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704.01 Definitions. In this chapter, unless the context indicates otherwise:
(1) "Lease" means an agreement, whether oral or written, for transfer of possession of real property, or both real and personal property, for a definite period of time. A lease is for a definite period of time if it has a fixed commencement date and a fixed expiration date or if the commencement and expiration can be ascertained by reference to some event, such as completion of a building. A lease is included within this chapter even though it may also be treated as a conveyance under ch. 706 . An agreement for transfer of possession of only personal property is not a lease.
(2) "Periodic tenant" means a tenant who holds possession without a valid lease and pays rent on a periodic basis. It includes a tenant from day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year or other recurring interval of time, the period being determined by the intent of the parties under the circumstances, with the interval between rent-paying dates normally evidencing that intent.
(3) "Premises" mean the property covered by the lease, including not only the realty and fixtures, but also any personal property furnished with the realty.
(4) "Tenancy" includes a tenancy under a lease, a periodic tenancy or a tenancy at will.
(5) "Tenant at will" means any tenant holding with the permission of the tenant's landlord without a valid lease and under circumstances not involving periodic payment of rent; but a person holding possession of real property under a contract of purchase or an employment contract is not a tenant under this chapter.
704.03 Requirement of writing for rental agreements and termination.
(1) Original agreement. A lease for more than a year, or a contract to make such a lease, is not enforceable unless it meets the requirements of s. 706.02 and in addition sets forth the amount of rent or other consideration, the time of commencement and expiration of the lease and a reasonably definite description of the premises, or unless a writing signed by the landlord and the tenant sets forth the amount of rent or other consideration, the duration of the lease and a reasonably definite description of the premises and the commencement date is established by entry of the tenant into possession under the writing. Sections 704.05 and 704.07 govern as to matters within the scope of such sections and not provided for in such written lease or contract.
(2) Entry under unenforceable lease. If a tenant enters into possession under a lease for more than one year which does not meet the requirements of sub. (1) , and the tenant pays rent on a periodic basis, the tenant becomes a periodic tenant. If the premises in such case are used for residential purposes and the rent is payable monthly, the tenant becomes a month-to-month tenant; but if the use is agricultural or nonresidential, the tenant becomes a year-to-year tenant without regard to the rent-payment periods. Except for duration of the tenancy and matters within the scope of ss. 704.05 and 704.07 , the tenancy is governed by the terms and conditions agreed upon. Notice as provided in s. 704.19 is necessary to terminate such a periodic tenancy.
(3) Assignment. An assignment by the tenant of a leasehold interest which has an unexpired period of more than one year is not enforceable against the assignor unless the assignment is in writing reasonably identifying the lease and signed by the assignor; and any agreement to assume the obligations of the original lease which has an unexpired period of more than one year is not enforceable unless in writing signed by the assignee.
(4) Termination of written lease prior to normal expiration date. An agreement to terminate a tenancy more than one year prior to the expiration date specified in a valid written lease is not enforceable unless it is in writing signed by both parties. Any other agreement between the landlord and tenant to terminate a lease prior to its normal expiration date, or to terminate a periodic tenancy or tenancy at will without the statutory notice required by s. 704.19 may be either oral or written. Nothing herein prevents surrender by operation of law.
(5) Proof. In any case where a lease or agreement is not in writing signed by both parties but is enforceable under this section, the lease or agreement must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.
704.05 Rights and duties of landlord and tenant in absence of written agreement to contrary.
(1) When section applicable. So far as applicable, this section governs the rights and duties of the landlord and tenant in the absence of any inconsistent provision in writing signed by both the landlord and the tenant. This section applies to any tenancy.
(2) Possession of tenant and access by landlord. Until the expiration date specified in the lease, or the termination of a periodic tenancy or tenancy at will, and so long as the tenant is not in default, the tenant has the right to exclusive possession of the premises, except as hereafter provided. The landlord may upon advance notice and at reasonable times inspect the premises, make repairs and show the premises to prospective tenants or purchasers; and if the tenant is absent from the premises and the landlord reasonably believes that entry is necessary to preserve or protect the premises, the landlord may enter without notice and with such force as appears necessary.
(3) Use of premises, additions or alterations by tenant. The tenant can make no physical changes in the nature of the premises, including decorating, removing, altering or adding to the structures thereon, without prior consent of the landlord. The tenant cannot use the premises for any unlawful purpose nor in such manner as to interfere unreasonably with use by another occupant of the same building or group of buildings.
(4) Tenant's fixtures. At the termination of the tenancy, the tenant may remove any fixtures installed by the tenant if the tenant either restores the premises to their condition prior to the installation or pays to the landlord the cost of such restoration. Where such fixtures were installed to replace similar fixtures which were part of the premises at the time of the commencement of the tenancy, and the original fixtures cannot be restored the tenant may remove fixtures installed by the tenant only if the tenant replaces them with fixtures at least comparable in condition and value to the original fixtures. The tenant's right to remove fixtures is not lost by an extension or renewal of a lease without reservation of such right to remove. This subsection applies to any fixtures added by the tenant for convenience as well as those added for purposes of trade, agriculture or business; but this subsection does not govern the rights of parties other than the landlord and tenant.
(5) Storage or disposition of personalty left by tenant.
704.06 Water heater thermostat settings. A landlord of premises which are subject to a residential tenancy and served by a water heater serving only that premises shall set the thermostat of that water heater at no higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit before any new tenant occupies that premises or at the minimum setting of that water heater if the minimum setting is higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
704.07 Repairs; untenantability. (1) Application of section. This section applies to any nonresidential tenancy if there is no contrary provision in writing signed by both parties and to all residential tenancies. An agreement to waive the requirements of this section in a residential tenancy is void. Nothing in this section is intended to affect rights and duties arising under other provisions of the statutes.
(2) Duty of landlord. (a) Unless the repair was made necessary by the negligence or improper use of the premises by the tenant, the landlord is under duty to:
(3) Duty of tenant. (a) If the premises are damaged by the negligence or improper use of the premises by the tenant, the tenant must repair the damage and restore the appearance of the premises by redecorating. However, the landlord may elect to undertake the repair or redecoration, and in such case the tenant must reimburse the landlord for the reasonable cost thereof; the cost to the landlord is presumed reasonable unless proved otherwise by the tenant.
(4) Untenantability. If the premises become untenantable because of damage by fire, water or other casualty or because of any condition hazardous to health, or if there is a substantial violation of sub. (2) materially affecting the health or safety of the tenant, the tenant may remove from the premises unless the landlord proceeds promptly to repair or rebuild or eliminate the health hazard or the substantial violation of sub. (2) materially affecting the health or safety of the tenant; or the tenant may remove if the inconvenience to the tenant by reason of the nature and period of repair, rebuilding or elimination would impose undue hardship on the tenant. If the tenant remains in possession, rent abates to the extent the tenant is deprived of the full normal use of the premises. This section does not authorize rent to be withheld in full, if the tenant remains in possession. If the tenant justifiably moves out under this subsection, the tenant is not liable for rent after the premises become untenantable and the landlord must repay any rent paid in advance apportioned to the period after the premises become untenantable. This subsection is inapplicable if the damage or condition is caused by negligence or improper use by the tenant.
704.09 Transferability; effect of assignment or transfer; remedies. (1) Transferability of interest of tenant or landlord. A tenant under a tenancy at will or any periodic tenancy less than year-to-year may not assign or sublease except with the agreement or consent of the landlord. The interest of any other tenant or the interest of any landlord may be transferred except as the lease expressly restricts power to transfer. A lease restriction on transfer is construed to apply only to voluntary transfer unless there is an express restriction on transfer by operation of law.
(2) Effect of transfer on liability of transferor. In the absence of an express release or a contrary provision in the lease, transfer or consent to transfer does not relieve the transferring party of any contractual obligations under the lease, except in the special situation governed by s. 704.25 (5) .
(3) Covenants which apply to transferee. All covenants and provisions in a lease which are not either expressly or by necessary implication personal to the original parties are enforceable by or against the successors in interest of any party to the lease. However, a successor in interest is liable in damages, or entitled to recover damages, only for a breach which occurs during the period when the successor holds his or her interest, unless the successor has by contract assumed greater liability; a personal representative may also recover damages for a breach for which the personal representative's decedent could have recovered.
(4) Same procedural remedies. The remedies available between the original landlord and tenant are also available to or against any successor in interest to either party.
(5) Consent as affecting subsequent transfers. If a lease restricts transfer, consent to a transfer or waiver of a breach of the restriction is not a consent or waiver as to any subsequent transfers.
704.11 Lien of landlord. Except as provided in ss. 704.05 (5) , 704.90 and 779.43 or by express agreement of the parties, the landlord has no right to a lien on the property of the tenant; the common-law right of a landlord to distrain for rent is abolished.
704.13 Acts of tenant not to affect rights of landlord. No act of a tenant in acknowledging as landlord a person other than the tenant's original landlord or the latter's successors in interest can prejudice the right of the original landlord or the original landlord's successors to possession of the premises.
704.15 Requirement that landlord notify tenant of automatic renewal clause. A provision in a lease of residential property that the lease shall be automatically renewed or extended for a specified period unless the tenant or either party gives notice to the contrary prior to the end of the lease is not enforceable against the tenant unless the lessor, at least 15 days but not more than 30 days prior to the time specified for the giving of such notice to the lessor, gives to the tenant written notice in the same manner as specified in s. 704.21 calling the attention of the tenant to the existence of the provision in the lease for automatic renewal or extension.
704.17 Notice terminating tenancies for failure to pay rent or other breach by tenant.
(1) Month-to-month and week-to-week tenancies.
(2) Tenancies under a lease for one year or less, and year-to-year tenancies.
(3) Lease for more than one year.
(4) Form of notice and manner of giving. Notice must be in writing and given as specified in s. 704.21 . If so given, the tenant is not entitled to possession or occupancy of the premises after the date of termination specified in the notice.
(5) Contrary provision in the lease. Provisions in the lease or rental agreement for termination contrary to this section are invalid except in leases for more than one year.
704.19 Notice necessary to terminate periodic tenancies and tenancies at will. (1) Scope of section. The following types of tenancies, however created, are subject to this section:
(2) Requirement of notice.
(3) Length of notice. At least 28 days' notice must be given except in the following cases: If rent is payable on a basis less than monthly, notice at least equal to the rent-paying period is sufficient; all agricultural tenancies from year-to-year require at least 90 days' notice.
(4) Contents of notice. Notice must be in writing, formal or informal, and substantially inform the other party to the landlord-tenant relation of the intent to terminate the tenancy and the date of termination. A notice is not invalid because of errors in the notice which do not mislead, including omission of the name of one of several landlords or tenants.
(5) Effect of inaccurate termination date in notice. If a notice provides that a periodic tenancy is to terminate on the first day of a succeeding rental period rather than the last day of a rental period, and the notice was given in sufficient time to terminate the tenancy at the end of the rental period, the notice is valid; if the notice was given by the tenant, the landlord may require the tenant to remove on the last day of the rental period, but if the notice was given by the landlord the tenant may remove on the last day specified in the notice. If a notice specified any other inaccurate termination date, because it does not allow the length of time required under sub. (3) or because it does not correspond to the end of a rental period in the case of a periodic tenancy, the notice is valid but not effective until the first date which could have been properly specified in such notice subsequent to the date specified in the notice, but the party to whom the notice is given may elect to treat the date specified in the notice as the legally effective date. If a notice by a tenant fails to specify any termination date, the notice is valid but not effective until the first date which could have been properly specified in such notice as of the date the notice is given.
(6) Tenant moving out without notice. If any periodic tenant vacates the premises without notice to the landlord and fails to pay rent when due for any period, such tenancy is terminated as of the first date on which it would have terminated had the landlord been given proper notice on the day the landlord learns of the removal.
(7) When notice given. Notice is given on the day specified below, which is counted as the first day of the notice period:
(8) Effect of notice. If a notice is given as required by this section, the tenant is not entitled to possession or occupancy of the premises after the date of termination as specified in the notice.
704.21 Manner of giving notice. (1) Notice by landlord. Notice by the landlord or a person in the landlord's behalf must be given under this chapter by one of the following methods:
(2) Notice by tenant. Notice by the tenant or a person in the tenant's behalf must be given under this chapter by one of the following methods:
(3) Corporation or partnership. If notice is to be given to a corporation notice may be given by any method provided in sub. (1) or (2) except that notice under sub. (1) (a) or (2) (a) may be given only to an officer, director, registered agent or managing agent, or left with an employe in the office of such officer or agent during regular business hours. If notice is to be given to a partnership, notice may be given by any method in sub. (1) or (2) except that notice under sub. (1) (a) or (2) (a) may be given only to a general partner or managing agent of the partnership, or left with an employe in the office of such partner or agent during regular business hours, or left at the usual place of abode of a general partner in the presence of some competent member of the general partner's family at least 14 years of age, who is informed of the contents of the notice.
(4) Notice to one of several parties. If there are 2 or more landlords or 2 or more cotenants of the same premises, notice given to one is deemed to be given to the others also.
(5) Effect of actual receipt of notice. If notice is not properly given by one of the methods specified in this section, but is actually received by the other party, the notice is deemed to be properly given; but the burden is upon the party alleging actual receipt to prove the fact by clear and convincing evidence.
704.22 Service of process in residential tenancy on nonresident party. (1) A party to a residential tenancy in this state who is not a resident of this state shall designate an agent to accept service of process in this state for an action involving the tenancy. The agent shall be a resident of this state or a corporation authorized to do business in this state. If a party is a corporation, the agent is the corporation's registered agent.
(2) Designation of an agent under sub. (1) shall be in writing and filed with the department of financial institutions.
704.23 Removal of tenant on termination of tenancy. If a tenant remains in possession without consent of the tenant's landlord after termination of the tenant's tenancy, the landlord may in every case proceed in any manner permitted by law to remove the tenant and recover damages for such holding over.
704.25 Effect of holding over after expiration of lease; removal of tenant. (1) Removal and recovery of damages. If a tenant holds over after expiration of a lease, the landlord may in every case proceed in any manner permitted by law to remove the tenant and recover damages for such holding over.
(2) Creation of periodic tenancy by holding over.
(3) Terms of tenancy created by holding over. A periodic tenancy arising under this section is upon the same terms and conditions as those of the original lease except that any right of the tenant to renew or extend the lease, or to purchase the premises, or any restriction on the power of the landlord to sell without first offering to sell the premises to the tenant, does not carry over to such a tenancy.
(4) Effect of contrary agreement. This section governs except as the parties agree otherwise either by the terms of the lease itself or by an agreement at any subsequent time.
(5) Holdover by assignee or subtenant. If an assignee or subtenant holds over after the expiration of the lease, the landlord may either elect to:
(6) Notice terminating a tenancy created by holding over. Any tenancy created pursuant to this section is terminable under s. 704.19.
704.27 Damages for failure of tenant to vacate at end of lease or after notice. If a tenant remains in possession without consent of the tenant's landlord after expiration of a lease or termination of a tenancy by notice given by either the landlord or the tenant, or after termination by valid agreement of the parties, the landlord may recover from the tenant damages suffered by the landlord because of the failure of the tenant to vacate within the time required. In absence of proof of greater damages, the landlord may recover as minimum damages twice the rental value apportioned on a daily basis for the time the tenant remains in possession. As used in this section, rental value means the amount for which the premises might reasonably have been rented, but not less than the amount actually paid or payable by the tenant for the prior rental period, and includes the money equivalent of any obligations undertaken by the tenant as part of the rental agreement, such as payment of taxes, insurance and repairs.
704.29 Recovery of rent and damages by landlord; mitigation.
(1) Scope of section. If a tenant unjustifiably removes from the premises prior to the effective date for termination of the tenant's tenancy and defaults in payment of rent, or if the tenant is removed for failure to pay rent or any other breach of a lease, the landlord can recover rent and damages except amounts which the landlord could mitigate in accordance with this section, unless the landlord has expressly agreed to accept a surrender of the premises and end the tenant's liability. Except as the context may indicate otherwise, this section applies to the liability of a tenant under a lease, a periodic tenant, or an assignee of either.
(2) Measure of recovery. In any claim against a tenant for rent and damages, or for either, the amount of recovery is reduced by the net rent obtainable by reasonable efforts to rerent the premises. Reasonable efforts mean those steps which the landlord would have taken to rent the premises if they had been vacated in due course, provided that such steps are in accordance with local rental practice for similar properties. In the absence of proof that greater net rent is obtainable by reasonable efforts to rerent the premises, the tenant is credited with rent actually received under a rerental agreement minus expenses incurred as a reasonable incident of acts under sub. (4) , including a fair proportion of any cost of remodeling or other capital improvements. In any case the landlord can recover, in addition to rent and other elements of damage, all reasonable expenses of listing and advertising incurred in rerenting and attempting to rerent (except as taken into account in computing the net rent under the preceding sentence). If the landlord has used the premises as part of reasonable efforts to rerent, under sub. (4) (c) , the tenant is credited with the reasonable value of the use of the premises, which is presumed to be equal to the rent recoverable from the defendant unless the landlord proves otherwise. If the landlord has other similar premises for rent and receives an offer from a prospective tenant not obtained by the defendant, it is reasonable for the landlord to rent the other premises for the landlord's own account in preference to those vacated by the defaulting tenant.
(3) Burden of proof. The landlord must allege and prove that the landlord has made efforts to comply with this section. The tenant has the burden of proving that the efforts of the landlord were not reasonable, that the landlord's refusal of any offer to rent the premises or a part thereof was not reasonable, that any terms and conditions upon which the landlord has in fact rerented were not reasonable, and that any temporary use by the landlord was not part of reasonable efforts to mitigate in accordance with sub. (4) (c) ; the tenant also has the burden of proving the amount that could have been obtained by reasonable efforts to mitigate by rerenting.
(4) Acts privileged in mitigation of rent or damages. The following acts by the landlord do not defeat the landlord's right to recover rent and damages and do not constitute an acceptance of surrender of the premises:
704.31 Remedy on default in long terms; improvements. (1) If there is a default in the conditions in any lease or a breach of the covenants thereof and such lease provides for a term of 30 years or more and requires the tenant to erect or construct improvements or buildings upon the land demised at the tenant's own cost and exceeding in value the sum of $50,000, and such improvements have been made and the landlord desires to terminate the lease and recover possession of the property described therein freed from all liens, claims or demands of such lessee, the landlord may, in case of any breach or default, commence an action against the tenant and all persons claiming under the tenant to recover the possession of the premises leased and proceed in all respects as if the action was brought under the statute to foreclose a mortgage upon real estate, except that no sale of the premises shall be ordered.
(2) The judgment shall determine the breach or default complained of, fix the amount due the landlord at such time, and state the several amounts to become due within one year from the entry thereof, and provide that unless the amount adjudged to be due from the tenant, with interest thereon as provided in the lease or by law, shall be paid to the landlord within one year from the entry thereof and the tenant shall, within such period, fully comply with the judgment requiring the tenant to make good any default in the conditions of the lease, that the tenant and those claiming under the tenant shall be forever barred and foreclosed of any title or interest in the premises described in the lease and that in default of payment thereof within one year from the entry of the judgment the tenant shall be personally liable for the amount thereof. During the one-year period ensuing the date of the entry of the judgment the possession of the demised premises shall remain in the tenant and the tenant shall receive the rents, issues and profits thereof; but if the tenant fails to comply with the terms of the judgment and the same is not fully satisfied, and refuses to surrender the possession of the demised premises at the expiration of said year, the landlord shall be entitled to a writ of assistance or execution to be issued and executed as provided by law.
(3) This section does not apply to a lease to which a local professional baseball park district created under subch. III of ch. 229 is a party.
704.40 Remedies available when tenancy dependent upon life of another terminates. (1) Any person occupying premises as tenant of the owner of a life estate or any person owning an estate for the life of another, upon cessation of the measuring life, is liable to the owner of the reversion or remainder for the reasonable rental value of the premises for any period the occupant remains in possession after termination of the life estate. Rental value as used in this section has the same meaning as rental value defined in s. 704.27 .
(2) The owner of the reversion or remainder can remove the occupant in any lawful manner including eviction proceedings under ch. 799 as follows:
(3) The occupant must promptly after written demand give information as to the nature of the occupant's possession. If the occupant fails to do so, the reversioner or remainderman may treat the occupant as a tenant from month-to-month.
704.45 Retaliatory conduct in residential tenancies prohibited.(1) Except as provided in sub. (2) , a landlord in a residential tenancy may not increase rent, decrease services, bring an action for possession of the premises, refuse to renew a lease or threaten any of the foregoing, if there is a preponderance of evidence that the action or inaction would not occur but for the landlord's retaliation against the tenant for doing any of the following:
(2) Notwithstanding sub. (1) , a landlord may bring an action for possession of the premises if the tenant has not paid rent other than a rent increase prohibited by sub. (1) .
(3) This section does not apply to complaints made about defects in the premises caused by the negligence or improper use of the tenant who is affected by the action or inaction.
704.90 Self-service storage facilities. (1) Definitions. In this section:
(2) Use of leased space.
(2m) Written rental agreement. Every rental agreement shall be in writing and shall contain a provision allowing the lessee to specify the name and last-known address of a person who, in addition to the lessee, the operator is required to notify under sub. (5)(b) 1.
(3) Lien and notice in rental agreement.
(4) Care and custody. Except as provided in the rental agreement and in this section, a lessee has exclusive care, custody and control of personal property stored in the lessee's leased space.
(4g) Default or failure to pay after termination. A lessee who defaults or fails to pay rent for the storage of personal property abandoned after the termination of the rental agreement is subject to the procedures and remedies in subs. (4r) to (9) and (12) .
(4r) Denial of access; removal and storage.
(5) Redemption and notice of opportunity to redeem.
(6) Sale, notice of sale and proceeds of sale.
(7) Notice; presumption of delivery. Notice by mailing under sub. (5) (b) is presumed delivered if deposited with the U.S. postal service, properly addressed to the last-known address of the lessee or person specified in the rental agreement under sub. (2m) with postage prepaid.
(8) Supplemental nature of section. This section does not impair or affect in any way the right of parties to create liens by special contract or agreement, nor does it impair or affect any lien not arising under this section, whether the other lien is statutory or of any other nature.
(9) Rules. The department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection may promulgate rules necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
(11) Duties of the department of agriculture, trade and consumer protection.
(12) Right to action for violation. In addition to the remedies otherwise provided by law, any person injured by a violation of this section or any rule promulgated under sub. (9) may bring a civil action to recover damages together with costs, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees, notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1) , and any equitable relief as may be determined by the court.
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