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Kevin O'Flaherty

Wisconsin HOA Laws

If you want to understand Wisconsin HOA laws, you're in the right spot. This guide covers all the critical statutes like the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act and the Nonstock Corporations Act. Understanding these laws will help you learn more about your community's rules and responsibilities as a homeowner or a board member.

Key Takeaways

  • Wisconsin HOA governance is governed by the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act and the Nonstock Corporations Act so you can manage and operate your community effectively.
  • Board members and management companies are critical to the governance and day-to-day operations of HOAs, ensuring bylaws and state laws are followed, financial transparency is maintained, and community standards are maintained.
  • Wisconsin HOAs must follow fair housing and anti-discrimination laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Wisconsin Open Housing Law to create an inclusive and equitable living environment for all residents.


Imagine a community where everything is harmonious, pools are sparkling, lawns are manicured, and neighbors are friendly. That's what Homeowners Associations (HOAs) aim to create in common-interest communities that include condos and gated neighborhoods.

In the state of Wisconsin, specific HOA laws govern these common areas to ensure smooth operation by overseeing public spaces and streets. This benefits all residents. Understanding how these governing laws affect homeowner associations is important because it affects the daily lives of community members.

Wisconsin HOA Laws

Condominium unit owners in Wisconsin are subject to a body of laws that provide a legal framework for managing and governance homeowner associations throughout the state. No single statute governs these entities, but the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act does. Act alongside the nonstock corporation's laws to ensure everything runs smoothly in these residential communities. Whether you're a condo unit owner or a board member, knowing this law is essential to do your job and protect your rights in the association.

These laws must be followed to create peaceful and orderly living environments in all associations, from condo owners' groups to broader homeowners associations in Wisconsin. These laws are the foundation for administration so that community interests are served fairly among all residents involved in a condominium or similar homeowner-led organization statewide.

Wisconsin Statutes Affecting HOAs

In Wisconsin, homeowner associations are governed by the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act and the Nonstock Corporations Act. These key laws cover everything from member rights to corporate structure, so HOAs, condos, and homeowners associations in Wisconsin can operate effectively and within boundaries.

Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act

Chapter 703 of the Wisconsin state statutes is the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act, which governs all aspects of condominium creation, operation, and management. This law outlines how condominium associations should operate and the rights and responsibilities of unit ownership in a condo.

Owners must follow the statutory requirements in this chapter to ensure their converted condos comply with Wisconsin law. This includes tasks like recording declarations to form an association and familiarizing themselves with the important documents—called condominium instruments—that guide them in owning a unit in these properties.

Nonstock Corporations Act

Chapter 181 of the Wisconsin Statutes is the Nonstock Corporations Act, which provides the corporate structure for most homeowner associations in Wisconsin. This chapter covers procedural and management aspects of these nonstock entities.

This law ensures that all homeowner associations' actions comply with state law, protect member interests, and promote community well-being in Wisconsin.

HOA Governance and Management

In common-interest communities, the governance and administration of HOAs are key to their success. Board members and management companies share the responsibility of directing the association toward growth and fulfillment in the community. They are the stewards of the association, making sure every decision on financial management or rule enforcement not only complies with the law but also reflects the community's goals.

HOA Board Members

In Wisconsin, HOA board members are elected stewards of their community. They make policies, enforce rules, and manage community finances. They take on titles like President, Vice President, and Secretary. Each office has specific responsibilities to keep the association running smoothly.

Their decisions are guided by the bylaws of their association and state law. Those decisions affect unit owners' daily lives and direct their community's path—in turn, every unit owner's experience.

HOA Management Companies

Companies that manage HOAs are the executive branch that performs the day-to-day tasks to keep the community running. These tasks include collections and maintenance, and these companies implement the policies set by the board and the rules of the association.

They are the ones who bring the community's collective goals to life and ensure the board's decisions are implemented.

Wisconsin HOA

Fair Housing and Anti-Discrimination Laws

Living in a community, homeowner associations must follow the basic principles of fair housing and anti-discrimination laws. In Wisconsin, HOAs must comply with federal and state laws that require every process and rule to be fair and equal.

The laws, from the National Fair Housing Act to local laws like the Wisconsin Open Housing Law, are safeguards against discrimination and promote inclusivity among homeowner associations.

Fair Housing Act

Fair Housing Act compliance is part of ethical community governance. Homeowners' associations (HOAs) in Wisconsin must ensure their practices do not discriminate against individuals based on protected characteristics, including race, religion, national origin, or family status. Following these federal laws is a legal and moral obligation to build communities that honor and celebrate diversity.

Public Accommodations and Non-Discrimination

Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in Wisconsin must follow non-discrimination under Section 106.52 of the Wisconsin Statutes in public spaces that are not private homes. This law prohibits discriminatory practices in any public accommodations managed by HOAs. It ensures community members have equal access and enjoyment without discrimination. The law proves Wisconsin's commitment to building inclusive and fair communities for all.

Financial Management in Wisconsin HOAs

In Wisconsin, an HOA's financial health reflects its leadership. Governing an organization like this requires a financial process governed by specific laws and emphasizing transparency and accountability. HOA board members must create a budget and manage assessments with precision, making sure every penny counts and keeping the association financially strong.

Regular and Special Assessments

Regular assessments and special assessments are the sources of funding for Homeowners Associations (HOAs) for all expenses, from daily maintenance to sudden repair work. Regular assessments cover recurring costs, and special assessments cover unexpected expenses after a majority vote of the homeowners.

The community relies on these funds to maintain its infrastructure and look good.

Budgeting and Financial Transparency

Financial transparency is critical to building trust in an HOA. In Wisconsin, it's the law that annual budgets must be detailed and made available to members, who can review fund disbursements and see how their association is doing financially. The Treasurer is responsible for this process, managing the funds and making sure financial reports reflect the budget.

This transparency in finances makes the association more credible and members more confident.

Unpaid Assessments

Unpaid assessments can disrupt a Homeowner's association (HOA) 's financial balance. Under Wisconsin law, associations can put liens on properties and foreclose to collect past-due payments. Homeowners must pay their financial obligations and validate the association's authority to enforce its financial rules.

Wisconsin HOA

Governing Documents and Legal Framework

In Wisconsin, an HOA's legal framework is established by its articles of incorporation, bylaws, and declarations. These documents are critical. They are more than just procedural formalities; they are the foundation for all operational and management functions of the association. So, these governing documents govern the exact structure of an HOA's actions.

Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation

The articles of incorporation and bylaws are the backbone of an HOA, the blueprint for its corporate structure and procedures. They establish the rules for meetings, elections, and governance and require member approval for changes.

These governing documents must be updated regularly, requiring consulting with legal experts.

Declarations and Amendments

The covenants of an HOA are the rules that residents agree to follow, the norms of life in the community. Changing these rules requires thoughtful consideration and approval from members to ensure that the evolution of community standards aligns with the needs of its residents and state laws.

Members' Rights and Responsibilities

Being a member of a Homeowner's Association (HOA) has rights and responsibilities. Wisconsin residents don't just sit on the sidelines; they participate in the governance of their community by voting and attending meetings.

In return, these homeowners must follow the covenants and restrictions that define their community. That means they must live up to higher standards for their individual homes and common areas to maintain the quality of their neighborhood.

Voting Rights and Member Meetings

In Wisconsin, voting is the heart of democracy in a Homeowners' Association (HOA). During member meetings, which are the lifeblood of the community, individuals vote based on their ownership. At these meetings, association policies are made, board members are elected, and essential community decisions on budgets and other matters are made.

Property Maintenance and Use Restrictions

Covenants and restrictions, as outlined in the declarations, are critical to maintaining the community's look and structural integrity. Homeowners in Wisconsin must follow these community rules, which govern things like paint colors and structures. Compliance is mandatory, and failure to follow these rules can result in enforcement actions, including fines and penalties.

Dispute Resolution and Legal Considerations

Disputes in an HOA are inevitable in community living, but Wisconsin has mediation and arbitration processes to resolve them fairly and evenly. These processes follow state law and the association's governing documents, so resolutions are legal and consistent.

Violations and Penalties

In Wisconsin, when HOA rules are broken, a process is followed. First, the offender is notified and given a chance to correct the issue. Enforcement may involve fines as a penalty. These must be done fairly and within the law, especially when it comes to political signs and the national flag.

Get Legal Advice

Legal counsel can be helpful for Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) in Wisconsin for:

  • Understanding current laws
  • Adding new rules
  • Verifying the association's decisions are legal and in the community's best interest.
Wisconsin HOA

Property Values

HOA governance affects property values heavily. Good management and compliance with the law can make living conditions more desirable in Wisconsin and increase property values.

In this state, property values increase and are preserved by consistent maintenance, communication, and transparency.

HOA Rules and the Real Estate Market

HOA rules are more than just guidelines for the appearance of the community. They are also a reflection of the housing market. Strict adherence to these rules can attract buyers, increase demand, and then increase property values. But if the rules are too tight, they can repel people who value their independence and impact demand and property values.

So, Wisconsin HOAs need to find a balance between creating rules that protect and enhance property values and considering potential buyers' different tastes.

More Legal Requirements

In Wisconsin, homeowner associations (HOAs) have additional legal requirements beyond the day-to-day management of common areas. Specifically, under Wisconsin Act 199, HOAs must file specific notices with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to maintain high transparency and accountability in their operations.

Following these rules is about more than just following the letter of the law. It's about creating an environment of transparency that benefits all community members.

Annual Filing Requirements

Annual filings are part of the HOA's calendar and a commitment to transparency in the association. These filings include contact information and overall information that's more than just procedural. They are also a way to disclose the association's status to its members and comply with state law.

This annual document includes a real estate condition report and an overview of the HOH's organization and activities. It lets members know their community is being managed well and that they can trust those in charge.

Insurance and Maintenance Responsibilities

Under Wisconsin law, associations must have adequate insurance coverage to protect the association and its members from unexpected events. This provision highlights the importance of the HOA in protecting community interests and the value of common areas, so insurance and maintenance are part of an HOA's foundation.


Understanding Wisconsin HOA laws is critical to good governance and community order. It involves a deep dive into many statutes, regulations, and community goals that govern everything from essential governance to complex financial management and rule enforcement. Knowing these legal frameworks is crucial for peace of mind in the community, increasing property values, and making Wisconsin neighborhoods a desirable place to live.


What laws govern Wisconsin HOAs?

Wisconsin's primary laws govern homeowner associations (HOAs) are the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act and the Nonstock Corporations Act. These laws govern corporate governance for nonstock corporations and condominium ownership in the state.

How do Wisconsin HOAs comply with Fair Housing?

In compliance with federal and state fair housing laws, Wisconsin's Homeowners Associations (HOAs) must not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or national origin.

What do HOA board members do in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, HOA board members are responsible for setting policies, enforcing community standards, and managing financial tasks, which include creating and maintaining an annual budget.

Can Wisconsin HOAs be fined for rule violations?

Yes, Wisconsin HOAs can fine homeowners for rule violations as long as they follow the process and stay within the law. However, they cannot fine homeowners for political signs or the national flag.

How does HOA governance affect property values in Wisconsin?

Good HOA governance, following state laws, and maintaining common areas, can increase property values by making it a desirable place to live; bad rules can scare off buyers and decrease property demand.

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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