Wisconsin tenant screening is like no other because this fine state often enacts laws that are slightly different than what is done in other states.
Our article covers important landlord/tenant topics in an easy-to-understand way so there’s a clear path to find the best tenants to live in your rental property.
Here are just a few of the topics:
- Wisconsin tenant screening laws
- Absolutely free resources
- Overview of the screening process
- Finding a tenant screening service
Wisconsin Tenant Screening Laws
Wisconsin laws are in place to protect both landlords and tenants, particularly when it comes to screening.
Here are a few important points you should know as a Wisconsin landlord.
- Landlords in the state can only charge an application fee of $20.
- Wisconsin landlords must give a copy of the background report to the tenant
- There is no restriction on the amount landlords can charge for a security deposit
Remember that application fees are non-refundable and are definitely separate from the security deposit.
All these details and more can be found in this helpful Wisconsin landlord/tenant guide here.
Have You Made This Screening Mistake?
Wisconsin landlords like you can definitely run a background check on applicants but only if they have given you signed consent.
In other words, unless you have a space for a signature on your rental application forms, you won’t have permission to do the background check. If your application doesn’t have it now, you’d better add it.
Take a look at the language from one of our forms at RentPrep.
The top arrow shows applicants that the fee is non-refundable.
The lower arrow asks the applicant for a signature to give consent to run a background check.
Resources for Tenant Screening in Wisconsin
These free forms and resources will help you find the best possible tenant for your rental.
- Rental Application PDF – Have every prospective tenant fill out this rental application.*
- Move-In Move-Out checklist – This is helpful for after the tenant screening process to make sure you document the condition of the rental
- Rental Lease Agreement – Once you’ve decided on a tenant you’ll want to draw up a lease. This editable doc is a good starting place.
- Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA – Our screeners here at RentPrep are FCRA certified to ensure compliance on your screening report
- Wisconsin Legislature’s Landlord/Tenant Statues and Code – These exact laws manage screening criteria in Wisconsin
*Have you tried the “No Blank Space” screening tactic with your rental applications? It’s simple–you just don’t accept any applications that have a blank space for an answer. This helps eliminate anyone with something to hide who thinks that if they don’t answer a question, the landlord won’t follow up. It eliminates a lot of hassle this way.
Wisconsin Tenant Screening Process
If you haven’t already, you need to write up a list of screening criteria, preferably one for every rental property.
Generally, screening criteria focuses on issues like this:
- Income to rent ratio
- Criminal history
- Eviction history
- Credit score
You can include as many realistic features as you want, but always make sure this screening criteria list, your marketing efforts and your screening process never discriminate against a protected classes. Of course, you can see how this is defined by checking out hud.gov.
The first step in protecting your business from a discrimination lawsuit is to create a written list of fair screening criteria.
For second step, apply that criteria consistently to every application. Never make exceptions to that list, not even on a case-by-case scenario. In other words, you you could be seen as discriminating in favor or against an applicant. When fairly applied, screening criteria can make things very easy.
Of course, the Wisconsin tenant screening process affects landlords and tenants, so it’s a good idea to review now and then.
- Remember that application fees and security deposits are two different things
- Landlords collect the application fee with the application, while a security deposit is turned in at the lease signing
- Application fees are not refundable and are limited to $20 maximum
Check out the state guide for more details on this.
Tenant Screening Guide
If you’re looking for a thorough course on tenant screening, look no further.
Check out our tenant screening guide at this link, http://rentprep.com/tenant-screening/
This will walk you through the tenant screening process.
Finding the Right Screening Service
With your best applications in hand, it’s time to find the right screening service. Getting a proper background check on each one will put you one step closer to the ideal tenant.
Make sure the screening service includes the following items:
- Previous address history
- Eviction history
- Judgments and liens
Don’t ever rent to a tenant based only on your instincts. Instead, rely on facts to make a decision.
We recommend our services here at RentPrep, where we’ve worked with over 21,000 landlords over the past 10 years.
Check out our tenant screening packages to see the services we offer.
Our FCRA certified screeners will put your mind at ease by providing the best tenant screening report available.