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In this guide, we will walk though the eviction process, keeping in mind current COVID considerations.  If at any time you feel overwhelmed or you would like more information, please contact our experienced Wisconsin eviction attorneys. In this article we will answer the following questions: When can a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?, When can’t a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?, Does criminal activity qualify someone for eviction in Wisconsin?, How much notice is required when evicting someone in Wisconsin?, How long does it take to evict a tenant in Wisconsin?, Can a tenant be evicted during COVID?, and When can a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?

When it comes to eviction, Wisconsin balances the rights of the landlord, with the rights and needs of the tenant.  If you have been sent an eviction notice, or you need to begin the eviction of a tenant in Wisconsin, understanding this process and what your rights are is the first place to start.  In this guide, we will walk though the eviction process, keeping in mind current COVID considerations.  If at any time you feel overwhelmed or you would like more information, please contact our experienced Wisconsin eviction attorneys. In this article we will answer the following questions:

  • When can a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?
  • When can’t a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?
  • Does criminal activity qualify someone for eviction in Wisconsin?
  • How much notice is required when evicting someone in Wisconsin?
  • How long does it take to evict a tenant in Wisconsin?
  • Can a tenant be evicted during COVID?
  • When can a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the question of when a landlord can begin the eviction process against a tenant comes down primarily to the type of lease agreed upon by the parties.  In an at will, month to month tenancy, or a tenancy without a lease, a landlord is within their rights to terminate the relationship and have the renter leave the property without cause.  Note however, that Wisconsin law requires leases that extend 1 year or longer to be in writing, and certain types of evictions are always illegal.  Eviction is a more complicated manner when there is a lease at play, as the tenant has rights to the property for a defined period of time.

When there is a lease with a defined time period, eviction requires a proper justification in Wisconsin.  The most common legal justification is failure to pay rent, but this is not the only situation eviction is appropriate.  Partial rent payment, and late rent payment, are both valid reasons to serve a tenant an eviction notice.  If the tenant has willfully broken the terms of the lease, this would also provide the landlord with the opportunity to serve notice.  Additionally, if the unit has been declared a nuisance under Wisconsin statute this would be another valid reason to start eviction proceedings.

When can’t a landlord lawfully begin eviction proceedings in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has strict rules on when eviction proceedings, or the threat of eviction proceedings, is inappropriate.  Note that these rules should be observed as closely as possible, as violations could expose the landlord to penalties including fines, and potential criminal misdemeanor legal charges should a district attorney feel the violation was sufficiently serious.  Retaliatory eviction is not allowed under Wisconsin law, and includes bringing an eviction action in retaliation for the following causes: a tenant reporting a violation of Wisconsin statute or building or housing codes, a tenant complaint regarding a failure on the part the landlord to execute their duties under Wisconsin statute or building or housing codes, a tenant complaint regarding a violation of local housing codes, and an attempt by the tenant to assert their legal rights as tenant.  Note that an increase in rent, a decrease in utilities services, or a refusal to renew a lease, if they are done so in retaliation for the above listed reasons, all qualify as retaliatory eviction.  It is also important to keep in mind a landlord never has a right to personally evict someone, and most follow the legal eviction process in Wisconsin, gaining a judgment in court, and then having this enforced by law enforcement if necessary.

Does criminal activity qualify someone for eviction in Wisconsin?

Yes, under Wisconsin law criminal behavior that threatens the health and safety of the other tenants or the landlord and their agents, by a tenant, or their guest, does serve as legal justification for their landlord to begin eviction proceedings against them.  A landlord may serve their tenant an eviction notice without an option to stay, however the notice must include the following information: the criminal basis on which they are being served the notice, a description of the criminal activity including who was involved, notice that the tenant may seek legal advice, and notice the tenant may contest the allegation before a court.  Note that drug related activity does meet this standard, and would qualify the tenant for eviction.

How much notice is required when evicting someone in Wisconsin?

It depends on the type of lease arrangement and the reason for eviction.  Tenants with longer leases are provided more time and protection under Wisconsin law.  If there is no lease, and the rent is on a month-to-month basis, for a no cause termination of the existing relationship the landlord must serve the tenant a 28-day notice the arrangement is coming to an end.  If a month-to-month tenant fails to pay rent, or breaks the terms of the lease, the landlord may serve the tenant a 14-day eviction notice without an option to pay rent.  For tenants on a lease of 1 year or less, who fail to pay rent or otherwise break the terms of their lease, the landlord must provide the tenant a notice allowing 5 days to rectify the situation.  If the tenant fails to do so in that time period, the landlord may begin the eviction process in court.  If the tenant rectifies the situation after notice, but then breaches the lease again in a year period, the landlord may serve them with a 14-day notice without any option to rectify their breach and stay.  Tenants with a lease for more than one year, who have failed to pay the rent or otherwise breached their lease, must be provided a 30-day notice allowing them that time to rectify the situation. Note there is no legal 3-day notice of conviction, any service of a such a notice would not be proper, and the subsequent legal proceeding could be thrown out for lack of proper service.

How long does it take to evict a tenant in Wisconsin?

After the requisite notice period, the landlord may begin the eviction process. This includes a court proceeding, in which the landlord must present their reason for eviction, and the tenant is allowed to present any legal defenses they may have to eviction.  If the court find in favor of the landlord, and the tenant refuses to comply and vacate the property, law enforcement must be relied upon to enforce the decision.  This process can take anywhere from a couple months to closer to half a year.

Can a tenant be evicted during COVID?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention began a moratorium on certain types of evictions on September 4, 2020, that will extend until June 30, 2021, with the goal of hampering the spread of the COVID 19 virus.  This moratorium only applies to tenants that meet the CDC’s guidelines.  This generally means tenants who are facing hardship due to the COVID pandemic, and would otherwise be homeless, or moving into a shared housing situation, in the event of eviction.  The ban on evictions only extends to those that have been commenced for failure to pay rent.  Tenants who engage in criminal behavior or damage their rental property can still be lawfully evicted.

Request a consultation with a Wisconsin eviction lawyer.

If you have been served with an eviction notice, or believe eviction proceedings against your tenant may be appropriate, knowing your rights is critical.  Working with a qualified Wisconsin eviction attorney can make the difference. Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced eviction lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

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