Alex Ackerman
March 22, 2017
Landlord/Tenant Laws

Lease-Agreement

When it comes to residential lease agreements, there are many variables that can change from lease to lease.  One of these changing variables may be the length or duration of the lease agreement.  While just defining the length of a lease itself is important, the length of the lease also has an important impact on the landlord-tenant relationship.  Namely, if the relationship turns sour because the tenant is not paying rent and an eviction notice is needed, the length of the lease agreement will affect the eviction requirements of the landlord.

Lease Agreement Lengths

Essentially there are three length options which govern termination of tenancy for a tenant’s failure to pay rent and/or other breaches by tenants:

  1. Month-to-month or week-to-week tenancies;
  2. Tenancies under one year or less or year-to-year tenancies; and
  3. Tenancies for more than one year.

The notice provisions for terminating tenancies for failure to pay rent and/or other breaches by tenants for the above-referenced lengths are governed by Wis. Stat. § 704.17.

Giving an Eviction Notice Based on Lease Length

Proper notice pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 704.17 is especially important if an eviction notice is filed against a tenant.  Improper notice may be grounds to dismiss an eviction action and can cause unnecessary delays in the eviction of a tenant and collection of lost rental payments.  Therefore, when serving an eviction notice to terminate tenancy for failure to pay rent and/or other breaches, landlords should pay special attention to these specific statutory provisions:

Month-to-month: “If a month-to-month tenant or a week-to-week tenant fails to pay rent when due, the tenant’s tenancy is terminated if the landlord gives the tenant notice requiring the tenant to pay rent or vacate on or before a date at least 5 days after the giving of the notice and if the tenant fails to pay accordingly. A month-to-month tenancy is terminated if the landlord, while the tenant is in default in payment of rent, gives the tenant notice requiring the tenant to vacate on or before a date at least 14 days after the giving of the notice.”  Wis. Stat. § 704.17(1)(a).

Year-to-Year: “If a tenant under a lease agreement for a term of one year or less, or a year-to-year tenant, fails to pay any installment of rent when due, the tenant’s tenancy is terminated if the landlord gives the tenant notice requiring the tenant to pay rent or vacate on or before a date at least 5 days after the giving of the notice and if the tenant fails to pay accordingly. If a tenant has been given such a notice and has paid the rent on or before the specified date, or been permitted by the landlord to remain in possession contrary to such notice, and if within one year of any prior default in payment of rent for which notice was given the tenant fails to pay a subsequent installment of rent on time, the tenant’s tenancy is terminated if the landlord, while the tenant is in default in payment of rent, gives the tenant notice to vacate on or before a date at least 14 days after the giving of the notice.” Wis. Stat. § 704.17(2)(a).

Over a year: “If a tenant under a lease agreement for more than one year fails to pay rent when due, or commits waste, or breaches any other covenant or condition of the tenant’s lease, the tenancy is terminated if the landlord gives the tenant notice requiring the tenant to pay the rent, repair the waste, or otherwise comply with the lease on or before a date at least 30 days after the giving of the notice, and if the tenant fails to comply with the notice. A tenant is deemed to be complying with the notice if promptly upon receipt of the notice the tenant takes reasonable steps to remedy the default and proceeds with reasonable diligence, or if damages are adequate protection for the landlord and the tenant makes a bona fide and reasonable offer to pay the landlord all damages for the tenant’s breach; but in case of failure to pay rent, all rent due must be paid on or before the date specified in the notice.” Wis. Stat. § 704.17(3)(a).

The above-referenced notice guidelines are a good starting point to ensure you are in compliance with the proper eviction notice procedures depending on your lease agreement length.  If you would like assistance with the finer points of noticing tenants during an eviction, please contact one of our Green Bay landlord attorneys today at (920) 499-5700.

 

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