Before you rent
Return of deposit
Before You Rent
It is customary for landlords to check the background of prospective renters. It is equally important for tenants to check out the landlord. If you only check one resource, it should be the current renters. Many renters will be willing to talk with you for a few minutes.
Your landlord should give you a check-in form; if not, make your own or get one from the Tenant Resource Center. Landlords must allow tenants at least seven days to fill out a check-in form. Make a copy of the completed check-in form for yourself and give the original to your landlord. When filling out the check-in form, be thorough. The landlord cannot charge you for any existing damages that you include on the check-in form. If you have a camera or a camcorder, document the condition of the apartment, especially damaged areas. Give one set of photos to your landlord after moving in and keep a second set for yourself.
All promises to repair that the landlord makes before entering into a rental agreement must be in writing. A completion date for the repair must also be given to the renter.
Good communication is important in a tenant/landlord relationship. A landlord is likely to be more receptive to hearing about problems if you are reasonable in your expectations and attitude toward the situation.
Withholding rent is extremely risky, even if the repair problems are severe! Keep in mind that any withholding can subject you to the risk of eviction, no matter why the rent is withheld.
An eviction happens when a landlord believes that a tenant has seriously violated the lease and wants the tenant to fix the problem or leave the apartment. Only a Judge can evict a tenant. The sheriff MUST be present for the removal of the tenant from the apartment. A notice must be in writing and include the date, the lease clause (rule or requirement) that the tenant violated, the type of notice (5 or 14 day), and the right to cure (fix) the problem, if there is one.
Try to schedule a check-out appointment with your landlord. If your landlord agrees to do this, make sure you leave with a signed copy of the check-out form. If the landlord notes things are dirty or damaged, offer to clean or fix them.
If your landlord refuses to go through the apartment with you, complete your own check-out form and take pictures documenting the condition of the apartment. Consider having the same witness who was present for check-in help with the check-out.
If your landlord presents you with a check-out form that indicates damages that you or your guests did not cause, do not sign it. Instead, complete your own check-out form and keep a copy. You should also take pictures to prove the condition of the apartment.
Return of Deposit
If the landlord does not return the full deposit or a detailed list of deductions within 21 days after you move out, you can sue the landlord for double the amount of the deposit plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees (Wis. Stat. 100.20(2)).
It is illegal to deduct for routine carpet cleaning from the security deposit-even if you signed a lease that states that you must pay for carpet cleaning. The exception is if you damaged the carpet beyond "normal wear and tear." If your landlord deducted money from your security deposit for routine carpet cleaning, inform your landlord in writing that it is illegal. If your deposit is not returned, file a complaint with Consumer Protection by calling (608) 244-4953 in the Madison area, 1-800-422-7128 statewide or online at http://www.datcp.state.wi.us/cp/consumerinfo/cp/complaint-form/cp_complaint_form.jsp Be aware that the landlord may still pursue this in small claims court.
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
www.datcp.state.wi.us or call (800) 422-7128
The Wisconsin Department Agriculture, Trade and consumer Protection provides information on common issues of a landlord/tenant relationship. Landlord-tenant relations in Wisconsin are regulated by Chapter 704, Wisconsin Statutes, and by Chapter ATCP 134, Wisconsin Administrative Code. In addition, Chapter ATCP 125, Wisconsin Administrative Code, further regulates mobile home park operator-tenant relations.
To find these regulations on the DATCP website click "consumer protection" at the top of the page then under "Top Complaints" click on "Tenants Rights and Responsibilities". This page provides information on common issues. For state statues scroll down to near the bottom under "If a problem develops". Click on chapter 704
- The Tenant Resource Center (TRC)
www.tenantresourcecenter.org or call (877) 238-RENT (7368) Hours: 10 AM - 4 PM, M-F
The Tenant Resource Center offers free counseling for tenants and landlords that are interested in learning about their rental rights and responsibilities. Information on state and local rental laws and regulations are provided. TRC can also refer clients to other agencies to assist them with their needs.
- UW-L Attorney; Student Life Office (available to UW-L students)
http://www.uwlax.edu/current_students/legal_policies.aspx Call (608) 785-8062 Hours 7:45AM - 4:30 PM M-F
UW-L provides a free 15-minute appointment for UWL students and employees with an attorney to advise in landlord/tenant disputes.
- Independent Living Resources - Housing Resource Center
www.ilresources.org Call (608) 787-1111 Hours 8:30 AM-5 PM M-F
The Housing Resource Center through Independent Living Resources offers individuals with disabilities information on current fair housing laws, accessibility issues and information on funding for accessibility.
- Legal Action Of Wisconsin
http://www.legalaction.org Call (608) 785-2809 Hours 8AM - 5PM M-F Telephone screening for services on Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 AM -11:30 AM
Legal Action of Wisconsin provides advice and representation in civil cases including housing and landlord/tenant issues.
- Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations http://www.legis.state.wi.us/rsb/Statutes.html
- Wisconsin Administrative Code: Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
- Chapter 134: Residential Rental Practices
- Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (CCAP)
Look up eviction & other court records. Evictions are Small Claims actions and have "SC" after the year in the case number, e.g. 2003SC016673.
- State Bar of Wisconsin www.wisbar.org