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Wisconsin Security Deposit Laws

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 02.21.2023

The state of Wisconsin does not limit the amount of property owner can collect as a security deposit, however, it is common to charge one to two months rent. The state of Wisconsin does, on the other hand, limit the amount a property owner can charge for an application fee. to learn more about security deposit regulations in the state of Wisconsin, continue reading below.

Is there a limit on how much the property manager/owner can charge for an application fee? If so, what is that amount?

Property owners in the state of Wisconsin can charge up to $20 as an application fee. Property owners must also provide potential residents with copy of their background report.

What is the security deposit amount the landlord can collect?

According to legislation in the state of Wisconsin, property owners can request a security deposit of any amount to protect their property in the event of damages or unpaid rent. The security deposit amount must be stated in the rental agreement. It is common to collect one to two months’ rent as a security deposit in the state of Wisconsin.

Can the property manager/owner collect a fee for pets?

Yes. Property owners in Wisconsin can collect a pet deposit separate from the apartment security deposit. There is no limit regarding how much Wisconsin property owners can collect for a pet fee, however, it is commonplace to collect an additional one month rent as a security deposit for pets. Service pets are an exemption, and disabled persons with service pets do not have to pay an additional security deposit. However, if a service dog causes damages, the resident is still liable for expenses incurred.

How does the security deposit need to be held?

Property owners in the state of Wisconsin are not required to keep the security deposit separate, or in escrow.

Is the property manager/owner required to tell the resident where the deposit is held?

No. Property owners in the state of Wisconsin are not required to provide residents with information regarding where the deposit is held.

Is the property manager/owner required to tell the resident what the interest rate on the account is (if applicable)?

No. Property owners in the state of Wisconsin are not required to tell residents what the interest rate on the account is.

What can the property manager/owner deduct from the security deposit?

Property owners in the state of Wisconsin can use a security deposit, or a portion of it, to cover unpaid rent, damages that exceed normal wear and tear, damages caused by the residents failure to comply with their obligations, unpaid utilities that are the responsibility of the resident, municipal fees that are the responsibility of the resident, or other nonstandard expenses, as long as they are listed in the lease agreement.

How long does the property manager/owner have to return the security deposit after the lease has ended?

Property owners in the state of Wisconsin have 21 days in order to return the security deposit, or its remainder, if applicable, alongside an itemized list of damages deducted.

What penalties does the property manager/owner face if they do not return the security deposit on time?

Property owners in the state of Wisconsin that do not return the security deposit, or its remainder alongside an itemized list of deductions within the 21 days allotted by law maybe find double the security deposit amount as well as legal fees associated with recovering the security deposits. Vacating residents who do not receive their security deposit on time may also sue the property owner in small claims court for up to $10,000.

What is the process for the property manager/owner to claim the security deposit funds?

In order to accept the security deposit in the state of Wisconsin, property owners must inform potential residents of any violations or conditions that may impact living situations. Property owners must also provide residents with a check in inspection in which existing damages or damages that were corrected before the new resident moved in are made known. If after a lease termination, a property owner wants to claim the security deposit funds, or a portion of it, they must provide a list of damages deducted and the amount withheld for each item. Property owners must hand deliver or send to the forwarding address of the vacating resident the itemized list of damages deducted. It is the responsibility of the vacating resident to provide the property owner with their forwarding address. In the event that a vacating resident does not provide a forwarding address to the property owner, the property owner is not to be held responsible for damages resulting from late return of the security deposit, or its remainder.

Is the resident allowed to apply their security deposit towards the last month’s rent?

According to Wisconsin State law, security deposits may be used as the last month’s rent if the renter and property owner agree to it in writing in the lease agreement.

To summarize, the state of Wisconsin has clearly outlined regulations regarding how property owners must return the security deposit, what they can deduct, and what the penalty is in the event that they do not return the security deposit on time. Property owners in the state of Wisconsin that want to collect the security deposit must be sure to notify the potential resident of building or housing code violations otherwise they may risk forfeiting their right to withhold a portion of the security deposit.

Disclaimer & Sources:

Qira aims to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. The content provided here is for informational purposes and should not replace legal counsel. Please refer to the relevant government sources to check for any changes or updates to the law.

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Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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