UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
In Wisconsin, the formal complaint most often received by the state is from tenants in regards to deposits paid on a rental unit. To ensure return of your deposit, become informed about rights and responsibilities for you as a tenant and your landlord. For more information, see The Wisconsin Way, an informative guide which includes statutes pertaining to deposits.
The landlord may withhold part of your security deposit for damages beyond what is considered normal wear and tear.
Complete a move out checklist, using the same process and checklist you used when moving in. This will help you document any damages you may be assessed or lack of damage from your tenancy. Your landlord may sue you for damages that exceed your security deposit.
Any deposit that you are entitled to must be returned within 21 days of your "surrendering" the premises. If you've vacated prior to the date specified in the rental agreement, provide your landlord with written notice that you're no longer residing at the premises. This is required to guarantee the 21 day time frame for return of your deposit.
The landlord is only required to send returned deposits to the last known address on file for the tenant. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide your new mailing address to your landlord. Otherwise, your money may be sent to the address you've just vacated. Change your address easily through the USPS website to ensure your deposit is returned.
Unpaid utilities provided by the landlord to you which isn't included in rent, may be withheld from your security deposit.
Unpaid rent or any portion of rent due may be deducted from your deposit.
Any portion of your deposit not returned must be itemized in a statement providing an explanation of why your money was withheld.
You can accept a partial return of deposit and still have a legal right to contest money being withheld from your deposit.
A printable letter demanding return of money withheld from your deposit can be found in the quick reference page and here.
For resources to help should any disagreements between you and the landlord arise, see the disputes with your landlord page for more information.