2015 Act 176, which went into effect on March 2, 2016, makes significant changes to landlord-tenant law in the State of Wisconsin. One of the most significant changes will make it less difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant who the landlord believes is engaging in criminal and/or drug-related activity. In those circumstances, a landlord will now be able to serve the offending tenant with a non-curable 5 day notice to vacate regardless of what type of lease that tenant is under.
In the past, if a tenant was under a specified lease term, a landlord had to start with a curable 5 day notice. Then, assuming the tenant did not get caught breaking the law again within the 5 days, a landlord could graduate to a non-curable 14 day notice. In our experience, this led to a lot of confusion, was very difficult for landlords to manage, and it caused a great deal of frustration on both sides. More notices generally means more opportunity for technical mistakes in the drafting or service of the notice. And, if there was an error in the drafting or serving of the original 5 day notice, it could undermine the validity of the subsequent 14 day notice, and any eviction based on that 14 day notice That infuriating situation will be much less common moving forward.
Keep in mind that, regardless of these changes, the 5 day notice only terminates the tenancy on paper. To enforce the termination, a landlord will still have to file an eviction action in small claims court, and the tenant will still have the opportunity to challenge the merits and service of the non-curable 5 day notice. So, as always, careful documentation of the problem is critical.
To read more about this subject, see the article below, as well as Attorney Tristan Pettit’s excellent blog post on the subject.