Consumer Law at Your Fingertips

Warranties

Real Estate Warranties

General

Wisconsin Statutes section 706.10(6) states that there are no implied warranties in sales of real estate, except as provided by law. But the agreement between the buyer and seller may include express warranties. In practice, warranties are often created by real estate form contracts and by negotiation between the parties.

For example, a warranty deed warrants that the seller has free and clear title except as noted in the deed. A warranty deed does not warrant the condition or quality of the real estate, except as indicated. While warranties are generally not implied in real estate sales contracts, a buyer is normally entitled to rely on affirmative representations made by the seller. A buyer may also expect full and fair disclosure of known conditions that materially affect the safety and value of the property. For more information, see Consumer Law topic, Motor Vehicles.

Residential Seller Disclosure

Under Wisconsin Statutes chapter 709, a person selling existing residential property must give the buyer a Real Estate Condition Report within 10 days after accepting a buyer’s purchase offer. The report discloses conditions known to seller, but does not necessarily constitute a warranty of property conditions. A buyer may rescind the contract without liability if the seller fails to provide the report, or if the report discloses defects that were not disclosed before the buyer made the purchase offer. For more information, Consumer Law topic, Real Estate.

New Improvements Made by Seller

If a seller makes certain real estate improvements for the buyer’s specified use, there is an implied warranty that the improvements are done “in a workmanlike manner” and are “reasonably adequate” for the intended purpose. (See Wisconsin Statutes section 706.10(7).) But the warranty may be disclaimed or altered by the sales contract. The sales contract may also provide clearer warranty provisions.

Residential Rental Transactions

Wisconsin Statutes section 704.07 requires residential landlords to provide premises that are reasonably tenantable, and in compliance with local housing codes. The law spells out tenant remedies, including abatement or recovery of rent, if premises are untenantable.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has also adopted rules, under Wisconsin Administrative Code chapter ATCP 134, to regulate residential rental transactions. The rules:

  • Prohibit landlords from renting condemned premises.
  • Require disclosure of housing code violations and known hazards.
  • Prohibit rental provisions that purport to waive the landlord’s maintenance obligations.
  • Requires landlords to put pre-rental repair promises in writing. A landlord must complete the work in a timely manner or explain the delay.

For more information, see Consumer Law topic, Landlord-Tenant Practices.

Time-Share Sales

Wisconsin Statutes chapter 707 regulates time-share sales and ownership. Chapter 707 applies to timeshares involving the ownership or right to use property for at least 4 separate periods over at least 4 years. The law applies to “timeshare estates” (ownership interests) as well as “time-share easements” (rights to use property). Sellers must provide disclosure statements, and many sales claims are treated as warranties. The law also creates certain implied warranties of quality. For more information, see Consumer Law topic, Entertainment, Art and Leisure.