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Article: Lease Provisions that Will Void a Rental Agreement

Tenants Rights

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  1. Tenants Rights

Lease Provisions that Will Void a Rental Agreement

By the GWAAR Legal Services Team

In dealing with issues between landlords and tenants, it is always important to obtain a copy of the rental agreement, also called a lease. The rental agreement generally controls what can be done by the tenant or the landlord. The rental agreement explains the tenant’s rights.

Federal and state laws also restrict the rights of a landlord and a tenant. For instance, a lease could not restrict anyone who is disabled from renting an apartment.

Wisconsin law provides 10 general provisions that a landlord cannot put in a rental agreement. If a rental agreement has any one of these provisions, the landlord cannot enforce the entire rental agreement. The tenant may vacate the apartment and not pay any more rent. This is true even if the landlord never uses or enforces these provisions.

The following 10 clauses will void the lease if the rental agreement:

(a) Allows the landlord to evict a tenant by means other than after the landlord obtains a court order to evict the tenant;

(b) Accelerates the rent payments, if the tenant does not pay rent or otherwise does not follow the terms of the rental agreement;

(c) Waives the landlord's duty to try and rent the apartment to another tenant, if a tenant breaks the lease;

(d) If a dispute arises, allows the landlord under the rental agreement to have:

   (1) A court enter a judgment against the tenant without the tenant being able to object to

that judgment or participate in the court hearing;

    (2) The tenant pay the attorney’s fees or other costs of the landlord;(e) Relieves the landlord from paying for property damage or personal injuries caused by the landlord's negligent acts or failure to act;

(f) Imposes liability on a tenant for injuries or damages which are:

(1) Clearly beyond the tenant's control;

(2) Caused by a natural disaster; or,

(3) Caused by a person other than the tenant or the tenant's guests;

(g) Waives the requirement that the apartment must be fit or habitable when the tenant first moves in or removes the requirement that the landlord maintain the unit while the tenant lives there;

(h) Allows the landlord to take certain actions, such as increasing the rent, because the tenant  contacts the police or health or safety service personnel;

(i) Allows the landlord to evict the tenant for a crime committed on the rental property and the rental agreement does not include the notice of domestic abuse protections that a landlord must include in a rental agreement; or,

(j) Allows the landlord to evict the tenant solely based on a crime when the tenant or someone who lawfully lives with the tenant is a victim of that crime.

Under Wisconsin state law, the above provisions cannot be in a rental agreement.

Each case presents unique facts which should be interpreted by an attorney who can provide specific legal advice. Tenants who find one of these provisions in a lease should consult with an attorney prior to taking any action.

The above information is provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of this information is at your own risk, and you should not use this information without first seeking legal and other professional advice. The information does not constitute legal advice or opinions of any kind. No lawyer-client, advisory, fiduciary or other relationship is created between the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Inc. (GWAAR) and any person accessing or otherwise using any of this information.

GWAAR (and any of their respective directors, officers, agents, contractors, interns, suppliers and employees) will not be liable for any damages, losses or causes of action of any nature arising from any use of any of this information.


                                                            Copyright GWAAR, 2017

Last Updated on 4/28/2020