Landlord Eviction Frequently Asked Questions

rental agreement documentAs experienced real estate attorneys in Wisconsin, we know that owning a rental property can feel complicated at times, especially when a tenant is not paying their rent on time or has left their belongings in the unit. While the solution to these issues may seem straightforward, taking the wrong steps to resolve these eviction problems can cost a landlord more time and money.

How much notice do I have to give a tenant?

In Wisconsin, the exact amount of notice given to a tenant depends on the lease terms. There are three types of written termination notices that should be delivered: 5-day, 14-day, and 28-day.

If the landlord needs to evict a tenant (but not for a breach of lease) and the lease is monthly (month-to-month), the amount of notice is typically 28 days. The amount of notice changes if the eviction is due to a breach of lease; in these situations, a landlord can deliver a 14-day notice that does not give the tenant the option to pay the rent and remedy the situation.

If the lease is a longer-term arrangement, the landlord must provide a 5-day notice that gives the tenant the chance to remedy the situation (i.e. pay rent). If the tenant makes reparations, the tenant may stay. However, if the tenant misses another rent deadline, a 14-day notice can be given by the landlord.

In either of these situations, if a tenant does not leave the property, a landlord cannot remove the tenant. Instead, contact a lawyer to follow proper eviction procedures. The landlord also cannot lock out the tenant, remove the tenants’ items, or shut off utilities.

Can I evict a tenant during the winter?

A tenant can typically be evicted any time of the year, even in winter. However, there may be special circumstances where a tenant cannot be evicted in winter, such as with federally subsidized housing or in the case of elderly housing (consult a local lawyer to be sure). If there is cause for eviction, contact a lawyer to determine if evicting the tenant is legal in winter and for the appropriate legal process.

Can I remove a tenant?

A landlord cannot remove a tenant from the unit; only a law enforcement agent can do so after an eviction notice has been granted.

If a landlord does decide to evict a tenant, legal notices and/or eviction proceedings should be initiated.  Notices must be delivered in person or via a delivery method specified by law. To make sure notices are delivered correctly and on schedule, contact a lawyer for information. Eviction from a rental property is a legal process and must be filed in court.

What if the tenant leaves their items in the rental unit?

A landlord can only remove items from the rental unit IF a clause is included in the rental agreement that the landlord does not have to store abandoned property; consult a lawyer to make sure the rental agreement used is legal in Wisconsin and is complete. Unless a landlord is completely clear that the clause is included, items should not be removed; the landlord can be held responsible for the items.

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