(Yet Another) Update to Wisconsin’s Landlord-Tenant Laws

(Yet Another) Update to Wisconsin’s Landlord-Tenant Laws

There have been numerous changes to Wisconsin’s landlord-tenant laws over the past several years, many of which have been welcomed by landlords. Another set of changes, found in 2017 Wisconsin Act 317 went into effect yesterday. The Act provides further practical directives for the handling of certain issues that frequently come up in landlord-tenant relationships and disputes. This article will summarize a couple of the most important changes.

ASSISTANCE ANIMALS

There are now two different standards concerning assistance animals. One covers “animals that do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities” – and requires landlords to allow tenants to keep the animal if the tenant provides reliable documentation that the tenant has a disability AND reliable documentation of the disability-related need for the animal. The other provision covers “an animal that provides emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship to an individual but is not trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a disabled person” – and has an added requirement that the tenant provide the landlord with reliable documentation of the disability-related need for the animal from a licensed health care professional. These standards apply unless the disability and the disability-related need for the animal are apparent or known.

ABILITY TO CHARGE FOR LANDLORD’S TIME

When a landlord repairs damage to their property caused by a tenant, Wisconsin’s landlord-tenant law now specifically allows a landlord to collect from the tenant reasonable amounts for his or her labor and a reasonable hourly rate for purchasing or providing materials, supervising his or her an agent, and hiring a third-party contractor.

NOTICES FOR FAILURE TO PAY RENT

There is now also further clarity to Wisconsin Statutes Section 704.17 concerning past due rent notices. The definition of “rent” now specifically includes late fees owed for any rent that is past due, in addition to the actual past due rent. Additionally, any notice given by a property owner, which accidentally states an incorrect amount due, is still valid – unless the tenant tendered payment of the amount that the tenant believes to be due.

There are many other changes provided by 2017 Wisconsin Act 317, including changes to rules concerning rent abatement, credit and background checks, electronic delivery of certain information, and Emergency Assistance stays, among other things. Therefore, we recommend that landlords review and become familiar with the entire law.

If you are a property owner with further questions about this change in the law, or other questions about landlords’ rights, please contact us at McCarty Law  to assist with your needs.

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Kristy A. Christensen

Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Kristy handles commercial litigation matters of every type, with an emphasis on construction matters and real estate matters. She also specializes in intellectual property and immigration law.