How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin law prohibits rent control at the state and local levels, so landlords can technically charge whatever they want as long as proper notice is given.
Written by Kathryn Mae Kurlychek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
law prohibits rent control at the state and local levels, so landlords can raise the rent as long as they've provided sufficient notice.  
Since 2021, rental properties across the nation have seen raised rates—in some states, rent has increased by more than 20 percent! If you’re one of the thousands facing a higher rent in Wisconsin, you may be wondering what you can do about it. 
Here to help you find answers and save money is
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. In this article, we’ll cover rent control laws in America’s Dairyland, from what constitutes an illegal raise in rent to how you can handle a rent hike. 
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How much can a landlord raise rent in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, there’s no state law regulating the amount a landlord can raise rent. 
Wisconsin law prohibits rent control at both the state and local levels—so landlords can charge as little or as much as they choose. If your landlord decided to up your rent from $1,200 to $2,100, there’s technically nothing stopping them.
Before you panic, know that the chances of this happening—or your landlord raising your rent by some other sudden and excessive amount—are incredibly low. To maintain tenants, landlords must keep rental properties priced at a fair market value. While the fair market value is at an all-time high right now, any increase you receive hopefully won't be higher than the current average. 
There are also certain protections for tenants that help reduce the likelihood of a landlord unfairly or unexpectedly upping the rent, which we’ll cover next. 

How much notice does a landlord need to give before they raise the rent?

Wisconsin law sets forth no specific statutes on how much advanced notice a landlord must provide before increasing rent. 
However, it's customary to give a 28-day notice in writing to the tenant before raising the rent. This 28-day notice period is applicable only for month-to-month lease terms. For a lease payable on a shorter basis (such as week-to-week leases), the landlord must give advanced notice equal to the rent-paying period. So, if you pay your rent week-to-week, your landlord would have to provide you with at least seven days' notice before raising your rent. 
For fixed-term leases (e.g., one-year lease terms), rent cannot be raised or amended until the lease has expired and a new tenancy has begun. 

When is it illegal to raise rent in Wisconsin?

Although Wisconsin has no state regulations on how much a landlord can raise rent, that doesn’t mean it’s always perfectly legal. It is illegal for a landlord to increase your rent in some cases. Specifically: 
  • A landlord may not raise the rent in retaliation for a tenant exercising their tenancy rights, making a good faith complaint, or filing a claim regarding the property.
  • A landlord may not raise the rent based on a tenant's age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or family status. To do so would be a violation of the state's Federal Fair Housing Act. 

How to respond to a rent increase

If you’re one of many Wisconsin residents facing rent increases, there are a couple of ways to proceed. You can always accept the higher rent once your new lease enters effect—but if you believe your rent was illegally raised or you can’t afford to, there are a few alternatives: 
  • Seek legal advice or hire a lawyer if you believe your landlord has raised your rent illegally. If you believe you were not provided adequate notice of the increased rate, you can also file a lawsuit against your landlord
  • If you can’t afford the increased rent but aren’t in a position to move, you can attempt to negotiate a lower price with your landlord
  • If the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your ability to pay rent, seek resources and help with your local emergency assistance rental program (EARP)

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No. Rent increases in the state of Wisconsin are prohibited until December 21, 2021, after which time landlords may increase rent with the proper notice.
Between March 2021 and March 2022, rent increased in
by 9.81%. Wisconsin is not the only state to see such drastic increases in rent prices—neighboring
saw even higher increases.
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