Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? Wisconsin Revises Landlord-Tenant Laws

Wisconsin’s landlord-tenant laws continue to evolve, with a new batch of changes now effective this year.  Below are a few of the more significant changes.

Emotional Support Animals

An “emotional support animal” provides emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship for an individual, but is not trained to help an individual with a disability.

Under the new Wisconsin law, a housing facility that generally prohibits animals must permit an emotional support animal, if the tenant provides documentation from a health care professional licensed or certified in Wisconsin and acting within the license’s/certification’s scope.

Importantly, Wisconsin’s law on emotional support animals contains more requirements for tenants than the federal government mandate, which only requires “reliable documentation” from a tenant.

Due to this inconsistency between federal and Wisconsin law, landlords would be well-served by continuing to follow the federal law.

This will avoid any potential exposure from Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency tasked with overseeing housing laws.

Service of Notice

A landlord may now serve an eviction notice (e.g., the 5-day notice to pay or vacate) by certified mail.

The law also prohibits a court from requiring an affidavit of service for the eviction notice.

The process surrounding the service of an eviction summons and complaint, which follows the service of the eviction notice, remain the same.

Electronic Delivery

If agreed to in the lease, a landlord may now electronically deliver documents as to the landlord’s accounting or disposition of a security deposit/refund, the promise to clean or repair the unit, and notice to enter the rental unit.