Repairs in Wisconsin

Who Is Responsible for Repairs?

Landlord Repair Responsibilities

  • Keep heating, plumbing, electrical system, and building structure in good condition. Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)(a) (More about Heat here).
  • Keep common areas such as hallways, storage areas, laundry rooms, parking lots, and yards in good condition. Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)(a)1
  • Maintain all supplied equipment, including all appliances. Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)(a)2
  • 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. Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)(a)5
  • Provide a working smoke detector on each floor including the basement. If a tenant gives written notice that the smoke detector is not working, the landlord must fix it within five days. Wis. Stat. 101.145
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors in all new and most existing residential buildings. Wis. Stat. 101.149

Tenant Repair Responsibilities

  • Perform minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(b)
  • Keep the apartment in a safe, sanitary condition.
  • Keep working batteries in smoke detectors and give written notice to the landlord if smoke detectors are not working properly. Wis. Stat. 101.145
  • Comply with all local housing codes. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(c)
  • Keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature to prevent freezing of pipes and other equipment.
  • Repair, or pay the landlord to repair, all damages caused by the tenant and their guests. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(a)
  • NOTE: Whenever repairs are needed because of the tenant's action or inaction, the landlord can charge a "reasonable hourly rate" for their time, materials ,and time spent purchasing or providing materials, supervising their staff or agents, and hiring a third-party contractor. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(a), 2017 Wis. Act 317, Secs. 37 & 38, Effective 4/18/18.

2013 Wis. Act 76 includes language about pest control. This does not mean the tenant automatically has to pay for pest control (like bedbugs) but it does say that they have to pay if the pests were caused by "actions or inactions" of the tenant or their guests. The landlord still has to repair the problem, regardless of whoever ends up paying for it. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(a), 2013 Wis. Act 76, Sec. 12, Effective 3/1/14.

Getting Repairs Done

Step 1

Make a List. Before contacting the landlord, make a list of the repair problems that need to be fixed.

Step 2

Contact the Landlord and Start a Paper Trail. Be sure to tell the landlord as soon as there is a problem. Some repair issues will get worse if not fixed right away, and the tenant may be considered responsible. Give the landlord the list of the needed repairs and a reasonable time limit to do the work. (This should be based on how urgent the issue is to you and how long it might take to repair.) If you speak in person or on the phone, be sure to follow up right away with a letter, e-mail, or text saying what you talked about and keep copies of everything.

Step 3

Put it in Writing. Start keeping a log of all calls, including the times and dates of calls, who you talked to, and what you requested. This is important for three reasons:

  1. Landlords often take things more seriously when they're put in writing, and might make the repairs faster.
  2. It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for asserting their rights (including when requesting repairs). In order to protect yourself, you need proof of the request.
  3. If the problem gets worse because the landlord won't fix it, you shouldn't be charged for the extra damage. Just like retaliation, to protect yourself, you need to have proof of when you reported the repair and how bad it was at the beginning.

Step 4

Get Serious. If your landlord does not contact you or make repairs quickly enough, write a letter, text or e-mail with a new deadline, and tell them you will take further action (see below) if they don't meet it. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself!

NOTE: Don't Ignore Emergencies! For some urgent problems, such as no heat or a broken lock on the main door, you might choose to contact Building Inspection immediately, and not go through the steps of writing letters if the landlord is not responding to initial phone calls. If you smell gas, leave the house immediately and then call your utility company!

Step 5

Call the Building Inspector. If the landlord still won't make the necessary repairs, call your local Building Inspector. Building Inspection can order the landlord to fix certain problems, such as lack of heat or hot water, a pest infestation, water damage, mold, but not cosmetic things such as faded paint or stained carpeting. The Building Inspector will order the landlord to make the repairs by a deadline and will come back to see that the repairs are complete. See our list of Local Building Inspectors (below) in order to contact your building inspector.

If you live in an area that has no building inspector and if there are major safety hazards in your apartment, such as faulty wiring or a pest infestation, you can try calling a fire department, public health inspector, or the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Sometimes they are able to visit a home that is in need of repairs and sometimes they are able to persuade the landlord to take more significant action.

Step 6

Option A: Rent Abatement (Outside of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Wausau, Madison, and Fitchburg)

Rent abatement is a partial rent credit when the landlord won't fix an issue that "materially affects the health or safety of the tenant" or "substantially affects the use or occupancy" of the unit. Wis. Stat. 704.07(3)(a), 2017 Wis. Act 317, Secs. 37 & 38, Effective 4/18/18. It pays you back for the amount of time you couldn't fully use the apartment. (The State of Wisconsin does not have a formal rent abatement process. For Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Wausau, click here.) Rent abatement is allowed under Wisconsin law, but when and how much a tenant can abate their rent is unclear. Wis. Stat. 704.07(4)

NOTE: For the reasons above, abating your own rent puts you at risk for eviction for nonpayment of rent, especially if there is another recommended method. If you live in Kenosha, Milwaukee, or Wausau, click here for your local rent abatement procedures.

Here are some way to improve your chances of successfully abating your rent if the building inspector orders repairs and the landlord does not complete them by the deadline, or if your area is not served by a building inspector:

  • Request the Repairs Several Times in Writing Before Abating Rent. Give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. Let them know you may abate your rent under Wis. Stat. 704.07 if they do not respond.
  • Contact Your Local Building Inspector or the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Their report will provide a very important piece of evidence.
  • Deduct a Portion of Your Rent that is Consistent with the Severity of the Repair Problem. To decide how much, you could consult the City of Madison rent abatement percentages as a guide and offer the lower end of the range to show good faith. These are available here (rent abatement is MGO 32.04) or from the Tenant Resource Center.
  • Keep Paying the Rest of Your Rent On Time! Include a note to your landlord with your partial rental payment explaining why you are abating rent.

Option B (Risky): Withhold Rent

Not paying your rent to pressure a landlord into making repairs is extremely risky. You could be evicted for nonpayment of rent unless you can prove to the court that withholding your rent was justified. Because tenant-landlord laws do not authorize tenants to do this, it is never certain that the court will decide in the tenant's favor; instead, the tenant may be evicted. For important information about the eviction process, click here. If nothing else works, here are four ways to improve your chances of successfully withholding rent:

  • Request the Repairs Several Times in Writing Before Withholding Rent. Give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs and give clear deadlines.
  • Put Withheld Rent into an Escrow Account, or Savings Account. Make the deposits on the day your rent is due. Do not spend it! You may need to prove you had the money. Additionally, you may need to prove to a judge that you were withholding rent for the specific purpose of enforcing your rights, and that the money is available if the repairs are completed.
  • Include a Note to Your Landlord with Your Partial Rent Payment and Explain Why You Are Withholding Rent. Make sure to pay your partial rent payment on time and mention that you have the money in an escrow account and that you will pay in full when your landlord has made the necessary repairs. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself!
  • Release the Withheld Rent After Your Landlord Makes the Repairs.

Option C: Move Out Because of Constructive Eviction

Constructive eviction is what tenants may do on very rare occasions when repairs are needed so badly that the rental unit becomes uninhabitable. More information on constructive eviction is available here. To be successful:

  • There must be a severe health or safety hazard;
  • The tenant must give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to repair the problem; and
  • If it is not repaired (or the repair is so extreme that it will impose "undue hardship" on the tenant), the tenant may constructively evict.

Fires and floods are good examples of conditions that may cause someone to constructively evict. Wis. Stat. 704.07(4) Tenants would do this in only the most extreme repair situations, and it involves risk on the part of the tenant. If a tenant can successfully claim constructive eviction, they are no longer responsible under the rental agreement for unpaid rent after they move out and can get back any prepaid rent. If a tenant tries to claim constructive eviction but is not successful, the tenant may be liable for rent to the end of the rental agreement, plus any legal fees; however, the landlord will have to mitigate their damages.

To improve your chances of successfully claiming constructive eviction, carefully document the repair problems, your requests to the landlord, and the overall condition of the rental unit. Send your landlord notice in writing that you are leaving because the rental unit has become uninhabitable. Keep track of all the expenses you must pay because you had to leave (motels, eating out, etc.). Even if a court eventually decides that you were not constructively evicted by the repair issue, the landlord still has a duty to try to find a new tenant for your old rental unit (just like if you had broken your lease).

Under state statute, a tenant cannot go to court and ask for permission to constructively evict, instead it is used as a defense if the tenant moves, and the landlord sues the tenant for unpaid rent. This is why it is extremely important to document all the actions you take if you are going to constructively evict yourself from the apartment.

Step 7

Call Consumer Protection. Consumer Protection laws require landlords to follow through on repair promises. If your landlord made a written or verbal promise to make a repair but has not followed through, you may file a complaint with Consumer Protection by calling (800) 422-7128. If the landlord never made the promise in writing, then you should send the agency copies of your letters to the landlord and mention the landlord's verbal promise. Your letters may be good evidence, especially if the landlord never wrote back to deny the promise was made. For more information on how to get things in writing from your landlord, visit our Get It In Writing page. ATCP 134.07

Landlord Entry

A landlord must give the tenant a 12-hour notice before entering to make a repair unless it is an emergency (like a pipe bursting). You can agree to let your landlord enter sooner than that to make the repairs more quickly, but the landlord still needs to give proper notice the next time. In some cases, tenants may have signed a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION that lets the landlord enter with less notice. Check your lease for any such clauses. For more information, see Landlord Entry. ATCP 134.09(2)

NOTE: New laws make it clear that landlords can give this notice in an e-mail or text message. Wis. Stat. 704.10(4), 2017 Wis. Act 317, Sec. 42, Effective 4/18/18.

Avoiding Problems Before Signing a Lease

There are several things tenants can do before signing a lease to minimize the chances of future repair problems. See our page Preparing to Rent for more information on how tenants can protect themselves before signing a lease.

  • Before entering into a rental agreement or accepting earnest money, the landlord must tell the tenant about documented, uncorrected building code violations that they have actual knowledge of and which are a significant threat to the prospective tenant's health or safety. ATCP 134.04(2)(a), Wis. Stat. 66.0104(2)(d)1, 2013 Wis. Act 76, Sec. 2, Eff. 3/31/12 and 11/1/15.
  • Before entering into a rental agreement or accepting earnest money, the landlord must also tell the tenant about any conditions affecting habitability which they know about, or could have known about based on a reasonable inspection. These include any lack of: hot or cold running water, safe electrical system, sewage disposal, heating systems unable to reach 67°F in all living areas in all seasons, and all other likely health or safety hazards. ATCP 134.04(2)(b), MGO 32.08(2)(a), FO 72-108(2)a
  • Call the local Building Inspector to check if there are any current building code violations or citations on the property. (See our list at the bottom of this page.)
  • Before the rental agreement is signed, the landlord must put any promises to repair in writing, with specific deadlines for each repair. ATCP 134.07
  • Call Consumer Protection at (608) 224-4953 or (800) 422-7128 to check if there have been any complaints filed against your prospective landlord.
  • Inspect the rental unit you are considering, taking notice of repairs and improvements that need to be made.
  • Negotiate with your prospective landlord about what repairs or improvements will be made, and write those into the lease.
  • If your lease has a provision that allows the landlord to not provide the premises in a habitable condition or maintain the property, this is not enforceable, and you could break your lease if you needed to. These provisions make your lease "void and unenforceable." Wis. Stat. 704.44(8), 2011 Wis. Act 143, Sec. 35 Eff. 3/31/12. ATCP 134.08(8), CR 14-038, Sec. 11, Eff. 11/1/15. For more information and other reasons a lease may become void and unenforceable, see Ending Your Lease.
  • Contact the Tenant Resource Center to ask questions about items in your lease.

Avoiding Problems While Moving In

Document All Repair Problems Carefully. Fill out your check-in form, keep a copy, and return a copy to your landlord. Filling in your check-in form is the best way to prove the condition of the apartment at move- in if the landlord tries to make deductions from your security deposit for damages that were already there. If you didn’t get a check-in form from your landlord, make your own or use our sample check-in form. State law, Wis. Stat. 704.08, says you'll be given 7 days from when you move in to complete the check-in form and return it to the landlord. ATCP 134.06 states that the tenant should turn in their completed check-in form to the landlord by a specified date that’s at least 7 days from when you move in. Failure to meet the landlord’s deadline does not in any way negate the information on the form. Effective 3/31/12. The landlord can send all documents and forms related to the security deposit in an e-mail or text message. Wis. Stat. 704.10(2), 2017 Wis. Act 317, Sec. 42, Effective 4/18/18.The landlord is required to let you know in writing that you can get a list of the deductions from the previous tenant's security deposit. ATCP 134.06(1)(a)2 If requested, the landlord must provide this within 30 days, or within 7 days after they return the previous tenant's security deposit, whichever is later. ATCP 134.06(1)(b) This list may be helpful in recognizing other repairs that need to be done.

A check-in form is not a request for repairs; it simply documents the condition of the apartment. If you want the landlord to fix certain problems, follow the suggestions in the first section for getting repairs done. For more information, see our sample repair request form.

Useful Phone Numbers

Emergency Utility Numbers

Madison Gas & Electric

(608) 252-7111 or (800) 245-1123

WE Energy

(800) 261-5325

Alliant Energy (Wisconsin Power & Light Co.)

(800) 255-4268

Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

(800) 450-7280 (Gas)

(800) 450-7240 (Electricity)

Xcel Energy

(800) 895-2999 (Gas)

(800) 895-1999 (Electricity)

Building Inspection

If your municipality's building inspector is not listed here, check your phone book or call our toll-free line if outside of Dane County at 877-238-RENT. Tenant Resource Center has the building inspector phone numbers for most cities and towns in Wisconsin.

NOTE: The state building inspection unit at (608) 266-3151 may be able to help tenants in areas not served by municipal inspectors. They have limited enforcement ability and may charge for inspections. If you live in an area without a building inspector, you can also try calling a health or fire inspector.

Other Statewide Resources

Consumer Protection

(608) 224-4953

(800) 422-7128

Asbestos & Lead Section, Department of Health & Family Services

(608) 261-6876

Wisconsin Radon Information Centers

(888) 569-7236

Bat Conservation Corps of Wisconsin

(608) 837-BATS (2287)

Bed Bug Information

TRC Bed Bugs Fact Sheet

AASCW Bed Bugs Information Sheet

Building Inspectors in Wisconsin

Algoma, City 

(920) 487-5203

Algoma, Town 

(920) 233-1999


(715) 497-3458, (715) 302-7456


(715) 623-3633 ext. 134


(920) 832-6411


(715) 685-1609


(608) 355-7323, (608) 963-6152

Bay City 

(715) 262-5777


(262) 346-4577

Beaver Dam 

(920) 877-4600 ext. 340


(920) 468-5525


(608) 364-6700


(920) 210-3125

Big Bend, Village 

(262) 366-2400

Black Earth, Town

(608) 444-0372

Black River Falls

(608) 697-7774


(920) 378-2857


(262) 857-2368


(608) 897-4018 ext. 172,

(444) 639-6314


(262) 796-6646

Brown Deer 

(262) 346-4577

Burke, Town 

(608) 688-0997


(262) 342-1164

Butler, Village 

(262) 783-2525 ext. 1234

Cambellsport, Village

(920) 960-0048

Cedarburg, Town 

(262) 346-4577, (414) 640-9523

Chenequa, Village 

(262) 825-8820

Chilton, City 

(920) 849-9274, (920) 912-0832


(920) 687-1110


(608) 688-0997

Cottage Grove

(608) 697-7779, (608) 745-4070


(414) 769-2208 

Cumberland, City

(715) 556-3136

De Forest 

(608) 846-6751, (608) 697-7771 

Deerfield, Village

(608) 576-6371

Delafield, City 

(262) 490-8222

Delafield, Town 

(262) 202-2173


(920) 339-4053


(920) 905-1974

Eagle, Town 

(262) 894-2982, (262) 346-4575

Eagle, Village 

(262) 366-2400

East Troy 

(262) 352-4433

East Troy, Township

(262) 366-2400

Eau Claire 

(715) 839-4947


(608) 884-3341, (608) 697-7776

El Paso 

(715) 386-5410

Elm Grove 

(262) 782-6700, (262) 346-4575

Elkhorn, City 

(262) 741-5124

Ellsworth, Village

(715) 377-2152 


(715) 377-2152

Emerald, Town 

(480) 261-9014

Farmington, Town 

(262) 692-2039


(608) 778-7162


(608) 270-4240

Fond du Lac 

(920) 322-3570

Fort Atkinson 

(920) 563-7760

Fox Point, Village 

(414) 351-8906


(414) 425-0084

Fredonia, Town 

(262) 692-2039

Fredonia, Village 


Fulton, Town

(608) 697-7776


(262) 968-3656

Germantown, Village 

(262) 346-4460

Glendale, City

(414) 228-1708

Grafton, Town 

(414) 651-0021, (262) 377-8500

Grafton, Village 

(262) 375-5305

Grand Chute 

(920) 832-1599

Green Bay 

(920) 448-3300,

After hours: (920) 492-3735 


(414) 423-2100


(414) 329-5334

Hales Corners 

(414) 423-2100 ext. 3107,

(414) 529-6162 

Harrison, Town 

(920) 989-2924

Hartford, City 

(262) 673-8277


(262) 490-8222

Hartland, Town 

(920) 428-3331


(715) 387-4222


(608) 697-7807

Hobart, Village 

(920) 869-3809


(920) 382-6202

Howard, Village 

(920) 434-4640

Hudson, City 

(715) 716-5722

Hudson, Town 

(715) 386-5410

Hustisford, Town 

(608) 697-3737

Jackson, Village 

(262) 677-9696


(608) 755-3060


(920) 674-7727


(920) 382-6202


(920) 766-6325

Kendall, Village 

(608) 463-7124


(262) 653-4263


(920) 495-3232


(608) 799-6229


(920) 788-7507

La Crosse 

(608) 789-7564


(715) 532-2603

Lake Geneva

(262) 249-4090

Lake Mills 

(920) 648-2344, (920) 675-9062


(608) 723-4246 ext. 5,

(608) 617-1216

Lavalle, Town 

(608) 697-7778


(920) 849-9274, (920) 912-0832


(262) 275-6300 ext. 13, 

(262) 215-3711

Lisbon, Town 

(262) 844-1594

Little Chute 

(920) 423-3871 


(608) 592-0710, (608) 688-0997

Madison, City & Town 

(608) 266-4551

Maiden Rock, Town 

(715) 377-2152

Maiden Rock, Village 

(715) 262-5777


(920) 686-6940


(715) 732-5128, (715) 732-5127 


(920) 210-3125


(920) 398-3031, (608) 745-4070


(608) 655-4017 ext. 225,

(608) 576-6371


(715) 486-2018


(715) 377-2152


(608) 745-4070, (608) 747-2707  


(920) 387-7900 ext. 1209,

(920) 382-6202

Mazomanie, Village

(608) 444-0372


(608) 838-3154

Medford, City 

(715) 748-4321

Menasha, City

(920) 967-3655


(715) 232-2221 opt. 3

Menomonee Falls, Village 

(262) 532-4282


(262) 236-2930


(715) 536-4880


(608) 617-9869

Merton, Town 

(262) 966-2469

Merton, Village 

(262) 538-0820, (262) 538-1558


(608) 697-7776


(414) 286-2268

Minong, Town 

(715) 634-7161

Minong, Village

(715) 466-2266


(715) 926-3866

Monroe, City 

(608) 329-2518


(920) 410-6756

Mosinee, City

(608) 445-6558

Mt. Horeb

(608) 437-9416

Mukwonago, Town

(262) 352-4433, (262) 366-2400

Mukwonago, Village 

(262) 363-6419


(262) 679-4037, (262) 679-4145


(920) 866-6130


(715) 743-5678

New Berlin

(262) 797-2445


(262) 675-0909

New Glarus, Town

(608) 963-0652

New Glarus, Village

(608) 963-0652

New Holstein

(920) 901-0288

New London 

(920) 250-5612

New Richmond

(715) 246-4268

North Fond du Lac 

(920) 929-3765

Oak Creek

(414) 766-7000

Oak Grove, Township

(715) 377-2152

Oconomowoc, City 

(262) 569-2195

Oconomowoc Lake, Village

(262) 490-0513


(920) 685-6755, (920) 410-6756  


(608) 781-9541


(920) 946-4270

Oregon, Town

(608) 576-1434, (608) 688-0997

Oregon, Village 

(608) 576-1434, (608) 688-0997


(608) 879-2004


(920) 236-5137, (920) 236-5050


(262) 965-3231


(920) 655-1735

Pewaukee, City & Village

(262) 691-9107


(608) 348-9741 ext. 2236

Pleasant Springs 

(608) 445-9715


(715) 345-5312

Port Washington 

(262) 268-4277

Prescott, City 

(715) 377-2152


(608) 617-2039

Poynette, Village 

(608) 697-8009

Prairie du Sac, Village 

(608) 697-7778

Racine, City 

(262) 636-9464

Randolph, Village 

(608) 697-8009


(608) 768-3354, (608) 415-0855


(920) 356-9447


(715) 365-8600

Rib Mountain 

(715) 842-0983

Rice Lake 

(715) 296-8866


(262) 628-2260 ext. 117 (Joe)

or ext. 125 (Greg)

Richland Center 

(608) 444-0372

River Falls, City 

(715) 426-3426

River Falls, Town 

(715) 377-2152


(715) 377-2152

Rochester, Village 

(262) 424-6957


(715) 347-7866

Salem Lakes, Village

(262) 843-2313 ext. 5710,

(262) 749-9111

Scott, Town

(Brown County) 

(920) 406-9380

Scott, Town

(Sheboygan County)

(262) 675-0909


(262) 903-4221


North: (920) 459-3481,

South: (920) 459-3480


(608) 780-4672

Shorewood, Village

(414) 847-2640, (414) 847-2641

Shorewood Hills, Village 

(608) 235-7010

Sister Bay 

(920) 495-3232


(262) 644-5265 ext. 107

South Milwaukee 

(414) 768-8054


(608) 269-6509 opt. 3


(715) 635-8769

Spring Green 

(608) 444-0372

Spring Valley 

(608) 289-2628

St. Francis, City 

(414) 316-4311

St. Joseph 

(715) 377-2152

St. Nazianz 

(920) 726-4583, (920) 973-5270


(715) 245-1708

Stevens Point 

(715) 346-1567


(608) 873-7626, (608) 577-1893

Sturgeon Bay 

(920) 495-1863


(262) 886-7201, (262) 346-4575


(920) 434-2212


(920) 675-9062

Sun Prairie 

(608) 825-1184


(715) 395-7288


(262) 246-5212


(414) 640-9523, (262) 242-3720


(715) 526-2380, (715) 250-3233


(608) 374-7429

Trenton, Town

(262) 675-0415, (262) 675-0909

Two Rivers

(920) 793-5566

Union Grove

(262) 210-1741

Union, Town

(608) 882-6267


(262) 366-2400


(608) 845-0963


(608) 697-7771


(262) 534-9236, (262) 424-6957


(608) 576-6371, (608) 688-0997


(920) 262-4062, (920) 262-4060

Watertown, Town

(262) 490-0277

Waukesha, City

(262) 524-3748, (262) 524-3533,

(262) 524-3534

Waukesha, Village

(262) 490-8270


(608) 849-5613


(715) 942-9908


(920) 229-6360


(715) 261-6780


(920) 787-6510


(414) 479-8907, (414) 479-8981

Wayne, Town

(262) 629-1774

West Allis

(414) 302-8400

West Bend, City

(262) 335-5140

West Bend, Town

(262) 675-0909


(715) 359-6114

Whitefish Bay

(414) 962-6690


(920) 675-9062

Williams Bay

(262) 245-2704


(920) 946-7844


(608) 697-7771


(920) 410-6756, (920) 582-4381

Wisconsin Dells

(608) 253-2542 ext. 414

Wisconsin Rapids

 (715) 421-8226, (715) 421-8227


(920) 378-2857


(608) 963-0652