Choosing who to lease a property to is a big decision. After all, this person will be living in your rental property and will be responsible for paying you monthly rent and a security deposit.

This is why it is important to run a credit check before making your choice and drawing up a leasing agreement. If you are new to property management, you may have a tough time drawing up a Wisconsin rental application form.

That's because there are certain federal and state laws in place to protect both parties, and before you hand the document over for a potential tenant to complete, you must ensure that you are complying with these regulations.

We have drawn up a comprehensive guide to help you create the perfect Wisconsin rental application form. Here, you'll find information about which details to include, what not to include, what types of background checks you can run, and more.

What Is a Rental Application Form?

The Wisconsin rental application ( also known as a tenant application, lease application, or rental lease application) is a document used to determine whether potential renters are qualified for a residential tenancy.

This application can be distributed to anyone requesting a given rental unit by the landlord. The form requires the applicants to fill in their contact, occupational, and financial details.

Additionally, the tenant can be requested to provide their prior year's tax return as proof of income for further in-depth checks. Moreover, the landlord reserves the right to pass along any background check expenses to the tenant.

The Application Process

Here's the general process that you'll need to follow before leasing a property to a residential tenant:

  1. List the property for rent.
  2. When a potential tenant shows interest, draw up a rental application form to obtain important information and written consent for background checks.
  3. Request an application

What to Include

The rental application form is designed to obtain information from a potential tenant and to provide certain disclosures from the landlord. You'll need to request the following details in your Wisconsin rental application form:

  • Personal information
  • Permission for a background check
  • Details about income
  • Rental history
  • References

As a landlord, you are also required to make the following disclosures:

  • The security deposit
  • Arrangements for shared utilities
  • Rent control rules
  • Smoking policy
  • Fees
  • The presence of an environmental or health risk

What Not to Include

To comply with the Federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot request the following information in your rental application:

  • Criminal history
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Familial status
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Color

Important Laws

Different laws apply to the use of tenant application forms in Wisconsin. If your paperwork does not adhere to Wisconsin legislation, you risk facing legal repercussions and being sued by the applicant. In the section below, we'll discuss these laws to help you stay compliant.

Application Fee Laws

Landlords in Wisconsin are only permitted to charge a maximum fee of $20 to fund any background checks, in accordance with ATCP 134.05 (4). This needs to be requested before the checks are performed.

Written Consent for Background Checks

The Federal Credit Reporting Act states that the applicant must give written consent before a landlord may run a credit check on them based on the information in their submitted rental application.

A statement to that effect and a signature can be included in the Wisconsin rental application form, or an additional document may be used to obtain consent.

Notice of Eligibility

Applicants must be made aware of the requirements for screening and the justifications for the acceptance or rejection of their application. A signature of acknowledgment must always be included in the form or next to it to demonstrate that these facts were disclosed.

Laws Governing the Security Deposit

In Wisconsin, there are no restrictions on the amount you can ask for as a security deposit. It is advised to cap the sum at no more than one to two months' worth of rent.

After moving in, the tenant will have seven days to check the rental property for any damages and notify the landlord of it. Moreover, according to ATCP 134.06 (2), this sum must be refunded 21 days (less any deductions) following the tenant's departure from the premises.

Background Checks

In the section below, we'll discuss the types of background checks you can run on potential tenants and provide some advice on how to conduct them.

The truth is that running these checks can be challenging, and finding the right resources is cumbersome. Fortunately, DoorLoop puts everything in one place with our efficient tenant screening feature. Contact us today to learn more!

Credit History

A thorough credit report or a simple "pass or fail" credit score will likely be the outcome of a credit history check.

Depending on the applicant's explicit authorization, you can obtain a comprehensive report that will generally include the prospective tenant's credit score along with information about their income, employment, prior addresses, credit inquiries, and more. You can utilize a variety of online resources to carry out this inquiry.

Criminal History

A criminal background check is another important check that you can do before approving or rejecting an applicant. Your search will provide information on the tenant in sources such as the national sex offender registry or local court criminal records.

Eviction Record Search

You might also want to check whether the tenant has been evicted from a rental property before using various online resources. Another way to conduct this check is to contact the applicant's previous landlords and the personal references provided.

Adverse Action Notices

You must give the potential tenant a statement known as an adverse action notice if you choose to reject their application, ask for a co-signer if one wasn't originally provided, or ask for a higher monthly rental amount or security deposit.

You must include specifics regarding the action along with documentation of the credit history check, according to state law.

Build Your Own

Property managers and landlords often have a number of documents to draw up when it comes to the application process. Moreover, keeping track of the applicable laws can make the process even more challenging.

Fortunately, you can create flawless rental applications in a matter of minutes with DoorLoop's property management software. With a convenient autofill feature and an intuitive editor, drawing up your lease documents will be a breeze.

Our software also offers a plethora of other features, including accounting, tenant screening, property listings, and more!

Alternatively, you can download and edit our free form, which is available in Word and PDF versions.

Final Thoughts

You can create your own Wisconsin rental application form now that you have all the information you need. When creating this document, it is important to be wary of what you can and cannot include and ensure that you comply with rental laws to prevent the applicant from taking legal action against you

The good news is that you can use DoorLoop to draw up your next tenant application. Contact us today to learn more about our software or to schedule a free demo!


What are the different types of rental applications?

In Wisconsin, there are primarily two types of lease application forms. Depending on the kind of property being leased, regional regulations, and the kind of rental agreement that will be utilized, you must pick the most appropriate one.

  • Standard application. This document is used most frequently. The application can be modified to suit the specific requirements of the landlord.
  • Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) tenant application. Those providing section eight housing or low-income renters should use a HUD lease application form. It is intended simply to receive information that is permitted by regulations governing subsidized housing.

Is there a cap on the amount that a landlord or property manager can charge for an application in Wisconsin?

Yes, unlike many other states, Wisconsin imposes a restriction on the amount a prospective tenant can be charged for their application. This is capped at $20.

What information should I focus on when conducting a background check?

In addition to the credit, eviction record, and criminal checks, you should also focus on whether the tenant is a smoker or non-smoker (if the property is a non-smoking zone) and if the person has any pets. Moreover, when conducting the credit history check, it is important to determine their debt-to-income ratio to determine whether they can afford the monthly rent.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!