Your lease or rental agreement and Wisconsin state law are the key places to look for answers to this question. Basically, if you pay rent late, you may be hit with a late fee and possibly face the termination of your tenancy. To avoid problems, know when your rent is due and pay it on time.
Read the Rent and Termination Clauses in Your Lease or Rental Agreement
Look for a clause called Payment of Rent, or something similar. Basically, you want to find out the following:
- the date that rent is due—this is usually the first of the month (and this is the date the landlord receives your rent payment, not the date that the envelope with your mailed rent check is postmarked)
- what happens if the first of the month falls on a weekend or holiday (your lease may give you until the next business day to pay rent)
- whether or not you have a grace period before rent is considered late, and
- whether or not your landlord will charge you a late fee (and how much) if you don’t pay rent on time (Wisconsin law does not cover late fees or set a late fee limit, as some states do, so it’s a matter of what your lease or rental agreement says on the subject).
You’ll also want to check what your lease says regarding the landlord’s right to terminate your entire tenancy if you pay rent late. Unfortunately, many lease and rental agreements don’t spell this out, but simply include a general clause called something like Grounds for Termination of Tenancy, that states that if you fail to comply with a term of your agreement the landlord may terminate your tenancy under rules and procedures required by law. Read on to find out what these rules and procedures are in Wisconsin.
Understand Tenant Rights Under Wisconsin Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
If you have not paid the rent on time, under state law in Wisconsin (Wis. Stat. Ann. § 704.17), termination rules depend on whether you have a rental agreement or a lease:
- If you have a month-to-month rental agreement, your landlord must give you at least five days in which to pay the rent or move. Your landlord can use an Unconditional Quit notice with fourteen days’ notice for month- to month tenants.
- If you have a fixed-term lease longer than one year, your must give you 30 days’ notice, and may not use an Unconditional Quit notice.
More Information on Tenant Rent Rights in Wisconsin
For details on other Wisconsin rent-related laws, such as the amount of notice a landlord must give to raise the rent, see the Nolo article on Wisconsin rent rules. And if you simply can’t pay rent on time, consider other options, such as trying to negotiate a partial rent payment. See the Nolo article What to Do and Not to Do if You Can’t Pay Rent on Time for advice.
Finally, keep in mind that you if you constantly pay rent late, and you have a month-to-month rental agreement, your landlord may decide to simply terminate your tenancy (with 28 days’ notice under Wisconsin law), rather than deal with the hassle of regularly sending you late rent notices. And even if your landlord does not terminate your tenancy, don’t expect a great reference from your current landlord when you move on to a new apartment.