As I hope most of you are aware, Wisconsin passed a new law that will great affect landlord-tenant law – Act 76. Whenever the law is changed, there is usually a need to revise and/or update your rental documents to comply with the law. That is definitely the case with the changes from Act 76.
As such, I have had to update many of the rental documents that are sold at Wisconsin Legal Blank.
The new law becomes effective March 1, 2014. So for those of you that use the WLB forms you will want to use these revised forms for any new tenancies that commence on or after March 1, 2014.
The following Wisconsin Legal Blank forms have been revised:
1. Residential Rental Agreement (#19)
The changes made to this form are very important. As of March 1, 2014, it will be required that all residential rental agreements include certain language that provides notice of domestic abuse protections. Act 76 states that a rental agreement will be void and unenforceable if it allows a landlord to terminate a tenancy for a crime and the rental agreement fails to include the domestic violence notice language. As a result of having to add this additional language verbatim the Residential Rental Agreement form will be much longer.
Several other changes and modifications were made to this form as well including:
a. Revision of the “Extermination Costs” section
b. Addition of a “Non-Waiver” section
c. Addition of a “Criminal Activity Prohibited” section
d. The “Notice to Vacate” section was modified to clarify the law better regarding terminating a lease for term. The 30 day notice required to terminate a month to month tenancy was changed to 28 days to coincide with Wisconsin statutes.
e. The “Abandoned Property” section was modified to comply with the law changes in Act 76
f. Additional language was added to clarify that operating a business or providing child care services are not allowed in the rental unit.
g. Additional language was added in the section entitled “Security Deposit” to state that if the repair costs for tenant damages are not known in time for the sending of the security deposit transmittal letter that a “good faith” estimate may be used.
f. Clarifying language was added to the “Breach and Termination” section.
2. Residential Lease Renewal or Notice To Vacate (#970) — Was updated to comply with Act 76’s changes regarding abandoned property.
3. Notice of Rent Increase (for Month to Month Tenant) (#332) – Was updated to comply with Act 76’s changes regarding abandoned property.
4. Check-In / Check-Out Sheet (#997 and #993) — Was updated to to comply with Act 76 with regards to the title and the “When To Use” explanation as well as some stylistic changes.
5. Rental Application (#996) – Eliminated some sections that were not needed and could possibly cause problems for landlords, added some additional instructions for applicant, restructured the layout of the form, and reworded much of the language at the bottom of the signature page.
6. Nonstandard Rental Provisions (#984) — Rewrote the “When To Use” section to better explain the purpose of a NSRP document, removed the “Miscellaneous Matters” section of the form, revised the statutory references, and fixed some grammatical issue.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to use updated/revised forms when they become available. I still see landlords using the Residential Rental Agreement that was drafted over 10 years ago. There are important reasons that rental documents are updated: (1) To comply with law changes, (2) To eliminate problem language that has caused landlords problems. Each new version of these forms are supposed to make your life easier. Using old forms is just an invitation for problems. Effective, March 1, 2014, failing to use the revised Residential Rental Agreement may result in your Agreement being declared void and unenforceable.