Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Wisconsin since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
Wisconsin state law does not cover most of these rent-related issues.
Wisconsin Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Wisconsin state law does not cover late rent fees. If your lease or rental agreement does not say anything about late fees, your landlord may not impose one, no matter how reasonable it is.
Amount of Notice Wisconsin Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
Wisconsin does not have a state statute on the amount of notice the landlord must provide tenants in order to increase the rent or change other terms of a month-to-month rental agreement. Unless your rental agreement specifies otherwise, the landlord must typically provide the same amount of notice to change the rent or another term of the tenancy as state law requires the landlord to provide when ending the tenancy—in this case, 28 days. Keep in mind that if you have a long-term lease, the landlord may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination
Wisconsin landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, Wisconsin landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
Wisconsin State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. Wisconsin landlords must give month-to-month tenants at least five days in which to pay the rent or move. The landlord can use an Unconditional Quit notice with fourteen days’ notice for month- to month tenants. Landlords must give tenants with a lease less than one year, and year-to-year tenants five days, and cannot use an Unconditional Quit notice. Tenants with a lease longer than one year must be given 30 days’ notice, and a landlord may not use an Unconditional Quit notice.
Wisconsin Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Wisconsin landlord-tenant law, see http://datcp.wi.gov/uploads/Consumer/pdf/TenantsRights143.pdf.
Wisconsin State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent, see Wis. Stat. Ann. § 704.19.
For Wisconsin laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see Wis. Stat. Ann. § 704.17.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.