from other provisions of the rental agreement that are not affected and that remain valid and enforceable.
    7. Specifies that damages awarded to a landlord for a tenant who continues to occupy the premises after eviction or beyond the termination date of the rental agreement are mandatory, rather than discretionary.
    8. Specifies that acceptance of any amount of past due rent by a landlord cannot be the sole basis for dismissal of an eviction action for failure to pay rent.
    9. Specifies that any violation of the statutory chapter on landlords and tenants, including the provisions of the Act, may also constitute unfair methods of competition or unfair trade practices that are enforceable by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and by an individual right of action that allows recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees and twice the amount of any pecuniary loss. Regulations by DATCP cannot change any of the rights or duties arising under the statutory chapter on landlords and tenants.