Renters Education

Renters Education

IN ALL CASES – WI Law – If you do not Pay rent and You do Not Vacate by expiration on notice – In absence of greater proof your Landlord shall recover as minimum damages TWICE the rental value apportioned on a daily basis for the time the tenant remains in possession. 
All Leases 12 months:
  • 5 Day Notice to Pay Rent or VACATE 

if full rent is unpaid by 5th. This notice is issued on the 6th. Gives tenant 5 days to pay or tenants must surrender unit on or before 5th day.  If they do neither: The Landlord can file a formal eviction in court. Typically court date will be in 2 weeks or less. Court can also add the court and attorney fees to tenant typically around $600. Eviction stays on record for apx 7 years, making it difficult for the tenant to find another rental. ONLY ONE 5 Day Notice to pay rent or vacate may be issued in a 12 month period, otherwise Landlords can enact a 14 day Notice to VACATE. 

**In all cases the rent missed will still be due. All months remaining on your lease agreement including tenant paid utilities will still be due unless landlord can rent the unit sooner. If Landlord can rent the unit sooner, Tenant will pay the re-rental fee. (Typically = to one months rent plus all prior un-rented months)

  • 14 Day Notice

This notice is given to any tenant who prior received a 5 Day Pay or Vacate Notice in last 12 months.  This notice does NOT give tenant ANY opportunity to Pay and Stay, rather, the Notice end the Lease and tenant must vacate in 14 Days. If Tenant does not vacate,  Landlord can file a formal eviction in court. Typically court date will be in 2 weeks or less. Court can also add the court and attorney fees to tenant typically around $600. Eviction stays on record for 7 years, making it difficult for the tenant to find another rental.

**In all cases the rent missed will still be due. All months remaining on your lease agreement including tenant paid utilities will still be due unless landlord can rent the unit sooner. If Landlord can rent the unit sooner, Tenant will pay the re-rental fee. (Typically = to one months rent plus all prior un-rented months)

Vacate = Surrender of unit.
Proper Surrender is turning in your keys to landlord. 
  • 5 Day Notice if Nuisance or Illegal Activity

This Notice ends your Lease agreement. You must vacate in 5 Days. If you do not Vacate, Landlord can file a formal eviction in court. Typically court date will be in 2 weeks or less. Court can also add the court and attorney fees to tenant typically around $600. Eviction stays on record for 7 years, making it difficult for the tenant to find another rental. 

** RENT ASSISTANCE BENEFITS: If you receive rent assistance benefits and you do not pay your portion of rent and you receive one of these notices, you are at risk of losing your housing benefits. A copy of any Eviction notice must be filed with your case worker. 
**In all cases the rent missed will still be due. All months remaining on your lease agreement including tenant paid utilities will still be due unless landlord can rent the unit sooner. If Landlord can rent the unit sooner, Tenant will pay the re-rental fee. (Typically = to one months rent plus all prior un-rented months)
A Full 30 or 60 day written, signed notice is required to end your lease at end of term. (Consult with the exact terms of your Lease) 
 —-      Notice must be given prior to the 1st of any month. ——-
If Lessee vacates the unit prior to the end of this lease, Lessee will be responsible for re-renting and marketing fees, rents, late fees, collection fees, utility bills that will be incurred and any other legally enforceable charges and fees per this agreement through the end of the lease period, or until the unit is re-rented to a Lessee approved and qualified by Lessor, whichever is sooner. Re-renting fees are equal to one months rent plus other fees may apply. Move out’s and notices to move out may not allowed between November 1 through February 28 of any year. (Consult with the exact terms of your Lease) 

 Surrender of premises  


Tenants in Single family homes as well as Multi family homes are required to maintain their interior and exterior Common areas, Mail box areas, Hallways, Basements, Laundry and including Yard and Trash areas.

Tenants are responsible to pick up scattered or blown in trash in yards and around garbage areas in all buildings. 
If illegal dumping occurs – Tenants are obligated to report to Landlord or Manager.
RECYCLE- City of Milwaukee requires you to recycle in designated area or cans provided to you. There are rules on what may/may not be recycled and you can find them online on your city website. You may not Mix Regular garbage with Recycled garbage at anytime. There is a fine if this occurs.
Garbage / Cans / Bins / Carts/ Dumpsters – No recycles are allowed in Regular garbage Carts. No Loose garbage may be placed in Carts or Dumpsters. All garbage must be bagged. No garbage at anytime OUTSIDE of carts or dumpsters. This is considered illegal dumping. Illegal dumping is punishable by the City of up to $5,000 and if you see someone illegal dumping the city will reward you up to $1000 for reporting. 
Bulk Items:  In buildings with 3 units or less you may call your manager or landlord to request free special pick up of under 1 cubic yard or less. (Typically the size of 1 large chair) For buildings of 4 or more units or items over 1 cubic yard  – Please google your local garbage dump for hours and Locations of drop off. You will need to remove these items from the property. If you leave them onsite – This is considered Illegal Dumping. 
Landlord or Manager may or may not visit your unit for a physical inspection. If they do they will give you the required notice to enter. 
Typically 12 hours.

It is VITAL the tenant report ANY issues with the unit or Building within 7 days after move in. Tenants could be billed for any unreported damaged at time of move out or when discovered. It is VITAL and Required that tenants report any issues with the unit or Building as they occur to make Landlord or Manager aware. If unreported – tenants may be billed. Further damages could result as a result of not reporting.
Tenants are required to keep their units/buildings in clean and tidy condition at all times. 

TENANT MAINTENANCE:  Tenants may be responsible for some light maintenance such as tightening a door knob, a loose plumbing fixture, batteries in co2/smoke detectors, keeping carpets, units, common areas clean and especially changing furnace filters to promote good air quality to you as a tenant but also to avoid damaging the furnace which could result in charges to tenant. 

 RENTERS INSURANCE:  Always recommended. Sometimes Required. Check your Lease Agreement.  Residents can typically purchase independently or through your manager for a low cost of under $10/mo. If any of your belongings are damaged or stolen during your tenancy, your Landlord or manager do not cover any damages. If Renters insurance is required upon renting, if not supplied, Landlord may initiate a policy that you pay for that only covers the the landlords interest in the premises. 

Whether you have to relocate for a job, take on a roommate or move for any other reason, breaking a lease should be done with proper care and planning.

There are a number of valid reasons for renters to decide to break an apartment lease, but no matter the reason, it’s always a difficult situation for both the landlord and the tenant. Whether you have to relocate for a job, take on a roommate, or move for any other reason, breaking a lease should be done with proper care and planning.

A lease is a binding legal contract between the tenant(s) (lessee) and the landlord (lessor). Although a rental agreement essentially allows you to make payments on a monthly basis (rather than upfront), it doesn’t constitute a month-to-month arrangement.

Depending on your reasons, your landlord may be sympathetic and not penalize you. At worst, however, breaking a rental contract could have serious consequences. If you break a lease without legal grounds to do so, you may:

  • Be required to pay the rent for the remaining months on your lease
  • Be subject to legal action from your landlord; and/or
  • Receive a negative mark on your credit report

To protect yourself, it’s important to understand the steps involved in properly breaking an apartment lease so it has the fewest negative consequences for both you and your landlord.

Here are the important steps and considerations when you need to break a lease:

Read Your Rental Agreement

The very first step to take when you’re considering breaking lease is to thoroughly read the rental agreement you signed upon moving in. Read through each section to see if any include information about how to break a lease or what the penalties are. Look for words like “early release,” “sublet” and “relet,” and when you find them, take note of the page number so you can read through it again later if you need to.

The lease agreement may indicate that you have to give notice of your intention to vacate the apartment one or two months in advance or that you have to find a replacement renter. Many leases will also have an option for terminating the agreement immediately, but they often come with hefty fees and you may lose your security deposit on top of that.

Talk to Your Landlord

The landlord-tenant relationship can be tricky, but open communication and total transparency are the best ways to handle a touchy situation like leaving before the lease term is up. In fact, I’ve almost had to break a lease twice before, and the first thing I did each time was email my landlord and building manager– they appreciated knowing what was going on ahead of time and were even able to offer some solutions.

Your landlord is a business person, but they’re a human being too, so if you’re honest about what’s going on, they might be understanding (of course, there’s always a chance they may not be). But if you’re a responsible renter and have a good relationship with your landlord, the process of breaking an apartment lease might go pretty smoothly.

To stay on good terms, give your landlord as much notice as possible. If you need to break lease immediately and cannot give the standard amount of notice specified in your rental agreement, offer to find someone to sublet from you.

Find a New Renter

In many states, both you and your landlord are required to try to find a new renter to replace you if you move out early. In legal terms, this is known as “mitigating the damages” from breaking an apartment lease– in other words, lessening the rent amount still owed for the remaining months.

There are two possible scenarios for finding a new renter: Subletting and re-renting. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Subletting: Subletting is when you or your landlord find someone who’s willing to take over your current lease. While they’ll likely sign their own sublease agreement, the lease will still be under your name, making you legally responsible if they smash a hole in the wall or forget to pay rent for a few months. You won’t get your security deposit back until the end of the original lease term, even if you find a subletter, so keep that in mind.
  • Re-renting: Re-renting involves finding a new tenant for the unit, but unlike subletting, they will sign a brand new lease agreement and pay their own security deposit. For the landlord, this often means re-listing your unit and showing the property to interested renters.

If your landlord isn’t able to find a new renter quickly, you may be required to pay for the days the unit remains vacant. Renting your apartment isn’t the landlord’s number one priority, so finding a renter to replace you may help speed things along. Remember, your landlord doesn’t have to go with the first person who wants to sublet or re-rent your apartment. There are a number of things that might keep a landlord from deciding to rent to an applicant, including credit score, rental history, availability of funds and more.

In some states, both you and your landlord are legally responsible for trying to find a new renter. However, since you stand to lose a lot of money if you can’t find one, it’s a good idea to put in a lot of effort from the beginning. Check with your friends or post a Facebook status to see if anyone you know is looking for a place to live!

Consider Termination Offers

If you’re unable to take the time to find a new renter or you’re in a situation where you need to leave the apartment immediately, you may need to consider the termination offer detailed in your lease. Breaking lease agreements often requires paying two or three months’ rent and forfeiting your security deposit altogether, though every lease will be different.

Again, it’s a good idea to check in with your landlord at this point, because there’s always a chance they’ll reduce the fees involved or return your security deposit, even if the lease says they won’t.

Remember that this situation may be difficult for you, but it’s also a huge financial burden on your landlord who’s depending on your rent money each month as a substantial part of their income. A good landlord-tenant relationship can go a long way toward making the situation more bearable for both parties, so make sure you’re staying positive and patient.

Be Prepared to Pay

Breaking a lease is not cheap for you or your landlord, so be prepared to shell out at least some money. If you don’t pay to terminate your lease immediately, depending on where you live, you’re responsible for paying your rent up until the time you or your landlord finds a subletter or re-renter.

In many states, if your landlord makes an effort to find a new renter and can’t, you’ll have to continue paying the rent until your lease term is up. Even if your landlord is able to find a renter but can’t charge them as much as they charged you, you may be liable for paying the difference.

Get Everything in Writing

From the very first conversation you have with your landlord about potentially breaking your lease, it’s important to get everything in writing– especially any conversations regarding money. This will protect both of you legally if for any reason the situation becomes litigious.

The best way to manage this is to make sure your conversations are over email. If you do have any conversations over the phone or in person, be sure to take notes. When the conversation is finished, shoot your landlord an email of what you covered during the conversation, and get their written confirmation that what you sent is correct.

Just send a simple note that says, “Hello, just wanted to make sure I understood our conversation points correctly– can you confirm this is what we agreed on?”

Seek Legal Advice

If you feel you’re in a situation where your landlord is taking advantage of you, you can prove your apartment is unlivable or you’re being charged too much, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice.

Know the Exceptions

Every state has different laws when it comes to breaking lease agreements, but there are several that allow a tenant to leave their apartment before the lease term is up if there are special circumstances involved. Some of the most common reasons you may be legally allowed to break a lease without consequences include:

Landlord fails to maintain the property

In most states, landlords are required to maintain a fit and habitable property in the following ways:

  • Providing running water at all times
  • Performing repairs
  • Adhering to Health and Safety Codes
  • Keeping all common areas clean
  • Providing proper trash bins

If a tenant believes that there is a significant health or safety violation, they can either make a complaint with their local Department of Public Health, or can attempt to complain to their landlord directly.

  • Complain to the Department of Public Health: Contact your local Department of Public Health and Safety to file a complaint against your landlord. They will open a claim and send someone out to inspect the issue. If they are able to confirm your complaint, they will send notice to your landlord requiring him/her to address and fix the problem within a certain amount of days, which varies by state. Make sure to check your local statutes.
  • Complain to Landlord: Most states require landlords to fix a significant health or safety violation within a certain amount of time, with a promise to follow up in the case that the landlord doesn’t comply. In that case, a tenant may be able to legally break their lease. Typically, the tenant is required to provide to their landlord – in writing – some form of a Notice of Intent to Vacate. Depending on state laws, a tenant has to wait a certain number of days after their notice to vacate has been received before they can move out, unless the violation is incredibly severe and detrimental to the residents’ health.

Tenant Resource Center of Wisconsin

Our Residents are important to us. Many of these topics you may already know and understand.

We wanted to address the most commonly asked questions here as a place Residents can come to find answers.

The above link for the Tenant resource Center of WI may help you find any more answers you are looking for.

We are here anytime to answer all of your questions!

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