Winter Eviction Laws for Wisconsin

by Jill Stimson J.D. ; Updated July 27, 2017
Wisconsin landlords may not cut off utilities to force eviction.

Wisconsin laws allow landlords to evict tenants after providing notice of eviction. Landlords may evict tenants during the winter season unless the landlord and tenant enter into a private written lease agreement precluding evictions during the winter. The landlord can legally evict tenants by pursuing a legal claim against the tenant in the local county court. Landlords who forcefully evict tenants through self-help measures such as cutting off utilities during winter months face civil penalties.

Types of Leases

Landlords in Wisconsin can enter into oral lease agreements with their tenants if the lease term is for one year or less. Landlords need written lease agreements, however, for tenancies exceeding a one-year term. Wisconsin requires landlords to provide notice prior to evicting a tenant regardless of whether the lease agreement is oral or written.

Eviction

In Wisconsin, landlords may evict tenants during any time of the year, including during the winter months. Landlords must, however, provide written notice to the tenant providing an adequate notice period prior to filing a summons and complaint in the county clerk’s office. After providing the tenant with written notice, serving the tenant with a complaint and summons and receiving a judgment in the landlord’s favor, the landlord can proceed with eviction through the local sheriff’s office.

Notice

Landlords must provide written notice to tenants to pay rent or face legal eviction if the tenant is not paying monthly rent obligations. Tenants have five days to pay rent after receiving written notice of eviction. If the tenant pays the entire delinquency within the five-day window, then the tenants can legally remain in the rental. Tenants who continue to live in the unit without paying the delinquency are “holdover” tenants that face legal eviction.

Summons and Complaint

Tenants in Wisconsin who do not voluntarily leave the rental premises for nonpayment of rent or for breaching another lease provision face forced evictions. Landlords must file a summons and complaint in the local county clerk’s office setting a date for the eviction hearing. The landlord must serve the complaint and summons personally on the tenant through a process server or sheriff’s office. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor after the hearing or if, after the tenant does not appear, the complaint is dismissed in the landlord’s favor, then the county sheriff can remove the tenant’s personal possessions and forcefully evict the tenant.

Exceptions

Public landlords renting to elderly residents or landlords who enter into lease agreements with local housing agencies such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agency may have different lease obligations that prevent landlords from evicting tenants during the winter. The terms of those lease agreements determine, however, whether landlords can evict during certain months.

Considerations

Since real estate laws frequently change, you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.

About the Author

Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Photo Credits

  • Colorfull Buildings at Winter image by TekinT from Fotolia.com