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Monthly Archives: June 2016
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Ohio Landlord Tenant Laws

Rental laws in Ohio are covered in Ohio’s Revised Code in Chapter 5321 (titled “Landlords and Tenants”) and Chapter 5323 (titled Residental Rental Property). Some additional relevant information is in Chapter 1923, “Forcible Entry and Detainer,” and Chapter 1319, “Miscellaneous Credit Transactions.” This article aims to give you an overview of the major landlord-tenant laws in Ohio, but for the most up-to-date information, you should consult the code of Ohio itself or legal counsel. In this article, we’ll cover security deposit rules; lease, rent, and fee rules; notice and entry rules; and required disclosures and notes. We’ll close with some information on smalls claims courts, courts in Ohio, and realtor associations.

Security Deposit Rules

Section 16 of Chapter 5321 (5321.16) covers security deposits in Ohio. Interestingly, a tenant begins to earn interest on their security deposit if their tenancy is longer than six months. The rate is five percent per year and is paid on any “security deposit in excess of fifty dollars or one month’s periodic rent, whichever is greater.”

The deadline for landlords to return the deposit is 30 days after the tenant moves out. The landlord can withhold return of the security deposit if they use it to cover past due rent or “damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with section 5321.05 of the Revised Code or the rental agreement.” If they do withhold all or part of the deposit, the landlord must provide an itemized notice to the tenant “within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession.”

Meanwhile, the tenant is responsible for providing the landlord with a forwarding or new address for delivery of the itemized list. If the landlord withholds the deposit but doesn’t provide the itemized list, the tenant can sue; however, they can only recover damages and attorney fees if they have provided the landlord with a forwarding or new address.

Lease, Rent, and Fee Rules

In Ohio, the lease determines the amount of rent due and any late fees. There are no statutes covering whether a tenant can repair the property and deduct rent, any abandonment or early termination fees, or if a landlord must attempt to mitigate damages. If the landlord doesn’t provide essential services, the tenant can withhold rent. Essential services are covered in sections 5321.04 and include heating and hot water.

Should the tenant decide to withhold rent for a lack of essential services, they must notify the landlord. If the landlord doesn’t remedy the situation within a “reasonable time” or 30 days, whichever is sooner, then the tenant can deposit the rent instead with the “clerk of the municipal or county court having jurisdiction in the territory in which the residential premises are located,” according to section 5231.07. They can also apply to the court to remedy the situation, and while they wait, they may be able to pay reduced rent. The court can also make the landlord use any rent toward remedying the problem. As a final option, the tenant can end the rental agreement.

Two housing situations are not covered by the previous paragraph: housing occupied by students and housing where the landlord “is a party to rental agreements that cover three or fewer dwelling units” and provides the tenant notice of that fact.

There are no statues covering rent grace periods, rent increase notices, or prepaid rent.

Section 1319.16 covers check fees. The fee on a returned check cannot exceed the greater of $30 or 10 percent of the check’s value.

Notice and Entry Rules

If an end date is noted in the lease, then no notice is required: The lease just ends. But section 5321.17 contains provisions for short-term leases. The landlord or tenant can end a week-to-week lease with seven days’ notice, and end a month-to-month lease with thirty days’ notice.

Section 1923.04 covers the notice requirements if a landlord wants to terminate a tenancy for a lease violation or nonpayment. The landlord must give a three-day written notice. The notice must conspicuously contain the following wording:””You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance.” Meanwhile, section 1923.02 demands that a landlord begin eviction proceedings if the landlord “has actual knowledge of or has reasonable cause” to suspect a violation of a controlled-substance ordnance, whether by the tenant or someone the tenant has allowed on the premises.

Tenants must also follow general tenant obligations, as listed in 5321.05. If they fail to, the landlord must deliver a written notice, as described in 5321.11. The tenant gets a minimum of thirty days to fix the problem, as listed in the notice. If the tenant “fails to remedy the condition specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice.”

Sections 5321.04 and 5321.05 cover entry rules for landlords and tenants, respectively. For non-emergency maintenance and repairs, landlords must provide 24 hours’ notice and enter at a reasonable time. No notice is required in emergencies. The tenant can’t block the landlord from entering the unit to show it to perspective tenants, within reason.

Section 5321.15 stipulates that lockouts and utility shutoffs are not permitted by the landlord.

Disclosures and Notes

Stipulations on what rental agreements must contain are present in 5321.18. The key point is that “every written rental agreement for residential premises shall contain the name and address of the owner and the name and address of the owner’s agent, if any.” In the case of oral agreements, that information must be put in writing and given to the tenant at the time of move-in.

The property owner has further filing obligations, as present in sections 5323.02, 5323.04, and 5323.99. With the county auditor, the owner has to file their phone number, name, and address. If the owner has an agent, they must also file the same information for the agent. Along with that, the owner has to file the property’s address and parcel number. All of this becomes public information. If the owner fails to provide or update that information, the auditor can apply a fine between $50 and $150.

If the landlord knows of any hazards caused by lead paint, they must disclose this information to the tenant. Per the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s lead disclosure rule, landlords must also provide tenants with an EPA-approved pamphlet “on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards” and “provide any records and reports on lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards which are available to the seller or landlord.” This affects most housing that was constructed before 1978.

Court, Legal, and Realtor Information

The limit in Ohio small-claims court is $3,000, as per section 1925.02. Eviction cases do not occur in small-claims court, instead taking place in a county or municipal court, as stipulated in 1923.01. The statute of limitations on written contracts is eight years (2305.6).

Relevant court and legal entities are the Supreme Court of Ohio and Ohio Judicial System, the Ohio Attorney General, and the Ohio State Bar Association, the last of which can be a source of legal aid. Other legal-aid sources include the legal aid societies of Columbus, Cleveland, and Greater Cincinnati; Ohio Legal Services, which assists low-income Ohio residents; Legal Aid of Western Ohio; Southeastern Ohio Legal Services;  and Community Legal Aid, which focuses on northeastern Ohio.

Ohio’s main professional realtor group is the Ohio Association of Realtors.

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Mississippi Landlord Tenant Laws

This article will contain an overview of the relevant laws and regulations pertinent to the landlord/tenant relationship in the state of Mississippi. The information is taken from both official state sources and official municipal sources, and it represents the most current available data at the time of this preparation.

It should be borne in mind however, that state and municipal regulations change frequently, so the possibility always exists for any given statute to be superseded. For any specific questions you may have about information within, links are provided at the end of the article for you to contact the appropriate legal authority.

Security Deposit Rules

(as set forth in Chapter 8 of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)

There are currently no Mississippi existing statutes regarding the following: maximum security deposits, pet deposits, non-refundable fees, receipts of deposit, deposit record-keeping, separate security deposit bank accounts, and security deposit interest.

  • Returning a security deposit – the security deposit must be returned to a tenant within 45 days after the tenant has vacated the premises
  • Allowable security deposit usage – it can be applied against unpaid rent, any damages beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning of the premises, and any other necessary expenses which were the direct result of tenant usage
  • Written itemization of charges – all charges which reduce the amount of the security deposit must be itemized and provided in writing to the former tenant
  • Compliance failure – if the landlord fails to comply with the requirement to return the security deposit, landlord may be subject to damages up to $200, in addition to the original amount of the security deposit

Lease, Rent, and Fee Rules

(as set forth in Chapter 8 of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)

There are currently no Mississippi statutes regarding the following: abandonment or early termination fee, landlord recovery of attorney or court fees, tenant withholding of rent for failure to provide essential services of habitation, pre-paid rent, grace period for rent, notice of rent increase, and any requirement upon the landlord to reduce damages to lessee, e.g. attempting to re-rent the premises.

  • Rent due date – this is left to the agreement between landlord and tenant, as stated in the lease
  • Late fees – left to the agreement between landlord and tenant, as stated in the lease
  • Tenant rights to repair premises and deduct rent – this is allowable under the following conditions: the landlord must be provided written notice of necessary repairs, and must be given 30 days to effect those repairs. If, after the appropriate notification, landlord fails to initiate repairs, the tenant is allowed to withhold rent and apply toward necessary repairs in the amount of what is considered to be prevailing value for any work done, and any materials purchased

Notice and Entry Rules

(as set forth in Chapter 7  and Chapter 8 of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)

There are currently no Mississippi statutes for the following: date for move-out inspection, allowable entry for maintenance and repairs, emergency entry without notice, and pesticide usage notice.

  • Notice of tenancy termination (with fixed end date) – none required, since it is stated in the lease
  • Notice of tenancy termination (yearly lease) – two months’ written notice required
  • Notice of tenancy termination (month-to-month) – 30 days’ written notice required
  • Notice of tenancy termination (week to week) – one weeks’ written notice required
  • Notice of tenancy termination for non-payment – three days’ written notice required
  • Notice of tenancy termination for lease violation – if the lease is violated by either landlord or tenant, 30 days’ written notice must be supplied, and must specify the nature of the violation, as well as the date of the violation. If the violation is remedied by the offending party within 30 days, the lease will be considered to be still in effect. If a similar violation occurs within six months of the first one, a 14-day written notice is sufficient to terminate the lease
  • Immediate termination – in cases considered to be serious violations of the lease which materialistically affect health and/or safety, no notification of termination is necessary
  • Notice of entry – must be stated within the terms of the lease
  • Lockouts and utility shutoffs – self-help evictions are allowable. After expiration of the lease, landlord may re-possess rental unit and either evict the tenant, increase the rent, or decrease tenant services, provided none of these actions are in direct retaliation for tenant exercise of his/her rights under state law

Required Disclosures and Notes

(as set forth in Chapter 8 of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)

  • Landlord compliance duty – landlord must comply with all existing codes regarding health and safety, as they apply to residential and rental units
  • Landlord maintenance duty – landlord is required to maintain all systems necessary for habitation, including heating, cooling, plumbing, and must ensure they remain in good condition other than reasonable usage. This requirement does not include intentional damages done by tenant or damage resulting from tenant neglect
  • Tenant cleanliness – must keep the premises as safe and as clean as the original condition of the premises allows for
  • Tenant trash disposal – all garbage must be regularly disposed of in a safe and sanitary manner
  • Plumbing – tenant must keep all components of plumbing system in a clean and operable condition
  • Appliance usage – all appliances must be used in a reasonable and sanitary manner, including all habitation systems
  • Damage avoidance – no part of the premises may be defaced or damaged willfully, and no part of the premises can be improved without explicit landlord approval
  • Noise constraints – tenant’s enjoyment of the premises must not infringe upon other tenants’ enjoyment of the premises
  • Damage notice – if tenant becomes aware of any condition potentially causing damage to the premises, landlord must be informed
  • Maintenance – other than reasonable wear and tear during tenancy, all aspects of the premises must be maintained in as close to original condition as possible
  • Illegal activity – no illegal activity may be engaged in during tenant occupation of the premises
  • Retaliation actions – landlord is not permitted to attempt to evict tenant because of tenant exercise of rights
  • Lead disclosure – landlords are obliged to inform tenants of any hazards attributable to lead paint, and must provide tenants with information on those hazards, as part of the lease agreement

Small Claims Court Limit

Eviction cases are allowed in small claims courts in the state of Mississippi, although some cases are also heard in Justice Court. The monetary limit on small claims actions is $3500, and the statute of limitations on lease contracts is four years, while the statute of limitations on oral contracts is three years.

Mississippi Courts

The Mississippi Attorney General can provide overall information about the court system, and can direct inquiries to the appropriate legal level, as can the State of Mississippi Judiciary. For specific information on small claims, the Mississippi Small Claims Court can be consulted, and for higher level inquiries, Mississippi Justice Court will be able to satisfy information needs. State attorneys are listed in the Mississippi Lawyer Directory and services they provide can be researched in Mississippi Legal Services.

Mississippi Realtor Associations

There are several real estate groups which operate either state-wide or in certain sections of the state, including the Mississippi Real Estate Commission, the Mississippi Realtors, the Central Mississippi Realtors, the Hattiesburg Association of Realtors, and the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors. Landlord associations also exist in the state, such as the Greater Gulf Coast Apartment Association and the Jackson Real Estate Investment Group.

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West Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws

Landlord Tenant Laws of West Virginia

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, there are several statutes in West Virginia that govern tenancy and leasing. Each state has their own statutes, but many adopt similar or identical rules. Some issues have no statutes on one state while another will have passed regulations. Knowing the rights and responsibilities of both parties can make your renting experience smoother and more enjoyable. Although we discuss a number of statutes, linking to the official source. If you are having issues, we encourage you to become informed and then seek legal advise. While the list of regulations we include is extensive, it is not all inclusive, so as always, you should do your own research.

That said, in West Virginia, there are several laws that regulate landlord tenant issues, rights and responsibilities. We have used the following sources in researching these rules:Tenant and Landlord regulations can be found in West Virginia Statute § 37-6-1 to 37-6-30, “Remedies for the Unlawful Occupation of Residential Rental Property” AKA Eviction rules are listed in West Virginia Statute § 55-3A-1 to 55-3A-3, Miscellaneous rules West Virginia Statute § 55-2-1 to 55-2-22.

Additionally, there are a number of rules and regulations made available in the following Pdf versions:

Do I Need a Lease?

Although you can rent without a lease, it is unwise to do so. A lease is a written contract that protects both the tenant and landlord. Leases will contain security deposit amounts, pet deposits, fees, rent amount and due date. Also included may be a move in walk through checklist that will be invaluable when moving out if there are issues, such as a stain on the carpet or other imperfection. A lease may include a predetermined date of termination. Having everything that is required of the both parties in the written form of a lease can save you a lot of problems during your tenancy and after moving out. You can always contact your local West Virginia Association of Realtors with any questions you may have regarding leasing.

West Virginia regulates certain aspects that are contained in the lease, such as late fees, which are allowable as agreed to in the lease § 37-6A-2(b)(1). Returned check fees are allowable up to $25 § 61-3-39e. Interestingly enough, there are no statutes regulating rent, the date it is due, notice of increase, grace periods, prepaid rent. Additionally there are no statutes that govern withholding rent by the tenant for repairs or allowing tenant to withhold rent if the landlord fails to supply basic essentials such as water, heat and trash removal.

There are no statutes governing court costs and attorney’s fees for landlords that may incur such expenses or for early termination of lease and abandonment of the property fees. Regarding mitigation of damages to lessee and re-rental of abandoned property, the landlord has the right to hold the lessee responsible for rent for the remainder of the lease, or may re-rent the property. If re-renting, the landlord must inform the tenant of this intention. However, the tenant will still be responsible for the remaining term of the lease, and for the difference between and rent received from re-renting. If the landlord holds the tenant responsible for the rest of the lease, the tenant may recover their possessions once any unpaid rent is paid and any other obligation is met as outlined in the lease § 37-6-7, § 37-6-8.

Security Deposits

The state of West Virginia makes no statutes regarding security deposit maximum, security deposit interest, pet deposits, receipt of deposit or regarding holding deposits in a separate bank account. Non-refundable deposits are allowed under statute § 37-6A-1(14) as long as it is agreed upon by both parties in writing. West Virginia also regulates return of the security deposit, requiring the deposit be returned within 60 days of vacating the rental property or 45 days after the property is leased to a new tenant, which ever is shorter with statute § 37-6A-1(7). In the event that damages are present that will cost more than the deposit and will require, the landlord should provide the tenant with a written notice within the time allowed to return the deposit. Once notice has been given, the landlord then has an additional fifteen more days to provide written description and charges incurred according to statute § 37-6A-2(c).

West Virginia restricts the use of security deposits with statute § 37-6A-2(b), allowing them to be used for unpaid rent, including reasonable late fees as agreed in the lease. Damages caused by noncompliance with the Tenant’s duties, but not normal wear and tear can be taken from the deposit. Unpaid utility bills that the landlord may be held responsible for, again as outlined in the lease can be covered by the deposit. West Virginia also allows landlords to withhold the cost to move and store tenants possessions. There are two statutes requiring written description and itemization of damages and costs; § 37-6A-2(a), § 37-6A-2(c).

West Virginia statute § 37-6A-3 requires landlords to keep records of security deposits and monies kept from said deposits for one year after tenancy ends. Landlords must allow the tenant or an authorized person acting for the tenant to examine the records within 72 hours of receiving a written request to review the records.

Consequences

Should the landlord fail to comply with statutes governing the security deposit, failing to act in good faith or purposely withholding the deposit without showing cause, the tenant is entitled to bring suit asking for one and a half times the amount of the deposit that was held plus the deposit itself. Any rent that is owed will be withheld from the amount awarded to the tenant § 37-6A-5. Recovery is limited to $5,000.00 in the Northern and Southern West Virginia small claims courts.

Right to Entry and Notices

Notices given to end tenancy are regulated under statute § 37-6-5. As with most fixed end date tenancies, no notice is required. On month to month tenancy, a 30 day notice is required and on weekly or shorter tenancies, a 7 day notice is required. On a yearly lease, a three month’s notice is required, or as otherwise specified in the lease. All notices must be written.

In the event that a tenant violates the lease, the landlord may file for immediate eviction without written notice. However, written notice shall be made once the matter has been set for hearing in front of a magistrate. For week to week leases and failure to pay rent, the same process for eviction applies. All other evictions also follow the same process. § 55-3A-1

There are no statutes regarding notices for move in/out inspections in relation to date and time. There are also no notices regarding entry to the rental property regardless whether it is for maintenance, pest control, showings, emergency, non-emergency or during an extended absence. Although there is no statute, reasonable notice of 24 hours is expected.

Finally, there are a number of statutes prohibiting lockouts and utility shut offs that protect tenants from such tactics § 55-3A.

Odds and Ends

There other miscellaneous regulations and rules that both landlord and tenant should be familiar with. For example, there are rules governing the responsibilities of the landlord Landlord’s Duties as listed in Statute § 37-6-30. Although there is no law governing the tenants rights and responsibilities, they are outlined in the guide for Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.

The landlord must disclose lead paint in the home and give the tenant a pamphlet regarding lead and the risks of exposure.

Wisconsin Landlord Tenant Laws

Landlord Tenant Laws of Wisconsin: A Brief Overview

Wisconsin has several statutes that govern landlord and tenant relationships. There are many requirements that landlords are responsible for, as well as some governing the responsibilities of the tenant as well. Renting can become a complicated legal matter with just one wrong turn, so it behooves both tenant and landlord to become familiar with the numerous statutes that govern issues and some details involved in tenancy. One of the statutes that is helpful is titled “Landlord and Tenant Statutes” and can be read in Wisconsin’s 704 up to statute 704.50

These laws are complex and reviewing them with an expert is always wise. The experts at the Wisconsin Realtors Association are not only helpful with finding your perfect new rental, but they are also well versed in real estate law, including landlord tenant issues. Beginning your tenancy armed with information can help it be a successful relationship that is mutually beneficial and prevent costly appearances in small claims court.

Security deposits, repairs statutes can be found in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection chapter 134; Residential Rental Practices. Leasing can benefit both tenant and landlord, and understanding what responsibilities both landlord and tenant have toward one another regarding tenancy. To help keep the peace and ensure each party understands their responsibilities, Wisconsin legislators have developed statutes over the years that make clear what is expected of both parties and any consequences that may occur if statutes are violated.

Sign That Lease

The idea of signing a lease may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding what is in a standard lease, you will arm yourself with knowledge. A lease agreement is a legally binding contract. It is an agreement between both landlord and tenant and acts as an official record and legal guide to tenancy.

Your lease will list the amount of security required, the date it was received and the amount paid, your monthly rental obligation, the day rent is due, the length of tenancy or lease period, and many other particulars including who is allowed to live in the property to how many pets you have, their sex and breed and a description. Having a lease guarantees certain conditions will be met that are mutually beneficial to both parties. A lease also protects both parties.

In Wisconsin, there is no statute regarding what day rent is due, but there other statutes regarding rent. A landlord is required to issue a rent receipt if the tenant has paid in cash according to Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.03(2b). If the landlord wishes to increase the amount of rent paid, a 28 day written notice of intent is required §§ 704.19(3). If the tenant is late paying rent, the landlord may only charge late fees if they are included in the lease.

Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.03(1) provides that the landlord shall present to the tenant the lease agreement and other rules for the tenant to examine prior to accepting any earnest monies, deposits and before signing the agreement. The landlord will furnish the tenant a signed copy upon execution of the lease.

When a lease agreement renews automatically, the landlord is obligated to give the tenant a 15 day notice of intent to renew, or a 30 day notice of intent to terminate as regulated under statute §§ 704.15.

Details, Details

If the tenant pays more than the rental amount due, the landlord may keep the overage and apply it to the security deposit as there is no statute governing prepaid rent according to Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.02(11). However, for a tenant that may need to prepay rent, it may be stipulated in the lease as agreed upon by both parties, which would prevent the funds from being diverted to security deposit held.

In the event that the landlord fails to provide the tenant with basic services such water, heat and trash removal, or the residence has suffered damage as a result of fire or other catastrophic event and has become in habitable, the tenant may withhold rent under Wisconsin Statute §§ 704.07(4). However, if the tenant remains in the home, the amount of rent withheld will in an amount that reflects the amount of damages, but never the full amount. If the tenant must vacate the premises, the tenant may withhold the entire amount. There is no statute that allows the tenant to make repairs and deduct those costs from the rent.

The state of Wisconsin prohibits the landlord from creating inhabitable conditions in the effort to force a tenant out. Landlords may not terminate basic, essential services such as heat and water or change the locks, preventing the tenant from entering or any other behavior whose intent and purpose is to force the tenant to vacate as listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.09(7).

In the event a tenant abandons the property or asks for early termination, the landlord is obligated to make a good faith effort to reduce the damages the tenant will incur by re-renting the property as soon as possible. This regulation can be found in Wisconsin statute §§ 704.29(2)(b).

Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.03(2a) requires that the landlord provide the tenant a written receipt if the security deposit is paid in cash, or if the tenant asks for a receipt.

If a landlord incurs court costs and attorney’s fees related to the tenancy, a suit may be filed against the tenant in an effort to recoup them. In Wisconsin, the small claims court limit is $10,000.

Security Deposit and Fees

One of the most unusual aspects of Wisconsin’s security deposit rules is that they have no limit. Agreeing on the deposit becomes one of the most important points of your lease when the sky’s the limit. This interesting bit of legislation can be found under Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.06. Wisconsin has no statutes regarding security deposit interest, requiring separate bank accounts for security deposits, or record keeping of the deposits.

Landlords may charge tenants a non-refundable background and credit check fee of $20 as outlined in Wisconsin Administrative Code  §§ 134.05(4).

The landlord must return the security deposit within 21 days after the lease ends or the date a new tenant takes possession if the tenant vacated before the lease period had ended according to Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.06(2).

Finally, Wisconsin Administrative Code §§ 134.06(4) requires landlords supply tenants with a written itemized list and description of damages withheld from the security deposit.

Can My Landlord Enter My Home?

Simply put yes, your landlord has a right to enter the property to make inspections, perform maintenance and make repairs, to show the unit. Your landlord may enter the dwelling without notice during an emergency and during a period of extended absence by the tenant according to Wisconsin statute §§ 704.05(2). Your landlord must give you at least a 12 hour notice unless otherwise agreed upon.

A landlord may not use lockouts and utility shut offs to effect and eviction as state in the Wisconsin Way: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants.

A Bit of Notice

Tenants in Wisconsin are required to give a 28 day notice to terminate a month to month lease §§ 704.19(3). In a week to week leasing agreement, a five day notice to vacate is required §§ 704.17(1). The same statute allows for the landlord to serve the tenant with a 14 day notice for nonpayment of rent when the rental period is month to month. When the lease period is yearly, and the tenant has failed to pay rent or has violated the lease, the landlord may serve a 14 day notice to tenant asking them to vacate the property §§ 704.17(2)(b). When the lease period is longer than one year, a 30 day notice is required §§ 704.17(3).