There's a shouty bit in tenant-landlord the law, did you know? In ATCP 134, and Wis. Stat. 704.28, the laws talk about NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS, which are a tail on the end of the lease, where the landlord has to explain about the rights that they are taking away from the tenant.
It sounds like a situation where people should be all up in arms (they did WHAT?? NOW I'M SHOUTY, TOO), but most Wisconsin leases feature NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS. The main things they are used for is: taking extra things out of security deposits, and saying that landlords can come into an apartment without giving all the notice they're supposed to. Below is an explanation to help you read them more carefully.
Wisconsin law requires that landlords put certain provisions separately, so that a tenant will really see them, and understand that their rights are being removed by this section. If a landlord wants to do these certain things, they HAVE to be in a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION. These provisions are:
1. Security Deposit Deductions: If a landlord wants to deduct for NON-standard things from a security deposit (things besides unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, unpaid monthly municipal permit fees (such as mobile home parking fees), and costs for damage that the tenant did), then they have to put it in the NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION. Often, these are the extra fees that a landlord charges in the lease, and they want the right to be able to take them out of a security deposit, if unpaid. In order to take these extra fees out of a security deposit, the landlord must:
- Authorize that charge in the regular part of the lease (example: If rent is late, a $10 late fee will be charged), AND
- Give themselves the right to take it out of the security deposit, if unpaid, when the lease is over. This bit must be in the NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION, since it is a non-standard charge from a security deposit.
2. Landlord Entry: According to ATCP 134.09(2), a landlord can only enter a rental unit with advance notice to inspect the unit, to show it to prospective tenants, or to make repairs. They can enter with no notice if there's an emergency. (More info over at our Landlord Entry page). Beyond that, though, some landlords want to be able to enter without advance notice (most commonly, when a tenant requests that repairs be done). All these other situations, where landlords want to be able to enter for other reasons, or without advance notice, must be in the NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION.
3. Landlord Taking the Tenant's Property (a Lien): This subject has gotten muddied lately, but during the course of the lease, the landlord does not have the right to take the tenant's property. (After the lease is over, it's possible the landlord may have rights to take the tenant's property, but that's a horse of a different color.) However, in some situations, a landlord and tenant might want to form an agreement, where the landlord takes the tenant's stuff under certain circumstances (for example, "if you don't pay your rent, I get your motorcycle"). If everyone agrees to this, it has to be in the NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION.
What exactly is a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION?
- A NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION must be on a separate piece of paper from the lease.
- That piece of paper must be entitled "NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS."
- There must be evidence of separate negotiation. This means that each NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION must be initialed, in order to be upholdable.
- Some NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONs must be separately discussed - any changes to Landlord Entry and Liens by the landlord must be discussed. All other provisions on a sheet of NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONs do not have to be discussed. (One of these things is not like the other...)
If these rules aren't followed, it is likely that the provisions would then not be enforceable by the landlord.
What laws make us think these things, you ask? (Be still my beating heart). They are:
- ATCP 134.06(3)b & Wis. Stat. 704.28(2) deal with Security Deposits & NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS
- ATCP 134.09 deals with Liens and Landlord Entry & NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS
- 2013 Wisconsin Act 76, Sect. 20, removed the "discussion" from NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISIONS that have to do with security deposits - it changes Wis. Stat. 704.28 (link above).
Hi! Did you know that we aren't attorneys here at the TRC? And this isn't legal advice, either. If what we've written doesn't sound right to you, consult with someone you trust. A list of housing attorneys is available here.