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Garrett Miller

If you’re confronted with the possibility of an eviction, either as a landlord or a tenant in Wisconsin, you need to understand the legal steps and obligations involved in the process. This guide offers a step-by-step overview, providing clarity on necessary notices, court proceedings, and the roles of each party involved.

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 of 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 utility 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.

Types of Eviction Notices

There are different types of eviction notices that can be issued in Wisconsin, including a five-day notice for non-payment of rent and another one for other violations unrelated to rent. A 14-day notice may also be given if there is a second lease violation. In the event that a tenant has a month-to-month lease agreement, they must receive at least 28 days’ written notice before their tenancy will end without any legal justification.

Essentially, landlords have specific procedures they must follow when issuing an eviction notice in this state. These include providing tenants with proper notification according to the type of violation or situation involved - whether it’s related specifically to failure on their part regarding timely rental payments or not meeting standards set forth by the terms outlined within their current leasing contract arrangement.

Serving the Eviction Notice

The effective execution of eviction notices is crucial in the Wisconsin eviction process. Landlords have two options for delivering these notices: certified mail or hand delivery to either the tenant or a family member. To ensure proper documentation, landlords must complete an Affidavit of Service and submit the original copy to the court.

Responding to an Eviction Notice

Receiving an eviction notice can be a daunting experience for tenants in Wisconsin. It is important to know that there are options available when facing this situation related to paying rent. These include settling the overdue amount, vacating the property, or challenging the eviction through legal proceedings.

If a tenant chooses to contest their eviction, they must submit a formal response (referred to as an answer) with the court outlining any defenses they may have against being evicted from their rental unit due to unpaid rent.

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.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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