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Legal Information: Wisconsin

Statutes: Wisconsin

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Updated: 
July 16, 2020

704.16. Termination of tenancy for imminent threat of serious physical harm; changing locks

(1) Terminating tenancy by tenant. A residential tenant may terminate his or her tenancy and remove from the premises if both of the following apply:

(a) The tenant or a child of the tenant faces an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if the tenant remains on the premises.

(b) The tenant provides the landlord with notice in the manner provided under s. 704.21 and with a certified copy of any of the following:

1. An injunction order under s. 813.12(4) protecting the tenant from the person.

2. An injunction order under s. 813.122 protecting a child of the tenant from the person.

3. An injunction order under s. 813.125(4) protecting the tenant or a child of the tenant from the person, based on the person’s engaging in an act that would constitute sexual assault under s. 940.225, 948.02, or 948.025, or stalking under s. 940.32, or attempting or threatening to do the same.

4. A condition of release under ch. 969 ordering the person not to contact the tenant.

5. A criminal complaint alleging that the person sexually assaulted the tenant or a child of the tenant under s. 940.225, 948.02, or 948.025.

6. A criminal complaint alleging that the person stalked the tenant or a child of the tenant under s. 940.32.

7. A criminal complaint that was filed against the person as a result of the person being arrested for committing a domestic abuse offense against the tenant under s. 968.075.

(2) Not liable for rent. If a residential tenant removes from the premises because of a threat of serious physical harm to the tenant or to a child of the tenant from another person and provides the landlord with a certified copy specified under sub. (1) and with notice that complies with s. 704.21, the tenant shall not be liable for any rent after the end of the month following the month in which he or she provides the notice or removes from the premises, whichever is later. The tenant’s liability for rent under this subsection is subject to the landlord’s duty to mitigate damages as provided in s. 704.29(2).

(3) Termination of tenancy by landlord. (a) In this subsection:

1. “Community” has the meaning given in s. 710.15(1)(ad).

2. “Manufactured home” has the meaning given in s. 101.91(2).

3. “Mobile home” has the meaning given in s. 710.15(1)(b).

4. “Offending tenant” is a tenant whose tenancy is being terminated under this subsection.

(b) A landlord may terminate the tenancy of an offending tenant if all of the following apply:

1. The offending tenant commits one or more acts, including verbal threats, that cause another tenant, or a child of that other tenant, who occupies a dwelling unit in the same single-family rental unit, multiunit dwelling, or apartment complex, or a manufactured home or mobile home in the same community, as the offending tenant to face an imminent threat of serious physical harm from the offending tenant if the offending tenant remains on the premises.

2. The offending tenant is the named offender in any of the following:

a. An injunction order under s. 813.12(4) protecting the other tenant from the offending tenant.

b. An injunction order under s. 813.122 protecting the child of the other tenant from the offending tenant.

c. An injunction order under s. 813.125(4) protecting the other tenant or the child of the other tenant from the offending tenant, based on the offending tenant’s engaging in an act that would constitute sexual assault under s. 940.225, 948.02, or 948.025, or stalking under s. 940.32, or attempting or threatening to do the same.

d. A condition of release under ch. 969 ordering the offending tenant not to contact the other tenant.

e. A criminal complaint alleging that the offending tenant sexually assaulted the other tenant or the child of the other tenant under s. 940.225, 948.02, or 948.025.

f. A criminal complaint alleging that the offending tenant stalked the other tenant or the child of the other tenant under s. 940.32.

g. A criminal complaint that was filed against the offending tenant as a result of the offending tenant being arrested for committing a domestic abuse offense against the other tenant under s. 968.075.

3. The landlord gives the offending tenant written notice that complies with s. 704.21 requiring the offending tenant to vacate on or before a date that is at least 5 days after the giving of the notice. The notice shall state the basis for its issuance and the right of the offending tenant to contest the termination of tenancy in an eviction action under ch. 799. If the offending tenant contests the termination of tenancy, the tenancy may not be terminated without proof by the landlord by the greater preponderance of the credible evidence of the allegations against the offending tenant.

(4) Changing locks. (a) Subject to pars. (b) and (c), regardless of whether sub. (1) applies, at the request of a residential tenant who provides the landlord with a certified copy of a document specified in sub. (1)(b)1. to 7., a landlord shall change the locks to the tenant’s premises.

(b) A landlord shall have the locks changed, or may give the tenant permission to change the locks, within 48 hours after receiving a request and certified copy under par. (a). The tenant shall be responsible for the cost of changing the locks. If the landlord gives the tenant permission to change the locks, within a reasonable time after any lock has been changed the tenant shall provide the landlord with a key for the changed lock.

(c)1. If the person who is the subject of the document provided to the landlord under par. (a) is also a tenant of the specific premises for which the locks are requested to be changed, the landlord is not required to change the locks under this subsection unless the document provided by the tenant requesting that the locks be changed is any of the following:

a. A document specified in sub. (1)(b)1., 2., or 3. that directs the tenant who is the subject of the document to avoid the residence of the tenant requesting that the locks be changed.

b. A document specified in sub. (1)(b)4. that orders the tenant who is the subject of the document not to contact the tenant requesting that the locks be changed.

2. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to relieve a tenant who is the subject of the document provided to the landlord under par. (a) from any obligation under a rental agreement or any other liability to the landlord.

(d) A landlord is not liable for civil damages for any action taken to comply with this subsection.