Landlord and Tenant Rights in Wisconsin for Serving an Eviction Notice

By Aubrey Warshaw
Wisconsin landlords can only evict a tenant by a court order.

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In Wisconsin, a tenant can be evicted for failure to pay rent within the specified time period. An agreement between a landlord and his tenant is regulated by the Wisconsin Landlord-Tenant Law. Because there are defined landlord and tenant rights for serving an eviction notice in Wisconsin, it is important for both parties to understand their rights along with their options for courses of action should there be an eviction.

Landlord's Right to Evict

Wisconsin laws enable the landlord the right to begin eviction proceedings within five days after a tenant violates lease terms. Non-payment of rent isn't the only reason for eviction. Landlords in Wisconsin can also begin the eviction proceedings in response to criminal activity, nuisance, damage to the property or failure to maintain the property.

Tenant's Right to Receive Notice

Wisconsin tenant rights allow a tenant a grace period of five days after the tenant violates lease terms. If the tenant decides to stay without fixing the problem, it could escalate to small claims court. However, if a tenant receives a five-day notice and resolves the situation within the time limit, then he has the right to remain in the apartment and the landlord cannot begin the eviction proceedings against him. Instead of giving the tenant a five-day notice, the landlord can give him notice to leave within 14 days. This 14-day notice must be in writing and forces the tenant to leave even if he resolves the situation. The landlord should deliver the notice to the tenant, or to a member of the tenant's family who is at least 14 years of age. The landlord can also mail a copy of the notice to the tenant's last address by certified mail.

Tenant's Right to Stay

A tenant has a right to stay if he believes the landlord has no legal reason for eviction notice. The landlord will have to pay a trial filing fee and prove the tenant violated the lease and that a written notice was given. If the tenant stays and the landlord files an eviction summons, it could potentially lead to negative consequences. Because a summons is a public record, future landlords might turn down the tenant even for a dismissed eviction.

Tenant's Rights -- Illegal Actions of Landlord

Wisconsin law protects tenants against illegal evictions by landlords. Tenant rights prevent the landlord from changing a tenant's lock, removing their possessions and shutting off their utilities. Any illegal action could result in a fine or lawsuit against the landlord. If illegal actions occur, tenants should call their sheriff's office, Consumer Protection at 800-422-7128 or consult with a private attorney. In the event of any illegal action, the tenant has the right to stay despite having breached the terms of the lease by non-payment of rent, criminal activity, nuisance, damage to the property or failure to maintain the yard.

Rights Regarding Court Orders

Wisconsin landlords can only evict a tenant by a court order. The landlord must pay a filing fee and file at the county court. The tenant must receive the summons at least five days before the initial court hearing. If the tenant doesn't appear in court on that day, he will be evicted. If the tenant goes to trial and loses in Wisconsin, the judge will issue a written order called a writ of restitution. The sheriff will come to evict the tenant within 10 days after receiving the writ from the landlord. Usually, the sheriff will post a 24-hour notice before evicting the tenant from the premises. The sheriff is the only person who can evict a tenant. If the sheriff evicts a tenant, his possessions will be moved to a storage facility and the tenant will have to pay the moving and storage costs to retrieve the items.

Landlord's Right to Post-eviction Compensation

Once evicted, the Wisconsin landlord has the right to determine how much money is owed by the tenant at a rent and damages hearing. The tenant receives notice of this hearing and a hearing examiner will determine how much the tenant owes the landlord.

About the Author

Aubrey Warshaw has experience working in federal, state and local levels of government. He has a Master of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Warshaw's written work includes policy briefs for a 9-12 institution, letters to constituents and various reports involving policy issues such as education and poverty.

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