Residential Landlords Beware

By: Richard J. Rakita.  Virtually every residential tenancy agreement provides for a security deposit from the tenant which is held by the landlord in order to protect to some extent the landlord’s right to certain obligations from the tenant.  Wisconsin law has several statutes and provisions in its administrative code which regulate the use of that security deposit by the landlord.  To be more specific, the landlord can only deduct certain items from the security deposit.  These items consist of the following:

  1. Damage, waste or neglect;
  2. Unpaid rent;
  3. Failure to pay a utility service provided by the landlord;
  4. Failure to pay a utility service for which the landlord could become liable based on tenant’s nonpayment;
  5. Failure to pay a municipal permit fee for which the landlord could become liable based on tenant’s nonpayment; or
  6. Any other payment for a reason provided in a nonstandard rental provision document.

In connection with the first permitted deduction (tenant damage, waste or neglect), the statute specifically excludes damages as a result of normal wear and tear or other damages or losses for which the tenant could not reasonably be held responsible under applicable law. Continue reading


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