New Law Grants Landlords Additional Means to Remove Tenants

Do you suspect your tenant, a family member, or “guest” is conducting criminal activity on your property?

Under a new Wisconsin landlord-tenant law, landlords may now evict that tenant through a five day notice.

New Wis. Stat. §704.17(3m) provides landlords additional remedies to protect their property, other tenants, and themselves from a tenant or someone connected to the tenant who commits certain crimes, or is involved in drug-related criminal activity (manufacturing/distributing) on or near the premises.

New Wis. Stat. §704.17(5) prohibits leases for terms of one year or less from waiving the statute.

Under the new law, a landlord can terminate a tenancy if:

  1. the tenant is involved in criminal activity, as defined in the statute;
  2. any member of the tenant’s household (and/or the tenant’s guest) is involved in criminal activity on the leased premises; or
  3. the tenant, a household member or guest is involved in drug-related criminal activity on or even near the premises.

Notably, the individual committing the crime or drug-related activity leading to the five day notice need not be convicted of or even arrested for the crime.

The statute defines criminal activity to include

  • Crime(s) that threaten the health or safety of, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by, other tenants or persons residing in the premises’ immediate vicinity;
  • Crime(s) that threaten the landlord, agent, or employee’s health or safety; and
  • Drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased premises.

The new notice requires a tenant to vacate the premises on or before five days after the notice is given, with no right to cure.

The notice must be in writing and delivered under precise specifications.

Along with stating that the offending tenant may seek help from legal counsel and may contest the notice’s allegations in an eviction action, the notice must state:

  • The basis for its issuance;
  • A description of the criminal or drug-related criminal activity;
  • The date the activity took place; and
  • The identity or description of those engaging in the activity.

Given the statute’s complexity, landlords should confer with counsel before issuing a notice.

Accurate facts and documentation are a must.

Your FOS attorney can help you comply with all eviction requirements.