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Renters' Rights & Responsibilities
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As a tenant in Wisconsin, you and your landlord each have responsibilities to each other to ensure that your tenancy goes smoothly. To avoid issues with your landlord, it is important that you know what these rights and responsibilities are.
Prior to Signing a Lease
- Check out your landlord. Ask current tenants about their experiences in the apartment, if possible. Ask if the landlord has made repairs promptly.
Check public records such as police records or small claims court to see if the landlord or the rental company has a history of issues with tenants, or
contact Consumer Protection.
- Check out the apartment. You have the right to inspect the unit before you rent it. For instance, turn on each light switch to see if it
works and check outlets. Test plumbing fixtures to check for leaks. Most importantly, ensure that there are smoke detectors and deadbolts on
apartment and exterior doors.
Your Responsibilities as a Tenant
- Fill out your check-in form. You will have at least 7 days from when you move into an apartment to give the completed check-in
form to the landlord. You should also keep a copy of the completed check-in form for yourself. Completing the form will document the
state of the rental unit when you moved in, and what damages you should not be charged for when you move out.
- Perform minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs. You must also repair (or pay the landlord to repair) all damages caused by you or your guests.
- Call landlord for maintenance when something isn't working. For instance, a leaking toilet can cause substantial damage if left unrepaired.
- Keep items furnished with the premises in reasonable working order. This includes plumbing, electrical wiring, machinery and equipment.
- Comply with all local housing codes and keep the apartment in safe, sanitary condition.
- Keep working battery in smoke detectors and the thermostat set at a minimum of 55°F to prevent freezing of pipes and other equipment.
- Provide the name and address of a person who can be readily contacted regarding maintenance problems.
- Make any repairs that are necessary to comply with local housing codes and to keep the premises safe. If the landlord refuses to repair
major building defects, you may report the defect to your local building or health inspector. The landlord may not retaliate by evicting you.
- Provide advance entry notices. Except for emergency situations, the landlord may enter only after a 12-hour advance notice unless you allow
entry on shorter notice for repairs or showings. There is a 24-hour advance notice requirement in Madison and Fitchburg.
- Maintain all supplied equipment, including all appliances and keep heating, plumbing, electrical system and building structure in good condition.
- Keep common areas clean and in good condition, such as hallways, storage areas, laundry rooms, parking lots and yards.
- Comply with all local housing codes. If the building is occupied by one or more tenants, improper use or damage by one tenant does not relieve
the landlord of the duty to maintain the premises for the other tenants in the building.
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